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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 10-09-2008, 04:04 AM
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robmwallace robmwallace is offline
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coolant reservoir question

i just recently made the transition out of my 1988 535 into a 2002 540i and already had to have the coolent reservoir replaced. the 540 has 94000 miles and was a former lease vehicle with all service records from bmw. is this a common problem for the e39?
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  #2  
Old 10-09-2008, 04:38 AM
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jstover jstover is offline
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Yes, this is the norm. Many have said that their's didn't last as long as yours did.
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  #3  
Old 10-09-2008, 06:29 AM
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QSilver7 QSilver7 is offline
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You might want to take a look at the mfg date located on the radiator...if the radiator's mfg date is a YEAR or more later than the car's mfg date...then it has already been replaced at least once...but if it is before or near the car's mfg date...you're on borrowed time and the radiator neck will probably break within the next year or so. Be prepared.

Read any e39 FAQ and you will instantly see that the cooling system's failure (radiator & expansion tank) is about as predictable as a FULL MOON. The radiators mfg label is located on the right side (passenger) near the top...you can see it in the TWO images below....and remember that the mfg date is written EUROPEAN STYLE [day/month/year] instead of how we're used to it being written here in America [month/day/year].



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Q {BMW CCA Member #191509}
2006 E53 X5 4.4i (Sterling Gray) 12/05 mfg date <<~>> 97 740iL (Arctic Silver) 3/97 mfg date
(SOLD)
99 540iT (Orient Blue) <<~>> 95 525IT (Alpine White)
91 735iL (Schwarz Black) <<~>> 85 325e (Bronzit)

http://imageshack.com/scaled/grid240/822/e38e532ndsigpic.jpg
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  #4  
Old 10-09-2008, 07:20 AM
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jstover jstover is offline
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Thanks for posting the pics QSilver! That's why I love this board! Guys like you jump in and provide such good information.
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  #5  
Old 10-09-2008, 08:00 AM
oembimmerparts oembimmerparts is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jstover View Post
Thanks for posting the pics QSilver! That's why I love this board! Guys like you jump in and provide such good information.
Q is right on in his info, If they have been replaced you should be ok but if the rad and waterpump are original you are on borrowed time.
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  #6  
Old 10-09-2008, 08:16 AM
dboy11 dboy11 is offline
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Good stuff Q...really good stuff.

I agree with everyone on the cooling system in the e39's...With my car I brought the car used at 102K some plastic thing connected to the top radiator hose cracked within the first week...then I developed a coolant leak about a month later..that was the water pump...after reading this forum..I overhauled the whole system...except the radiator...it had been replaced the year before I got the car...I had the records to show and the date on the rad reflected that.

IMO for the safety of you and the car over haul the system...should you blow something in the car and can't get to the side of the road in time...the damages will be astronomical
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  #7  
Old 10-09-2008, 09:26 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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1+ Cooling Overhaul since the original poster has a 540i V8, even a more reason to do Cooling Overhaul.
Info on DIY is in the DIY section of this forum.
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  #8  
Old 10-09-2008, 09:41 AM
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jstover jstover is offline
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Just checked my radiator, no date on the label. I guess my days aren't numbered! LOL Get it? NUMBERED? Hey, its my 100th post!

In all seriousness, there is no date code on my radiator. I can only guess that it may be original unless someone corrects me from what they continue to read. The following numbers were found on the main label... 1 436 060.9 1 436 055.0 BEHR 25791 Made In Germany. And on a small green label about 6 inches below the main label on the side of the radiator the numbers "2003" with "00" under it are punched out like in a dot matrix. The shapes of the numbers are actually done with dots.
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  #9  
Old 10-09-2008, 09:44 AM
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tee-dub tee-dub is offline
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I know people talk about the 540 being hard on the cooling system, but I think most bmw's are prone to this. My E36 required a full cooling system overhaul at 67k miles as did a friend's E36. My last 540 made it to 100k and I did the whole system as a preventative. I'd rather spend a grand fixing it on my schedule rather than get stranded on the side of the road and be scrambling to find a repair shop that wont bend me over.
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  #10  
Old 10-09-2008, 11:36 AM
dboy11 dboy11 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tee-dub View Post
I know people talk about the 540 being hard on the cooling system, but I think most bmw's are prone to this. My E36 required a full cooling system overhaul at 67k miles as did a friend's E36. My last 540 made it to 100k and I did the whole system as a preventative. I'd rather spend a grand fixing it on my schedule rather than get stranded on the side of the road and be scrambling to find a repair shop that wont bend me over.
All the BMW that I have owned I've had some cooling system issue at one point or another...most of that I felt fairly normal..hoses and such!

The one thing that I have learned is to have the system flushed out every 50K or for me every two years in my case.

It keeps everything running clean and mean IMO
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  #11  
Old 10-09-2008, 12:28 PM
luvnhatemya6 luvnhatemya6 is offline
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That radiator was made in Jan 2003, so it has been replaced once, very early in the cars life. So you now have enough miles on it for it to fail again.

My expansion tank and radiator both failed at about 50K miles, within months of each other, in the same way - cracking of the plastic at a stress point. Their life can be as short as 50K.

If you are doing the expansion tank you might want to consider doing the water pump, thermostat and (plastic) housing, the upper and lower radiator hoses, and the radiator itself. Oh, and the fan clutch and fan. Given your mileage, and the fact that these components are all at or past their typical lifetimes.
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  #12  
Old 10-09-2008, 02:54 PM
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robmwallace robmwallace is offline
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thanks for all the useful information everyone. the radiator is dated 11/20/06 so that's a good thing! my 535 had problems with the thermostat housing cracking but other than that i replaced the radiator once in 10 years and that was at 130,000 miles! it took me years to half figure out that car and now i've gone and upgraded!
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  #13  
Old 10-10-2008, 12:10 PM
528RTC 528RTC is offline
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Just replaced mine @ 86,000 miles

Mine got a hairline crack on the top where the corner rounds down. Just had that and fan clutch replaced... as well as new coolant and system flush. $500. Seems to be common replacement at around 80K. Good luck
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  #14  
Old 10-26-2008, 08:24 AM
Tufast Tufast is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dboy11 View Post
Good stuff Q...really good stuff.

I agree with everyone on the cooling system in the e39's...With my car I brought the car used at 102K some plastic thing connected to the top radiator hose cracked within the first week...then I developed a coolant leak about a month later..that was the water pump...after reading this forum..I overhauled the whole system...except the radiator...it had been replaced the year before I got the car...I had the records to show and the date on the rad reflected that.

IMO for the safety of you and the car over haul the system...should you blow something in the car and can't get to the side of the road in time...the damages will be astronomical
x2 I spent 2mos & 4gals of coolant replacing one piece at a time on mine, man what a waste of labor. Just go ahead & replace all the cooling system parts & be done with it, you'll be glad you did & have piece of mind. Also, I seen a thread on the forum regarding aluminum radiator replacement, which I may due the next time mine is getting ready to go.
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