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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 06-30-2010, 07:03 AM
Keii Keii is offline
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Post aluminum vs plastic thermostat housing

Good Evening everyone,
I bought my 528i (03/1996 E39) in the land of the rising sun. It was imported from California and has barely over 52000 miles on it. Today on my drive home I noticed steam? coming off from under my hood. I turned off the car and looked around once it was cooled and saw some leaking from the thermostat housing towards the left side. I'm going to order the parts I need and follow the instructions to redo the sections of the cooling system from this excellent write-up here
http://www.bimmerboard.com/forums/posts/199986 .
My questions are:
since that write up is from 2006 is the HEPU water pump still preferred?
If I wanted to go with an aluminum housing for the thermostat are there any good manufacturers or is the plastic OEM still the best?
which manufacturer for the thermostat itself is recommended?
and finally, should I buy the BMW coolant or is there another brand that meets the BMW specs?

This is a lot I understand but your inputs will be greatly appreciated.
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  #2  
Old 06-30-2010, 07:05 AM
oembimmerparts oembimmerparts is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keii View Post
Good Evening everyone,
I bought my 528i (03/1996 E39) in the land of the rising sun. It was imported from California and has barely over 52000 miles on it. Today on my drive home I noticed steam? coming off from under my hood. I turned off the car and looked around once it was cooled and saw some leaking from the thermostat housing towards the left side. I'm going to order the parts I need and follow the instructions to redo the sections of the cooling system from this excellent write-up here
http://www.bimmerboard.com/forums/posts/199986 .
My questions are:
since that write up is from 2006 is the HEPU water pump still preferred?
If I wanted to go with an aluminum housing for the thermostat are there any good manufacturers or is the plastic OEM still the best?
which manufacturer for the thermostat itself is recommended?
and finally, should I buy the BMW coolant or is there another brand that meets the BMW specs?

This is a lot I understand but your inputs will be greatly appreciated.
Not sure what is available to you in japan but I would go with the graf pump, Nothing at all wrong with the hepu but over priced. On the stat housing I would stay oem, The alum ones are a gamble; Some are great others are poorly cast and cause issues.
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  #3  
Old 06-30-2010, 07:08 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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I wrote that write-up in 2006.

1. I have had HEPU now for four (4) years, rock solid. The Volvo people use HEPU Water Pump alot.

2. The only reason Aluminum tstat housing has issues is the imperfect surface (not straight smooth). If you decide to use Aluminum tstat housing, then get a very flat surface (such as a piece of glass etc.), then use a piece of fine sand paper to sand it so the surface is true straight. Otherwise it will leak.

Not sure? Bring it to a machine shop and ask them to smooth the mating surface for you.

3. Thermostat: I have had Behr 88C tstat now for 4 years, no issues. Fuel mileage still at 33 mpg on highway.

4. Coolant. I have always used Prestone Green in my BMWs for 20 years, no issues.

PS: You are lucky to own a 1997 528i. 1997 and 1998 are the best years. Also the low mileage helps.
BTW, I wrote a whole bunch of DIYs in this forums, when you have time, you can browse through them.

Last edited by cn90; 06-30-2010 at 07:36 AM.
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  #4  
Old 06-30-2010, 07:22 AM
Keii Keii is offline
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WOw from the Man Himself. I'm deeply in your debt. I will have to order everything from the states, so I'm stuck riding the train for a while until everything gets here, but that's not a big deal that just means I can drink a few on my way home. Thanks for your quick response.
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  #5  
Old 06-30-2010, 07:37 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Keii,
Just curious, Do you have online vendors selling Euro parts in Japan?
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  #6  
Old 06-30-2010, 07:57 AM
Keii Keii is offline
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I'm not really sure, I don't read Japanese so my wife looks for everything, and it's actually cheaper for me to buy parts from the US and get them shipped here. everything is expensive in Japan and the dollar to Yen rate doesn't help.
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  #7  
Old 06-30-2010, 08:04 AM
Keii Keii is offline
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Update: the local e-bay style site is called rakuten.co.jp they apparently have everything there, however just like e-bay it's buyer beware...
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  #8  
Old 06-30-2010, 08:19 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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For the coolant part of the question, see this thread specifically answering that (although for the USA, not Japan)...

As for the water pump brand, there are about a dozen that are sold for the BMW E39 so I agree it's confusing to choose one.

I think you (and I) have two fundamental options:
a) water pump, paper gasket, & rubber o-ring with composite impeller (OE & OEM & OES & OES Replacement)
b) water pump, paper gasket, & rubber o-ring with metal impellers (Aftermarket)

Since I have a cooling-system overhaul in my near future, I researched, & found a confusing dozen E39 suppliers:
1. Hepu (Cam likes 'em ... what more do we need to say ... )
2. Geba (heavy cast metal impeller, bearings sometimes fail)
3. Graf welded steel impeller (better but also occasional bearing failure)
4. Stewart EMP (some say they beef up the bearings to handle the metal)
5. GMB (I think this is OE with composite plastic impellers???)
6. Hella (I think this is OEM with composite plastic impellers)
7. Bosch (I don't know of any users who reported back on these)
8. Beck Arnley (they sell 'em but I don't know anyone using them)
9. Airtex (again, they sell 'em, but we'd have to hear from users first)
10. AC Delco (same as the last two above, they sell 'em)
11. A1 Cardone (they sell 'em, don't know much about 'em)
12. ??? please correct this list as needed so we all benefit ???

On the topic of the housing for the thermostat, I echo the sentiment that I've read the aluminum sometimes leaks due to a poor casting; yet, on the other side, the plastic is weak after 80K miles ... so ... it seems to be a tossup as to which way to go.

Do we have any KNOWN good brands for the aluminum thermostat housings?
(Note: I opened a separate water-pump supplier pro/con question over here.)

Last edited by bluebee; 06-30-2010 at 09:13 AM.
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  #9  
Old 06-30-2010, 08:23 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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bluebee,
Aluminum tstat housing only applies to 1997-98 years because of the mechanical thermostat.
1999-2003 uses a combo of tstat and housing (plastic) as a unit.
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  #10  
Old 06-30-2010, 08:43 AM
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Mack Mack is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
bluebee,
Aluminum tstat housing only applies to 1997-98 years because of the mechanical thermostat.
1999-2003 uses a combo of tstat and housing (plastic) as a unit.
Hey CN what do you think of this one from Zionsville that converts the TStat back to mechanical?

http://www.zionsvilleautosport.com/s...de/M54CTPK.htm

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  #11  
Old 06-30-2010, 09:03 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Dear Mack,

I don't know much about that Zionsville thingy.

I just spoke to my cousing BMW guru:
* 1997-98 (M52) has aluminum head + iron engine block
* 1999-2003 (M54) has aluminum head + aluminum engine block

So any overheat has severe consequence on the M54 more than on the M52. In other words:
- Overheat in M52: rebuild cylinder head, keep the engine block.
- Overheat in M54: new (used) engine is the answer!!!

So to digress a bit, for those newbies coming to the forum and keep asking "do I need to change my reservoir, radiator etc. etc.", heed the warning. Do a cooling overhaul if you have more than 80-90K. It is way cheaper than a new engine.
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  #12  
Old 06-30-2010, 09:05 AM
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doru doru is offline
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I am toying with different scenarios right now:
Go Evans NPG+, new WP (maybe Stewart). Leave everything else in place
or
Get the Zions rad for 650 (or how much it costs), get the T-stat you mentioned (Mack) combined with the Stewart WP. New pulleys and exp tank, new fan & clutch. Hoses.

The first scenario still has that scary T-stat, but the failure mode (at least what I experienced and what I read about it) is usually "stuck open" and NOT "stuck closed" - which would be scary. I believe "stuck open" will still run your antifreeze as opposed to "stuck close", where the antifreeze cannot leave the engine block anymore and overheats.
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  #13  
Old 06-30-2010, 09:15 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
1999-2003 uses a combo of tstat and housing (plastic) as a unit.
Oh my! I did not realize that.

So, for me (2002 I6), it looks like the only choice is the plastic (or the Zionsville electrical-to-mechanical-and-plastic-to-aluminum switcheroo).

Thanks for clarifying that (because it eliminates one decision point) ...

For me, the hardest part of a DIY job is making all the decisions!

Last edited by bluebee; 06-30-2010 at 09:19 AM.
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  #14  
Old 06-30-2010, 12:06 PM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
Dear Mack,

I don't know much about that Zionsville thingy.

I just spoke to my cousing BMW guru:
* 1997-98 (M52) has aluminum head + iron engine block
* 1999-2003 (M54) has aluminum head + aluminum engine block

So any overheat has severe consequence on the M54 more than on the M52. In other words:
- Overheat in M52: rebuild cylinder head, keep the engine block.
- Overheat in M54: new (used) engine is the answer!!!

So to digress a bit, for those newbies coming to the forum and keep asking "do I need to change my reservoir, radiator etc. etc.", heed the warning. Do a cooling overhaul if you have more than 80-90K. It is way cheaper than a new engine.
If we are talking about e39 528i engines, is the M54 the same as the M52TU? In another thread I recently asked the forum how to tell the difference between the M52 and M52TU. Edjack informed me the M52TU has the aluminum block and double vanos, but then Goose5691 followed up saying that all e39 engines have aluminum blocks. Confusing....
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  #15  
Old 07-19-2010, 05:13 AM
Keii Keii is offline
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Unhappy woah!

hey everyone... finally after two weeks of cold drinks on the train, I got all my parts in the mail, into the car... and I've run into a snag. I must have missed something somewhere because I can't get the whole 5.5qt's of antifreeze, let alone any of the water. I serviced it from the thermostat housing but it overflowed on me before there was even 3 in there... Anything I might have overlooked? was the engine supposed to be on? I've got the car on an incline but I'm really lost... I may just have to take it to the local shop and have them do it.
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  #16  
Old 07-19-2010, 06:00 AM
dinty44 dinty44 is offline
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It's probable that only ~3 qts of antifreeze drained out when you were taking things apart. I would fill it up using as much as it will take, make sure it's not leaking, let the car idle for a few minutes then using the bleed screws, make sure there aren't any air bubbles in the lines. Keep an eye on the water temp while it's running.

Also a tip on adding coolant: I add 1 qt water, 1 qt antifreeze, 1 qt water, 1 qt antifreeze.... instead of 1 gallon antifreeze 1 gallon water. This way, not knowing how much it'll take, I'm never in a situation where I have too much of one ingredient and not enough of the other. I've even used pints when I think I'm getting close to filled. I live in Texas so no chance in freezing here but when I lived 30 miles from the Canadian border, I did own a antifreeze checker with the floating balls.

Last edited by dinty44; 07-19-2010 at 06:04 AM.
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  #17  
Old 07-19-2010, 08:01 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keii View Post
hey everyone... finally after two weeks of cold drinks on the train, I got all my parts in the mail, into the car... and I've run into a snag. I must have missed something somewhere because I can't get the whole 5.5qt's of antifreeze, let alone any of the water. I serviced it from the thermostat housing but it overflowed on me before there was even 3 in there... Anything I might have overlooked? was the engine supposed to be on? I've got the car on an incline but I'm really lost... I may just have to take it to the local shop and have them do it.
Just make sure:

1. The reservoir if at FULL.

2. The bleeder screw on the thermostat housing is loosen a bit to allow air to escape, the gently close it.

Then start the engine and go through the bleeding process (set HVAC at Max Heat).
The closely monitor the temp gauge during the bleeding process.
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