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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 08-01-2010, 01:34 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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WANTED: An ingenious method of removing radiator nipple

Goal: Devise an ingenious method to remove this radiator nipple, intact!
Reason: It would improve the fan shroud removal DIY steps by eliminating the need to destroy the factory hose clamp.

DETAILS:
- One of the steps in the fan shroud removal process is destroying the factory clamp on the expansion tank overflow hose into the radiator nipple.
- Very often, this brittle nipple breaks off while you're manhandling the factory clamp (due both to age and poor design of the factory nipple)
- Even if the nipple doesn't break off, you now have to place a less-than-optimal clamp on the end of the hose securing it to the nipple
- If you put that clamp on wrong (see cn90 warnings), it will even interfere with the placement of the fan shroud

Caveat:
- Even with a feasible method of nipple removal, an old nipple might still be fragile and break, so always keep a spare on hand.

REQUEST:
- Can one of the brighter folks on this forum devise a method to remove the radiator nipple intact?

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  #2  
Old 08-01-2010, 08:06 AM
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540iman 540iman is offline
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I don't know that the nipple is meant to be removed Blue. Besides, the factory crimped hose is better removed and replaced with a worm drive hose clamp anyway. I know you are voracious in your quest for knowledge and solutions which I really appreciate as I'm the same way..must know not just the "how", but the "why" which I think is even more important. I like to try and get into the head of the guy who designed the thing and figure out why they did it this way or that way. Was it driven by simply cost, or necessity, or to thwart the DIY'er. In the case of BMW, we know that thwarting the DIY'er in the interest of selling parts drives BMW to an incredible degree.

I think your posts can potentially branch off into too many areas at once and by the time you are done you will be al the way back to the differential! For those of us who would like to help you, maybe just (for now) keep us up-to-date on where you are with the alternator change-out. I confess to not reading all of your posts end-to-end so I believe you have the new alternator in, but are stuck at getting the fan clutch nut to thread back onto the water pump. Just a suggestion that we stay on that and then come back to some of the asides later. I just use a good set of side-cutters to remove those factory hose clamps and plan to replace with the good, wider, stainless steel conventional clamps. When you mess with the power steering pump leaks, you will find the factory crimp clamps there will drive you to drink!
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  #3  
Old 08-01-2010, 09:09 AM
oembimmerparts oembimmerparts is offline
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Just remove the upper radiator hose and use that hole as a access point to squeeze the prongs together on the nipple. This is how I did it when working a friends car.
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  #4  
Old 08-01-2010, 09:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 540iman View Post
I like to try and get into the head of the guy who designed the thing and figure out why they did it this way or that way.
Me too!

I keep thinking of how proud some of the engineers must be of their myriad elegant/diabolical harness connectors, for example. And, I wonder what severe time constraints they must have been under to have thrown in those wonderfully useless cup holders & armrests at the last minute. But then, I get to thinking about their management, and how they never considered that the trunk loom would be subject to the stress of repeated openings and closings ... all conflicting thoughts aplenty!

Quote:
Originally Posted by 540iman View Post
I think your posts can potentially branch off into too many areas at once and by the time you are done you will be all the way back to the differential!
I was worried about that. My posts work like my brain does; firing in all directions at once. I'll try to take your advice. If I need to open a new thread, I'll try to make it only for a point solution (like what size is the o ring).

I do feel there's value in listing the part number for the o-ring, for example, or in publicizing cn90's fan-nut string method, or in honing the parts list.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 540iman View Post
maybe just (for now) keep us up-to-date on where you are with the alternator change-out.
Good advice!

Belatedly, I realize how HUGE this 'unplanned overhaul" grows on its own if I let it ... i.e., "if you're already there, you might as well change x" where x seems to be:
a) Let's assume you're changing the alternator ...
b) You may as well change the belts ...
c) And, if you're doing the belts, why not the rollers & tensioners ...
d) And while you're there, inspect and fix the OFH gasket ...
e) The red leaking PS fluid will prompt you to repair the reservoir hose ...
f) And, since it's all out, you may as well handle the ICV and CCV valves ...
g) Of course, if you end up removing the fan shroud ... you may as well do the fan and clutch and coolant reservoir ...
h) And, why do the coolant reservoir w/o doing the hoses ...
i) Which it would now be crazy not to replace the thermostat & housing ...
j) Doing that begs replacement of the sensors and sensor o-ring ...
k) Once you get this far, you may as well exchange the radiator ...
l) And if you do that, there's room to remove the water pump ...
m) But wait ... there's a valve cover gasket leak!
n) So may as well do the valve cover & VANOS at the same time
(Did I miss anything suggested so far?)

Oh, and research it all, decide on the parts, the procedures, snap photographs, write up the results, etc.

But, after that, you've got the ideal wholly unplanned BMW E39 engine overhaul!

Quote:
Originally Posted by 540iman View Post
I believe you have the new alternator in, but are stuck at getting the fan clutch nut to thread back onto the water pump.
I was stuck there (and I may still be); but the cooling system overhaul overtook that concern ... ... Maybe I should take the advice and step back and just finish the alternator job before tackling the cooling system unprepared.

We can always improve the DIY steps later!
- Improve the parts list (including part numbers for the rivets, o-rings, nipples, clamps, etc.)
- Eliminate (if possible) the pipe-clamp destruction step (by an ingenious method)
- List good sources for "solid" hose clamps and list sizes needed for PSP fix, radiator hose (is a clamp needed anywhere else?)
- Improve fan clutch nut cross threading preventive measures (gotcha)
- Improve rivet removal instructions (another gotcha)
etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 540iman View Post
I just use a good set of side-cutters to remove those factory hose clamps and plan to replace with the good, wider, stainless steel conventional clamps.
I tried pliars, vise grips, and even a hack saw on that factory clamp! That's why my nipple broke. I was told in one of the threads to buy SOLID clamps so this is what I bought (see pic below). The problem is nobody tells me the right SIZE to get ... I hope these are the right fit.

FINALLY: BACK ON TOPIC:
- I hope someone can come up with a non-destructive way to remove the nipple from the radiator.
Thousands of future DIYs would benefit since shroud removal is such a common first step!

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  #5  
Old 08-01-2010, 09:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oembimmerparts View Post
remove the upper radiator hose and use that hole as a access point to squeeze the prongs together on the nipple.
I greatly appreciate the knowledge and help from the sponsors, such as you and eac tuning. You guys own these things that you sell parts for. That's great for us.

If I were planning on doing the cooling system overhaul, then I certainly would have removed the top hose. Trust me, while working on the alternator and front tensioner, I blessed that hose with a set of curses that haven't been heard since the Mongol hordes ravaged the steppes of Asia!

But, in this case, I was 'just' removing the fan shroud (to get access to the water pump nut which I damaged the threads on screwing the fan back on as one of the last steps of an alternator repair job).

In keeping with Mongol tradition, the whole point of removing the royal fan shroud from power was to not let a drop of coolant blood touch the ground (Mongol fans will know what I'm talking about) ... so the whole point was NOT to remove the upper radiator hose.

Anyway, I don't know if anyone will come up with an idea for removing the nipple from the radiator non destructively but when I remove the radiator, I'll keep an extra nipple around to test various methods (the 10mm socket trick might work).

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Last edited by bluebee; 08-01-2010 at 09:35 AM.
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  #6  
Old 11-29-2010, 11:02 AM
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We still need a non-destructive radiator nipple-removal procedure!

Other than the nice hint to access the nipple from the inside of the radiator hose (which I'll explore separately), I'm surprised, but with all the brain talent we have here, we still haven't been able to come up with more ways of removing the expansion tank overflow hose from the radiator without having to remove the OEM hose clamp at the radiator nipple side.

I tried, again, to remove my radiator nipple non-destructively last week (and failed); yet I learned a few lessons, which may lead to a non-destructive solution, if we work at it.

- The first lesson I learned, last time, was that it's difficult to work on the smaller-sized OEM factory clamps without putting stresses on the radiator nipple, so, a less-stressful method needs to be devised to remove the factory radiator nipple clamp.

The OEM clamp is too strong to be easily cut with wire cutters (ask me how I know).


Pliers can peel the clamp off the end, like you peel a kids' fingers off the lid of the candy jar, but even that's too stressful. I suggest, belatedly, cutting the clamp off with a dremel tool. If you have a better suggestion, please advise as it's apropos also to the removal at the expansion tank nipple side.



- The next lesson I learned is that the Nissens radiator nipple has a larger bulb on the end than the original Behr radiator nipple. This necessitated a trip to the store to swap out the 11-13mm solid-band fuel-system-type hose clamp with a slightly larger size (it turns out that 14-16mm was too big & 11-13mm was too small).

- Another lesson I learned, the hard way, is that simply pressing out on the two tabs locking the nipple in place breaks off these two tabs quite easily. The problem with that is that these tabs are part of the radiator, not part of the nipple. So, once you break these two tabs, you're ruined the radiator.


- However, the good news is that once you release the pressure of these two tabs, then using a screwdriver, you can easily pry out the radiator nipple intact (if it's not too brittle due to age).


Applying twisting force with successively larger screwdrivers slowly pushes the nipple out of the radiator.


Until finally, the nipple is free of the radiator, without having to destroy the factory OEM clamp (note in this case the clamp was destroyed when I needed to replace my alternator).



BTW, I do realize that in an older radiator, trying to non-destructively remove the nipple is futile due to the brittle nature of the plastic over time. However, once you replace your radiator, if you have to go back in (and you will, to do the belts, VANOS, etc.), it will be very helpful if we have a non-destructive method of removal.

At the moment, here are my recommendations as we seek a better solution:

0. A non-destructive removal is NOT to save the money on a nipple! The purpose is to eliminate the problems associated with replacing the factory clamp with a bulkier problematic hose clamp as there is precious little room in that particular area for the fan shroud to seat properly above that non-factory hose clamp (ask me how I know).

1. If your radiator is old, then you probably don't stand a chance at a non-destructive fan-shroud removal procedure. Period.

2. If your radiator is new, I'm sure we can find a way to non-destructively remove the nipple. The key is to not break off the tabs on the radiator.

3. Once the radiator tabs are free, then the nipple does come out easily with simple twists of successively larger screwdrivers.
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Last edited by bluebee; 11-29-2010 at 02:06 PM.
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  #7  
Old 11-29-2010, 12:32 PM
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16valex 16valex is offline
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Owning an E39 is like having a losing war with BMW. So, choose your battle.
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  #8  
Old 01-11-2011, 10:51 AM
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For the record, yet another BMW DIY effort resulted in a broken nipple today.
- Nipple broken in half -- radiator vent hose fitting

The quest is how best to remove the nipple without breaking it; and, once broken, how best to remove the broken half of the nipple stuck inside the radiator.

Personally, I just ungracefully pushed the broken half INTO the radiator with a screwdriver; but cn90 suggests an alternate method of using a drywall screw to pull it out in this thread ... (being careful when depressing the tabs on the radiator itself).

But if someone is successful with Mark's clever method of removing the entire nipple intact from the radiator hose neck, please post a picture of the process so we all benefit from the tribal expertise!

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  #9  
Old 01-11-2011, 02:06 PM
andres andres is offline
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bluebee: "But if someone is successful with Mark's clever method of removing the entire nipple intact from the radiator hose neck, please post a picture of the process so we all benefit from the tribal expertise!"

where is Mark's method - could you post a link here? thanks.
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  #10  
Old 01-11-2011, 05:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andres View Post
where is Mark's method - could you post a link here? thanks.
My mistake.

It was "Max's" method; not Mark's.

Max is at OEMbimmerparts.com and his method is listed in post #3 above.

Sorry about that confusion.

BTW, for the record, I think you got MOST of the nipple out using the method from cn90 of pulling it out with a wood screw.

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  #11  
Old 01-11-2011, 06:40 PM
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I feel for you Bluebee :-)
I leaned on my cowl one day and a leak developed. I traced it to that plastic elbow which had snapped. The air was blue, I can tell you! I glued and sealed it as best I could and ordered a couple of new ones from a place in the US. They are not available as separate items in this country (UK). They are made in Germany, but for some reason they never arrive in the UK! It cost me over 30 in postage, lol. At least I've got a couple of spares now :-)
I was lucky in that I was able to pry out the remnants of the elbow with screwdrivers, pliers and bad language! I think I scared it out! BMW UK wanted me to buy a new radiator! The air was blue there as well.
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Old 01-11-2011, 07:51 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Another way is to pass an electrical solid copper wire (the same wire using in household wiring) through the hole of the broken nipple, then thread it out of the UPPER rad outlet (disconnect the Upper Rad Hose 1st).

Then push the broken nipple downward and slide it out using the wire via the Upper Rad Outlet.

Last edited by cn90; 01-11-2011 at 08:03 PM.
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  #13  
Old 01-11-2011, 08:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
slide it out using the wire via the Upper Rad Outlet.
That's a GREAT idea!

Seems to me, this is the tribal knowledge suggestion (so far):
  1. If you wish to remove the nipple & o-ring intact ...
  2. Remove the upper radiator hose (see this DIY for non-destructive removal hints).
  3. Try to squeeze the nipple prongs from INSIDE the radiator (accessing through the upper hose neck)
  4. Pull up on the nipple ... and hope that it comes out fully intact ...
  5. If the nipple breaks (and it just might) ... then ... pick out the o-ring using a dental pick ... and then ...
  6. Thread a coat hanger (or any wire) down from the top through the center of the broken part of the nipple stuck inside the radiator and then out the open hose hole ...
  7. Then, with a screwdriver, push the broken nipple neck down, into the radiator, and then out the radiator neck hole - sliding it along the wire.
I would love to see the NEXT person replacing their radiator to test this procedure out for us!

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  #14  
Old 01-11-2011, 08:02 PM
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dalekressin dalekressin is offline
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Bluebee, I'm always amazed at the level of thinking you pour into the E39.
Great ideas in fighting the radiator nipple problem.
I'm keeping a spare in my glove box!
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  #15  
Old 01-11-2011, 08:06 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dalekressin View Post
...I'm keeping a spare in my glove box!
LOL, I have a spare nipple in the trunk too but....as we do cooling overhaul every 8-10years/80-90K miles, I think this should be part of routine maintenance, so halfway through the above intervals, such as every 4-5 years, replace the nipple so this way you don't have to deal with broken nipple.

It is only $1. And the best part is that you do this under a controlled environment at home and not in the middle of nowhere!
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Old 01-11-2011, 08:37 PM
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I had the same issue with a broken nipple this past spring. I like the wire trick. At the time, not thinking of that I removed the upper hose and inserted a baseball card into the hole to prevent the broken nipple piece from falling into the radiator, and pushed it down and out. Luckily, this worked for me.
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Old 01-11-2011, 08:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
It is only $1.
Everywhere but in San Jose where it's almost $4 ... but even so ... I agree with everything you said!

Let's see if the next person with this problem can test out our radiator nipple non-destructive removal DIY (which is especially useful when all you "really" want to do is remove the fan shroud):

Radiator nipple mishaps:
- Belt Replacement Mishap (broken nipple)
- 99 528i.. i broke the nipple that the overlow tube connects
- Radiator "gurus" please chime in ! (broken nipple)
- Radiator experts - Need help identifying a nipple
- Radiator Nipple (5-series DIY)
- Can my nipple be fixed?




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Old 01-11-2011, 08:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rph74 View Post
inserted a baseball card into the hole to prevent the broken nipple piece from falling into the radiator, and pushed it down and out
That's another interesting method, once the nipple is sheared off, to keep the pieces out of the radiator.

BTW, if someone can read this rather old 5-series DIY post #16 and explain in more detail what the 10mm socket trick is doing to allow a non-destructive removal of the radiator nipple ... we'd all benefit!

"I recently replaced my radiator with a Behr OEM unit. It was immediately leaking from this nipple. (In fact, I thought it might be some sort of pressure relief valve) It turned out that the nipple had a crushed and torn rubber washer.

You will note that the nipple has a tri-pronged end that gets pushed into the radiator. It clips into place. In order to take out the "old" one, I put a 10mm socket into the upper radiator hose opening, and pushed it on to the "clipped" end to push it closed enough so that I could pry out the old one. I TIED A STRING TO THE SOCKET SO THAT IF I DROPPED THE SOCKET, IT WOULDN'T END UP AT THE BOTTOM OF THE RADIATOR. This worked flawlessly.
"

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Old 01-12-2011, 06:39 AM
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I wouldn't be at all surprised to find worn out radiators with the bottom half of that elbow still inside them, just sitting there on top of the core! It's unlikely to cause any problems if you just pushed it down. I don't think it can go anywhere can it? I suspect it's been done a thousand times by less fastidious owners.
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Old 01-12-2011, 06:43 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Yes and No.

Broken plastic inside radiator: usually no issues.
Broken plastic inside engine coolant passages ---> potential problems.
People are lucky that the UPPER Rad Hose is the outlet, so hot coolant flows from engine ---> UPPER Rad Hose, so the broken plastic is likely to stay in the radiator's left plastic tank instead of flowing back into the engine.
best is to remove the broken part using a wire to fish it out (when using a wire, bend the top a bit like a small hook so during removal, the broken plastic will not fall off).
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Old 01-12-2011, 06:49 AM
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Understood :-)
Maybe even a piece of a metal coat hanger (or two) with the ends bent up could get it out. Although I spent about half an hour getting mine out I considered myself lucky at the time :-)
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Old 01-12-2011, 10:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quackers View Post
Maybe even a piece of a metal coat hanger (or two) with the ends bent up could get it out
As cn90 said, the broken pieces are not likely to go anywhere.

This is what the core looks like.
- BMW E39 failed radiator & failed expansion tank pictorial autopsy

The broken radiator pieces, if they float, won't fit into those teeny tiny slits.


The pieces that don't float will simply sink down to the bottom where the drain plug lies.



I guess, if there were enough of a vortex current, the pieces could eventually float to the top and be sucked out the upper radiator hose.

That would not be a good thing for the water pump, I would think; nor for the thermostat; or for any of those small bleed passageways.

But, I found a way today to remove the broken pieces without worry. See the next post as I'm going outside for the light to take a good picture (light is everything).
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Old 01-12-2011, 12:36 PM
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Explanation of the 10mm/9mm socket trick to push out the nipple intact

This is what the nipple looks like when in place.

Notice that the two alignment tabs are missing here (I broke them off trying to remove the nipple by a different method). I think those tabs do nothing other than to prevent the nipple from going into the radiator the wrong way (notice the corresponding alignment slots in the nipple).



According to the original reference and to my initial observations, a 10mm socket seems to fit the nipple best.


This is what the nipple looks like from the inside.


The problem is that very little of the nipple actually protrudes into the radiator itself ... so there is precious little purchase for the 10mm socket to grab.


So, I found that a 9mm socket is a better match for pushing the radiator nipple out from the inside without breaking the nipple.


Here, you see, that the 9mm socket does work to compress the tabs of the nipple so that the nipple can be pushed out of the radiator, intact.



The problem, of course, will be that you don't want to lose the 9mm socket so here is what you'd likely do.


The stated technique of removing the radiator nipple intact is interesting, but, I think it may be problematic for large hands to do all of this from the radiator hose opening.

Time will tell. I hope the next person who sees this who needs to remove his radiator nipple intact can try it out for us and let us know how it works or how to improve upon the procedure.
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  #24  
Old 01-12-2011, 01:25 PM
540indiana's Avatar
540indiana 540indiana is offline
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Plastic Surgeory perhaps???
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  #25  
Old 12-11-2011, 08:52 AM
bluebee's Avatar
bluebee bluebee is offline
Seek to understand,^Value
Location: San Jose, California
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
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Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 auto 130K
For the record, this related thread was opened recently discussing this nipple:
- E39 (1997 - 2003) > Radiator leaking from plug on top of radiator

Quote:
Originally Posted by 540i-Boogie View Post
This plugs kind of snaps into the radiator and mine is leaking coolant. I removed it and tried to put some silicon sealant around it to stop the leak but it still leaks.
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