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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 02-02-2011, 11:50 AM
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What are the dogmatic antifreeze "camps" we all fit into when it comes to our coolant

Similar to the four motor oil camps, I just realized there are probably similar (slightly different) anti-freeze camps.

In response to a frantic poster who proclaimed they needed a flush because they put the "wrong coolant" (i.e., not BMW branded) in their 2002 540i, I propose the following four antifreeze camps for discussion.

Do all of us fit into one of these camps?
1. The BMW is "different", so, use only what BMW approves (i.e., it's listed on a sheet of paper or it's not)
2. The BMW is "different", so use #1 or anything else that is equivalent (based on the spirit of the BMW recommendations)
3. Use exotic stuff (like NPG+) which changes the characteristics of your cooling system (for the better presumably)
4. The BMW is nothing special; so use whatever everyone else uses for aluminum engines with non-ferrous cylinder liners

Ignoring the undecided, does this summarize the four camps every one of us seems to belong to when it comes to advising what coolant to use in our BMW E39s?

NOTE: As with motor oil, a key point is how often the coolant is replaced; but that's not the topic of this thread. Nor is the topic what specific coolant to use (unless it creates yet another camp).

Last edited by bluebee; 02-03-2011 at 07:28 PM.
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  #2  
Old 02-02-2011, 12:27 PM
air_cooled air_cooled is offline
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Put me down for 2. Use #1 or anything else that is equivalent (based on the spirit of the BMW recommendations)......and before you #1ers start yapping about how the price difference is negligible, you really need to know how much we are bent over up here in the great white north.
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  #3  
Old 02-02-2011, 02:36 PM
98540iA 98540iA is offline
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I use the "European formula" stuff by Peak. Has worked fine for many years and is easily accessible. Not sure what camp that is...probably #2

Last edited by 98540iA; 02-03-2011 at 07:54 PM.
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  #4  
Old 02-02-2011, 03:08 PM
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Put me down for both #1 and #3.

I can't see any reason to use brand other than BMW Coolant (unless in can reduce the pressure in the system). The cost of a coolant refill every couple years is nothing compared to the cost of a cooling system rebuild or a blown head gasket.

BMW, $17.00 per gal. mixed 50/50 with distilled water @ $.60 per gallon = $8.80 per gallon of coolant.
NPG, no mixing allowed = $27.00 per gallon (still cheap if it prevents any problems).
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Last edited by chiefwej; 02-02-2011 at 03:09 PM.
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  #5  
Old 02-03-2011, 07:26 PM
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Chief,
I just returned home to Massachusetts tonight from a few days in Scottsdale and I must say it was just as cold yesterday in AZ as it is here now. No snow, but just as cold. So cold in fact they had to cancel the pro-am at the Phoenix open because the greens were frozen. I know you were very happy running NPG all summer, anything different to report running it in the cold weather?
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  #6  
Old 02-03-2011, 08:38 PM
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chiefwej chiefwej is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dms540i View Post
Chief,
I just returned home to Massachusetts tonight from a few days in Scottsdale and I must say it was just as cold yesterday in AZ as it is here now. No snow, but just as cold. So cold in fact they had to cancel the pro-am at the Phoenix open because the greens were frozen. I know you were very happy running NPG all summer, anything different to report running it in the cold weather?
Not really that cold here. I moved here from Hingham, MA in 2005. Also lived just north of Chicago for many years, where I can recall a temp once of -38. So even the coldest day of the winter, (and today was the coldest day in the last five years) isn't THAT cold. High of 38 today with 19 low predicted for tonight. Generally our low temps are warmer than your highs for a given day.

Anyway, no issues with the NPG. I do have a tiny leak, (just an occasional drop on the garage floor) that I haven't tracked down yet. But I'm sure the leak would be a lot worse if there were any pressure in the system.
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  #7  
Old 12-13-2012, 07:57 PM
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There's an hour-long Prestone coolant video that you might like posted here today:
> E46 (1999 - 2006) > the end to all "can i use this coolant?" threads

Quote:
Originally Posted by chansta View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
We have a few long time reports on the propanol-based cooling system fluids in the E39 side of the house (same engine as you E46 guys for the most part):
- Modifying the cooling system pressure cap (1), or using propanol-based zero-pressure fluids like NPG+ (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) or all-aluminum cooling system parts by Zionsville (1) (2) (3) aluminum radiators & what happens if you drive one mile too far with an overheated BMW cooling system (1).

After much soul searching, we've found there are really three kinds of BMW owners when it comes to fluids (4 if you modify coolant choices):

The fluids each type of owner chooses (and argues about) is based more on their personality than on anything else.

They choose either:
1. Only BMW recommendations, or,
2. BMW recommendations plus anything that meets BMW standards, or,
3. BMW recommendations plus anything meeting BMW standards plus logical alternatives that meet industry standards
(4). Something else altogether (e.g., proponol) that works around a particular design problem.

Only when you (each one of us, yes, that's me and YOU too!) realize that you're only one of three types of owner - can you ACCEPT the choices of the others.

Only acceptance, and understanding of the personalities, can end the dogmatic arguments and get us back to healthy discussions.
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See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 12-15-2012 at 03:58 AM.
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  #8  
Old 12-14-2012, 05:44 AM
AH673000 AH673000 is offline
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Thanks BB..... It is always nice to learn the science instead of being held captive by the marketing spin.

BMW is the queen of spin ...... And some folks are hopelessly in love with the spin.

BMW stuff is good ..... But terribly over priced for my taste. I buy some and pass on most ..... And so far my 1997 looks/ drives/ performs like new.

Thanks for all you do on this forum.... And btw on this topic I am in bucket 2.
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  #9  
Old 12-14-2012, 06:19 AM
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  #10  
Old 12-14-2012, 06:57 AM
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I'm in the first camp. After mixing 50/50 BMW Blue coolant cames out to be the same price as other aftermarket brands.
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  #11  
Old 12-14-2012, 11:54 AM
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Nothing wrong with the BMW blue flavor of coolant. Works as intended if changed every 2 years.
Camp #1 for me.
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  #12  
Old 12-15-2012, 03:43 AM
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Put me down for #4. I have been using generic Prestone green for 25 years in a variety of BMWs, Toyota, Honda, VW etc. etc., zero issues.

Food for thought: we use gasoline from local gas stations and not gasoline from Germany.

There are however a few things that I stick to BMW, no matter what:
- Coolant reservoir
- Fan Blade
- FSR
- Cam/Crank sensor
etc.

Last edited by cn90; 12-15-2012 at 03:44 AM.
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  #13  
Old 12-15-2012, 04:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
There are however a few things that I stick to BMW, no matter what:
- Coolant reservoir
- Fan Blade
- FSR
- Cam/Crank sensor
etc.
I'll make sure they're in the list below:
- What E39 parts are most often recommended to only buy OEM (1)
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Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
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  #14  
Old 03-06-2013, 09:34 AM
Joelgk Joelgk is offline
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So, what coolant is required for an E39 530i - no need for antifreeze as I live in the warmer part of the world..Am planning an entire cooling system overhaul, have got all the parts, all front hoses, pipes, O rings and also a new CCV.
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  #15  
Old 03-06-2013, 09:48 AM
jygesq jygesq is offline
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anti freeze does provide some lubrication for cooling system parts. A gallon of bmw coolant would not hurt.
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  #16  
Old 03-06-2013, 10:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joelgk View Post
So, what coolant is required for an E39 530i
This thread isn't about 'what coolant' as that's already amply covered elsewhere:
- What coolant to use, for engine, automatic transmission, power steering, and AC evaporator cooling (1) & cooling system bleeding (1) (2) (3) or refilling DIYs (1)
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Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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  #17  
Old 03-06-2013, 11:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joelgk View Post
So, what coolant is required for an E39 530i - no need for antifreeze as I live in the warmer part of the world..Am planning an entire cooling system overhaul, have got all the parts, all front hoses, pipes, O rings and also a new CCV.
Antifreeze mix won't just lower freezing point of coolant, but also raising boiling point too. It wouldn't hurt with 50/50, but you can get by with 30/70 (antifreeze/water)
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  #18  
Old 03-06-2013, 12:36 PM
AH673000 AH673000 is offline
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  #19  
Old 03-06-2013, 02:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by air_cooled View Post

put me down for 2. Use #1 or anything else that is equivalent (based on the spirit of the bmw recommendations)......and before you #1ers start yapping about how the price difference is negligible, you really need to know how much we are bent over up here in the great white north. :d
+1
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  #20  
Old 03-06-2013, 03:30 PM
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#3. Evans NPG+

I usually stay away from both dogma and exotic crap, (#4 I guess) but there is a real problem here with this cooling system's operating pressure and choice of materials that is not being addressed. This is the only working solution/workaround to the problem I've seen so I'm using it.
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  #21  
Old 03-06-2013, 06:14 PM
Bwood1 Bwood1 is offline
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NPG+ as well. I have posted many times that it saved my engine, so I am a true believer!
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  #22  
Old 03-07-2013, 03:31 PM
Aussie528iT Aussie528iT is offline
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It also has anti-corrosive properties. Essential for aluminium alloy parts in contact with other metals to prevent electrolytic corrosion. Its doesn't get cold downunder either but you still need to use it. The BMW coolant is also "Nitrate Free" and meets the BMW/BASF specs. So any coolant that meets this would be OK. The BMW coolant isn't any dearer than any other brand and downunder its cheaper to use the BMW coolant from the dealer. It doesn't need to be 50/50 mix here. I use 25/75 ratio and that gives more than enough low temp protection.

RonR
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  #23  
Old 05-04-2014, 05:50 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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The question came up again today:
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > What type of Coolant - BMW 525I 03

Quote:
Originally Posted by vpower1989 View Post
Hello everyone.

I got the "coolant level low" message on my dash yesterday. I removed the cap of the reservoir and it is definitely low. No physical leaks identified and the car has never overheated in the few months that I've owned it. I think the sudden temperature changes that have occurred lately are bringing this issue to light.


Here's my question: is there some brand that I can get from the local NAPA that would be ok to top off my coolant level with??

Also it's the time of the year where bugs and **** start splatting on the windshield. When I open the hood there appears to be two spots to put cleaner. Are there separate reservoirs for the windshield and the headlights?
Quote:
Originally Posted by eparayno View Post
Top it off with distilled water
You don't even need that.
Tap water will suffice in many locations.
For example, we've looked closely at the water in San Jose and New York City and our tap water far exceeds BMW published specs.


Quote:
Originally Posted by rdl View Post
The "correct" coolant is an endless debate, surpassed only by the "best oil" question.
Agreed. The less the fluid matters, the more debate there is on it:
- What religious arguments are used in BMW E39 coolant decisions (1)

I've read every single "what coolant" thread in the besltinks, and, "my" net is that I'd tell the OP to put in whatever floats his boat - but - I'd only put in the EXACT amount needed (or more, no less), due to the well known pressure issues of a boiling fluid in our cheap plastic Behr expansion tanks:
- How to modify the cooling system expansion tank 2 bar cap to 1.2 bar to vent at a lower pressure (1)

Quote:
Originally Posted by rdl View Post
E39s had an option for an "intensive clean" windshield washer.
We have a thread for EVERY fluid used in the E39.
Here's just the summary thread ...
- BMW E39 fluid summary printout for your glovebox (1)

Quote:
Originally Posted by rdl View Post
missed the question about headlight washers.
See also:
Quote:
- Glovebox printout: BMW E39 fluid summary printout for your glovebox (1)
- Motor oil: BMW approved motor oils (pdf) & tribal motor oil recommendations (1) (2) (3) & gravity oil change DIY (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) & vacuum extraction DIY (1) (2) (3) & drill pump DIY (1)
- Gasoline: Engine fuel & octane (1) & "The Gasoline FAQ" & top-tier gas stations (1) & Techron additives (1) & how to clean your gas gauge sending unit (1) & mpg calculations (1) how large is the fuel tank and reserve in the E39 (1) & what gasoline to use (1) & how much gas should be left to cool the fuel pump (1) & how to siphon the fuel out of the tank (1) & what is the cost differential between 87 & 91 octane AKI (1)
- MTF: Manual transmission fluid (1) (2) & manual transmission fluid-change DIYs (1) (2) (3)
- ATF: Automatic transmission fluid (1) (2) (3) (4) & automatic transmission fluid & filter DIYs (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) & torque values (1) & how to find the hidden E39 transmission fluid level dipstick (1) & why ATF gushes out of the fill hole (1) & ZF 5HP19 facts (1)
- PSF: Power steering fluid (1) (2) & power steering fluid flush DIYs (1) (2) (3) (4) & volumes (1)
- Coolant: Coolant, for engine, automatic transmission, power steering, and AC evaporator cooling (1) & bleeding (1) (2) (3) or refilling DIYs (1)
- Brake & clutch fluid: Brake & clutch hydraulic fluid (1) & recommended E39 brake job "fluids" (1) & how brake bleeding DIYs (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
- A/C: Air conditioner refrigerant & PAG oil (1) & how to refill your A/C system (1) (2) (3) (4) & what to use to rid yourself of the BMW gym sock stink (1)
- Differential: Rear differential hypoid gear oil (1) & differential fluid change DIYs (1) (2) (3)
- Battery: What battery (1) & what battery maintenance (1) & battery electrolyte (1) & battery replacement DIY (1) (2) (3) & how NOT to change the battery (1) (2) (3)
- Windshield fluid: Windshield washer fluid (1)
- Intensive cleaner: Intensive cleaning system fluid (1)
- Windows: Window glass cleaner fluids & cloths for the inside window & windshield glass (1)
- Tire air: Recommended tire pressures (1) (2) (3) & the claimed benefits of nitrogen gas (1) (2)
- Wheels: Best product for cleaning wheels (1)
- Interior: Interior cockpit & dashboard cleaners (1)
- Carpets: Suggested carpet cleaners (1)
- Floormats: Suggested floor mat cleaning & shampooing (1)
- Headliner: Solvent for cleaning the headliner fabric (1)
- Vapor barriers: Sealant for door panel vapor barriers (1) & sizes for the adhesive (1)
- Engine cleaner: External engine degreaser, engine bay cleaning & engine compartment detailing (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8)
- BMW list of lubricants, sealants, & thread lockers (pdf) (shrunk gif) (original-size jpg)
- Fundamental BMW decision-making religious camps (1) & motor oil Petrolism (1), coolant decisions (1), & gasoline dogma (1)
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Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 05-04-2014 at 05:57 PM.
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  #24  
Old 05-15-2014, 06:12 PM
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From this thread today, we have some nice pictures which show a key value of the BMW blue, when it comes to finding leaks:
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > Cooling system questions

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Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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  #25  
Old 05-17-2014, 05:16 AM
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Distilled vs Tap Water

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
...Tap water will suffice in many locations.
For example, we've looked closely at the water in San Jose and New York City and our tap water far exceeds BMW published specs.
...
I think the major reasons distilled water is recommended to mix with BMW coolant or for topping off the cooling system is that "tap" or "drinking" water contains added things like fluoride & other additives, contaminants & naturally occurring minerals that are removed in the process of "purifying" distilled water.

If one uses a steam iron on a regular bases or even a small appliance like a coffee maker where water is brought to the boiling point or hot enough to create steam...take note of how mineral deposits are left behind and build up. Using tap water in your cooling system can cause the same deposit build up...thus many people choose the suggestion/recommendation to use distilled water instead of tap due to the purifying process it goes through that removes the additives and naturally occurring minerals from tap/drinking water.

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