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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E39 (1997 - 2003)

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 04-15-2013, 05:45 PM
DomS DomS is offline
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Mein Auto: BMW 2002 (E39) 530i
Radiator replacement really necessary?

Hello everyone,

On Thursday comes the cooling system overhaul for my '02 530i. Here's what I'm replacing:
Thermostat
Water pump
Radiator hoses (upper & lower)
Bypass hose from radiator to reservoir

A/C belt & WP-Alt-Ps belt (if I see necessary)

I have 96k kms on the clock. (60k miles).

It seems that most are replacing radiators around the 80k mile mark, so I'm wondering if it's really necessary to replace the rad?

Thank you in advance
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  #2  
Old 04-15-2013, 06:30 PM
nedmon nedmon is offline
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Mein Auto: 1998 528i, 1987 Carrera,
Radiator replacement

DomS,

I have the original radiator at 169k miles and 15 years. I have preemptively replaced the stat, the pump, shroud, and fan. I replaced the fan clutch when it quit working. All this work after 100k miles. I did all the heater hoses last Fall after I found a small leak and should have done that earlier.

If you keep the original radiator, inspect it regularly and also get in the habit of checking the level in the overflow tank as the likely mode of radiator failure is initially a small leak.

I have changed the radiator hoses after each 50k miles.

Ned
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  #3  
Old 04-15-2013, 06:35 PM
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champaign777 champaign777 is offline
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my 3 radiator failed at 80-100k miles
i bought my from http://www.autohausaz.com/ SA Behr , google it you will find a lot of info

to make y life easy

http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum...rhaul-M54-530i
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Last edited by champaign777; 04-15-2013 at 06:39 PM.
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  #4  
Old 04-15-2013, 06:42 PM
air_cooled air_cooled is offline
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Mein Auto: E39 528i / E34 540i
Not it is not necessary but highly advised.
I've personally seen two radiators fail one was on my E39 during hose removal. The plastic on upper hose fitting tends to erode and weaken. Removing the hose may stress it more.
Budget and plan for it.
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  #5  
Old 04-15-2013, 06:57 PM
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Never hurts to do preventative maintenance.
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  #6  
Old 04-15-2013, 07:48 PM
edjack edjack is offline
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None of the plastic parts of the cooling system are exempt from failure. As Dirty Harry said, "Do you feel lucky?"

Pays yer money and takes yer chances.
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  #7  
Old 04-15-2013, 08:21 PM
acoste acoste is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edjack View Post
Do you feel lucky?
I do :-)
172k miles on original radiator, exp tank, fan & clutch

actually I'm scared to replace the exp tank because I have heard new tanks failing. My engine mounts are new so I don't have extra mechanical load to the cooling system.

I think it depends on the climate too. My car has never seen temperatures below 0 Celsius and plastic parts break easily in cold weather.
And sometimes I go to the desert which makes the fan work more but other parts are just a little bit warmer than on a regular day.
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  #8  
Old 04-16-2013, 02:29 AM
hqstu hqstu is offline
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I'm in the same climate and mine was nice to me, in developing a pinhole next to top hose entry, this was at 131k.
Some people are lucky and have a radiator that goes on and on, but there appears to be a strong line of history that indicates a significant fail rate around 130k and/or 8-10 years, climate and driving type being other factors, and also whether the radiator has already been stressed with having hoses wrenched off and on...

+1 on edjacks eloquent summary.
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  #9  
Old 04-16-2013, 04:27 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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The question to replace preemptively or to wait until failure to replace a part is dependent on the anticipated ownership life of the car and the attitude of the owner. Most of us e39 owners are in it for the long haul, in that we intend to drive these cars until the wheels fall off, which is a very rare sentiment regarding car ownership. If that is true, then a cooling system failure is inevitable. Given that inevitability, cost is no longer a factor, it is simply a question of when. This then goes back to the attitude of the owner. Some folks fall under the "don't fix it unless it's broke" crowd. Others say, fix it preemptively to avoid getting stranded. Since cost is a wash, the preemptive maintenance crowd simply prefers to avoid getting stranded.

At 60K, you are well below the commonly used 100K threshold for cooling system replacement. However, 10 years is a long time for lower grade plastic components undergoing cyclical thermal stresses. At your rate of driving, you could easily go two years or more without a problem. Or it could blow tommorrow. Noone knows. FWIW, I preemtively replaced my entire cooling system at the 10 year mark with 105K.

One last philosophical point: Some prefer to do things piecemeal. Others prefer to do it all in one job. I fall in the latter category. I hate going back in to repeat work. Hence, I buy the best, most cost effective (not a Stewart WP!) parts available and do everything in a single job (front suspension & cooling). It's really just personal preference.
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  #10  
Old 04-16-2013, 05:24 AM
poolman poolman is offline
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One of the problems with rads and cooling system parts is old coolant--if you flush and replace the coolant once every couple of years you can lengthen the life of the parts--
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  #11  
Old 04-16-2013, 07:57 AM
AH673000 AH673000 is offline
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Mein Auto: 1997 BMW 528i
We have two 1997 BMWs ....

One is a Philly car...175k miles.... Original Radiator #1 failed in 2005 .... Behr replacement #2 still going in 2013.

Second is a Portland , Oregon car... Original radiator and expansion tank at 120k and 16 years . All replacement parts bought and ready. First leak showed up last week... Stress crack on bleeder coupling neck near thermostat. That's it for me.... Everything gets changed now .

I do agree that where a car grew up and whether it was garaged had a bunch to do with how long each part lasts.

For me.... All my used cars will be bought in Portland/ Seattle ... Clean air, lack of Sun damage, lack of potholes, no salt , and good dealers and indy's . The drive across the US to bring it home is a bonus.

I did experience an exploding plastic radiator on a different car once.. It is not a pleasant experience . No residual damage but a huge PITA.
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  #12  
Old 04-16-2013, 08:52 AM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DomS View Post
Hello everyone,

On Thursday comes the cooling system overhaul for my '02 530i. Here's what I'm replacing:
Thermostat
Water pump
Radiator hoses (upper & lower)
Bypass hose from radiator to reservoir

A/C belt & WP-Alt-Ps belt (if I see necessary)

I have 96k kms on the clock. (60k miles).

It seems that most are replacing radiators around the 80k mile mark, so I'm wondering if it's really necessary to replace the rad?

Thank you in advance
You're doing all of that and want to know whether it's okay to negate the entire exercise by leaving one of the time bombs ticking away in the system untouched? Bear in mind that the new stuff is more robust and the old rad will be the weakest link. It's 11 years old. Of course, no one here knows your skill level or whether you'll be successful in replacing the above parts without compromising something else in the process. That's your gamble.

Obviously from the question it's clear you don't want to replace the rad. Are you asking because you don't have the $ for a new one, or don't know how to remove it? You have to be the one to decide the risks. If the rad blows due to age or stressed plastics and you lose your engine from overheating, the car will be useless unless you spend several thousand dollars on a head job or replacement engine. At that time, I guess you will be happy to replace the radiator!

It's statistically interesting to find out how many people are driving e39s with original cooling parts, but none of that will have any bearing on your own luck with your own car.
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  #13  
Old 04-16-2013, 09:33 AM
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doru doru is offline
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The gamble of cooling parts failure should be looked at this way:
-If you DD the car in the city, monitor the KTMP & regularly check the radiator (like every other day or so). Make SURE you don't drive the car outside the city limits (long trips)
-If you plan driving on the Hiway, do the complete cooling overhaul.
-If you do a complete cooling overhaul, check the cooling threads on info for parts. Some will be worse than the one you replace if you opt to cheap out.
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  #14  
Old 04-16-2013, 10:12 AM
acoste acoste is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doru View Post
The gamble of cooling parts failure should be looked at this way:
-If you DD the car in the city, monitor the KTMP & regularly check the radiator (like every other day or so). Make SURE you don't drive the car outside the city limits (long trips)
-If you plan driving on the Hiway, do the complete cooling overhaul.
-If you do a complete cooling overhaul, check the cooling threads on info for parts. Some will be worse than the one you replace if you opt to cheap out.
Driving in the city stresses the cooling system a lot more than highway trips. The radiator cools down on the highway and the fan clutch isn't engaged either.
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  #15  
Old 04-16-2013, 10:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acoste View Post
Driving in the city stresses the cooling system a lot more than highway trips. The radiator cools down on the highway and the fan clutch isn't engaged either.
But you can pull over fast, and find quickly a place to park. On the hiway you might not be able to do that - check numerous posts where the OP's overheated because they couldn't pull over safely). City speed limits are also much lower than hiway speed limits - you can actually pull over and have the flashers on, etc, etc. Not on the Hiway. Towing is cheaper in the city than on the Hiway as well.

This is the point of it. Not the stress on the engine in city driving.
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  #16  
Old 04-16-2013, 11:03 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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I think Doru reference to highway driving was intended to reflect being further away from home when you break down. A long tow or flatbed ride can be costly.

Pleiades also makes a very important point: The big difference between a cooling system failure vs. any other system failure (electrical or fuel, etc.) is the consequences of the failure if you do not shut the car down immediately. Once the cooling system blows, you have seconds to shut the engine down before a catastrophic failure (head gasket) occurs. This window of opportunity is pretty small and missing it is pretty easy. Failing to do so means a repair bill in the multiple $1,000s unless you have advanced DIY skills.

While the probability of a cooling system failure may be moderate, the consequences of that failure can be HUGE. For the cost of a radiator ($150), I prefer to lower that probability as low as possible.
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  #17  
Old 04-17-2013, 11:21 AM
Dackelone Dackelone is offline
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You should replace the radiator. Its gonna fail. I would also replace your fan clutch and fan blades too. Also replace your radiator cap - the cap can go bad over time.
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  #18  
Old 04-17-2013, 05:23 PM
Guam135i Guam135i is offline
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at 61K miles I had to replace the expansion tank, and then the water pump, thermostat, tensioner and idler pulleys.
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  #19  
Old 04-17-2013, 08:28 PM
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its cheap and easy. Plus piece of mind if you go on long trips
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Old 04-19-2013, 08:39 PM
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Replace or go npg coolant so no pressure, otherwise it'll pop eventually.
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  #21  
Old 04-19-2013, 09:33 PM
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Originally Posted by ztom View Post
Replace or go npg coolant so no pressure, otherwise it'll pop eventually.
If you run NPG coolant there is still pressure so you need to buy a 1.4 bar cap. Brings the PSI to a reasonable level and takes burden off the cooling system. The main problem is the plastic when it heats and cools becomes very brittle. The pressure just helps it burst
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