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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 05-15-2013, 07:18 PM
Bennt771 Bennt771 is offline
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Question Radiator cap. lower bar?

Just read a ton of should i or shouldn't i lower the pressure on the cooling system. But no one had the results posted.
I'm looking to lowering the bar on a 2000 bmw 540i. The rad cap will let go before another blow out (upper rad hose). Has anyone done this with positive results.
I understand how temperature works in the rad, but some are saying it will lower the damage that may be done if it gets close to it's max. and something lets go.
I also read that a e30 cap will fit my car and has lower pressure threshold.

Any thoughts. Will the e30 cap even fit ?
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  #2  
Old 05-15-2013, 07:26 PM
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chiefwej chiefwej is offline
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Yep, I lowered the pressure in my system.........to ZERO.

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...77#post5217777
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Old 05-15-2013, 07:45 PM
Bennt771 Bennt771 is offline
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Your in az im in Canada..... -40 might not cut it. But it may.
Great read.
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Old 05-15-2013, 10:02 PM
JimLev JimLev is offline
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The E30 cap is a 1.4 bar cap and will fit, our E39's have 2 bar caps.
You won't be lowering the cooling system pressure, just the point that the cap releases the pressure. I did a bunch of testing, temp vs pressure on my 540, typical pressure is ~16.5 PSI when it was 75F outside and I was pushing the engine.
I'll have to do it again this summer when it's in the 90's.
I posted my results on either this forum or Bimmerforums.

Edit,
Here's the link to the pressure vs temp if you want to read it.
http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum...ystem+pressure
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Old 05-22-2013, 09:06 AM
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Studawg Studawg is offline
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So I just read your thread JimLev. Are you saying that using a lower bar radiator cap does nothing to reduce pressure in the system?
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Old 05-22-2013, 09:20 AM
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Old 05-22-2013, 10:27 AM
Dragan Dragan is offline
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Originally Posted by Studawg View Post
So I just read your thread JimLev. Are you saying that using a lower bar radiator cap does nothing to reduce pressure in the system?
Correct. By replacing the current cap with a 1.2/1.4 bar cap you are only changing the maximum allowable pressure in the cooling system, NOT the operating pressure.
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Old 05-22-2013, 11:21 AM
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Studawg Studawg is offline
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Thanks Dragan, but I dont understand the difference. Ive got the same G.A.S. cap that you have in your sig. I assume it at least lowers the maximum pressure in the expansion tank and radiator, correct? What is "operating pressure" and where is it, if that last part makes sense.
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Last edited by Studawg; 05-22-2013 at 11:22 AM.
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  #9  
Old 05-22-2013, 11:37 AM
Dragan Dragan is offline
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Not just in the expansion tank and the radiator, but the whole cooling system since the same pressure is applied throughout because it's a sealed system. I'm not exactly sure nominal operating pressure is for our cars. I'm sure they vary greatly with regards to whether you have an I6 or a V8 and may vary slightly with ambient temperature and engine load. I couldn't tell you exactly but JimLev said his operating pressure was just over 1 bar (~16.5 psi). I just like knowing that if anything happens and excess pressure builds, it'll be the cap that relieves pressure before the expansion tank or radiator crack due to excess internal pressure.
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Old 05-22-2013, 02:48 PM
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doru doru is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Studawg View Post
Thanks Dragan, but I dont understand the difference. Ive got the same G.A.S. cap that you have in your sig. I assume it at least lowers the maximum pressure in the expansion tank and radiator, correct? What is "operating pressure" and where is it, if that last part makes sense.
I will try to explain: The OEM cap vents at 2 bars, the GAS cap vents at 1.2 bars (attained at 126C - your Max operating temp should be 96C, and if you park the car right after some spirited driving, the temp can shoot up to around 110C - this for i6). Meaning the GAS cap will vent faster than the OEM cap.
In both cases, the engine is running at the same operating temperature. Advantage of the 1.2 bar: If you have some cooling issues (high heat/overheating), the GAS cap will vent much faster, saving your cooling components from rupture. The downside is: if don't pay attention to the temp gauge, you risk overheating the engine by slowly loosing the coolant through venting.
However, in a similar situation, if you have the 2 bar cap and the engine overheats the overheating temp is much higher than if you'd had the GAS cap, because it can resist at higher pressure (I am not sure at which temp the internal cooling pressure will reach 2 bar or 29 psi - it's documented) and the coolant is contained unless the pressure is higher than 2 bars, at which point it will also vent, but usually the cooling components can rupture (and the ones that didn't will be weaker now) and you could end up with a massive loss of coolant.

Every time a car overheats, there's an issue with the cooling system (air bubble, lost WP impeller, defective T-stat, etc) which needs to be addressed. The 1.2 bar cap can save your cooling system components, but if the temp gauge is not monitored (and I suggest to monitor the KTMP in the cluster - Option #7), you could end up with low coolant and all the negative consequences.
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  #11  
Old 05-22-2013, 09:42 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimLev View Post
The E30 cap is a 1.4 bar cap and will fit, our E39's have 2 bar caps.
Ah. This is interesting.
So, if I want to lower the venting point, I should first lower my coolant level, but, after that, I could buy Gary's 1.2 bar cap at, oh, I don't know, it's about $70 or so, right?
- How to modify the cooling system expansion tank 2 bar cap to 1.2 bar to vent at a lower pressure (1)

Or, if I'm ok with 1.4 bar, I could buy the E30 cap at whatever that cap costs.

Looking up what an E30 is
, I see it's the 1982 to 1991 3 series but then going to Realoem, I find no E30 listed? Huh?

There is an "F30
", but no E30.

What am I doing wrong in finding the E30 expansion tank cap part number & nominal price?


EDIT: I'm confused, because this Ebay listing shows the BMW E30 expansion tank cap at 1.4 bar:

Yet, this ebay listing shows the e24 e28 e30 caps at 1.2 bar:
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Please read the suggested threads, where the best 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; 05-22-2013 at 09:58 PM.
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  #12  
Old 05-23-2013, 05:41 AM
Dragan Dragan is offline
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I just bought the G.A.S. combo pack which includes the DISA valve repair kit and the 1.2 bar cap. The combo pack is about ~$105. But even alone, the G.A.S. 1.2 bar cap is ~$35.

Edit: To see the E30 parts catalog, under the catalog menu you must select "Archive" instead of "Current". Then you will see much older generations of BMWs.
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Last edited by Dragan; 05-23-2013 at 05:49 AM. Reason: Addressing Bluebee's inquiry
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  #13  
Old 05-23-2013, 08:07 AM
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doru doru is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Ah. This is interesting.
So, if I want to lower the venting point, I should first lower my coolant level

Stuff deleted
DON'T DO THAT. Keep the coolant level between min & Max at cold, as per the owner's manual.
You want an air pocket, but not a large one. Going too low (coolant level) increases the risk of inducing an air bubble in the cooling circuit, and then you will have a problem, and you will blame it on the low radiator cap.........
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Old 05-23-2013, 07:06 PM
Aussie528iT Aussie528iT is offline
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The reason for the 2.0 bar cap is to prevent the coolant loss after the engine is stopped, not to stop it boiling when the engine is running. Under most running conditions the operating pressure in the cooling system is at or slightly above atmospheric pressure of 1 bar. The cap pressure is the pressure above atmospheric pressure.
When the engine is stopped there is no longer any air or coolant flow through the radiator. There is still residual heat in the engine which is no longer being dissipated through the radiator, apart from a small amount of radiated heat from the block etc. The remaining residual heat just heats up the coolant and depending on the amount of coolant the coolant temperature can rise significantly. As the coolant temp increases it expands and the cooling system pressure increases until the cap releases the pressure with a consequent loss of coolant. The higher pressure cap is to prevent this happening. Think of it as the reverse of the engine warm up period.
In the past engines didn't run as hot and had large radiators and radiator caps had lower pressures, 7lb, 14lb etc so the loss of coolant problem was not as severe. As well people knew they had to check oil, water etc on a daily basis. Now its set and forget with many owners not even knowing how to open the bonnet let alone how to check oil and water. Hence the inclusion of warnings for almost everything. Its probably only after a severe attack on the hip pocket nerve that some people find out its probably a good idea to check things regularly.

Edit; If you are going to run a lower pressure cap be prepared to have to check the coolant level on an almost daily basis and don't be surpised if you have to keep adding coolant and have white stains from dried coolant all over the expansion tank etc.

Hope this helps
RonR
99 528iT M52TU

Last edited by Aussie528iT; 05-23-2013 at 07:13 PM.
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Old 05-24-2013, 10:42 AM
mbell666 mbell666 is offline
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Personally I would not change the cap on a 540i with it's 110C running temp.

Pressure in the system stops the coolant boiling. If you reduce the pressure rating of the cap, you will reduce the max temp before the coolant will boil. This will be fine while the coolant is operating in normal range, but a soon as your car starts to overheat your pressure will build, the new cap will release the pressure and your coolant will boil. Your Engine temp will go straight into the red and your risk a lot more serious overheating problem, especially as it will be pumping out its coolant as it boils. As RonR says, if the release pressure on the cap is low enough there is a risk of the coolant boiling after turning the engine off from the heat soak with out you having any idea it is happening.

With a higher pressure cap the engine temp will raise more slowly to the red give you a better chance of spotting it and acting before serious damage. Of course there is increased risk of something else in the system failing before the cap releases pressure but a low pressure cap is really building in an intentional weakness into the system. It's a lot better just to keep the cooling system in good order.
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Old 05-24-2013, 10:46 AM
Dragan Dragan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aussie528iT View Post
The reason for the 2.0 bar cap is to prevent the coolant loss after the engine is stopped, not to stop it boiling when the engine is running. Under most running conditions the operating pressure in the cooling system is at or slightly above atmospheric pressure of 1 bar. The cap pressure is the pressure above atmospheric pressure.
When the engine is stopped there is no longer any air or coolant flow through the radiator. There is still residual heat in the engine which is no longer being dissipated through the radiator, apart from a small amount of radiated heat from the block etc. The remaining residual heat just heats up the coolant and depending on the amount of coolant the coolant temperature can rise significantly. As the coolant temp increases it expands and the cooling system pressure increases until the cap releases the pressure with a consequent loss of coolant. The higher pressure cap is to prevent this happening. Think of it as the reverse of the engine warm up period.
In the past engines didn't run as hot and had large radiators and radiator caps had lower pressures, 7lb, 14lb etc so the loss of coolant problem was not as severe. As well people knew they had to check oil, water etc on a daily basis. Now its set and forget with many owners not even knowing how to open the bonnet let alone how to check oil and water. Hence the inclusion of warnings for almost everything. Its probably only after a severe attack on the hip pocket nerve that some people find out its probably a good idea to check things regularly.

Edit; If you are going to run a lower pressure cap be prepared to have to check the coolant level on an almost daily basis and don't be surpised if you have to keep adding coolant and have white stains from dried coolant all over the expansion tank etc.

Hope this helps
RonR
99 528iT M52TU
I'm pretty sure the tank wouldn't overflow even if you were using a 1.2 bar cap and you topped up the coolant to the max level when cold. I wouldn't know because my coolant level is in the somewhere in the middle between cold min and max.

The cap is a two way valve. When the pressure inside the cooling system falls below atmospheric, the cap will open and equalize the cooling system pressure to atmospheric pressure.
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  #17  
Old 05-24-2013, 01:23 PM
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johnstern johnstern is offline
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Just as info to all. I just received 1.4 expansion tank caps for my family's 3 528iTs. They fit perfect. I ordered them through FCP (17111742232B) and cost $11.95 each. Made by Behr (Hella) in Austria. Free shipping.

I'm going to keep a close eye on coolant spills after shutoff.
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Old 05-24-2013, 01:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aussie528iT View Post
The reason for the 2.0 bar cap is to prevent the coolant loss after the engine is stopped, not to stop it boiling when the engine is running. Under most running conditions the operating pressure in the cooling system is at or slightly above atmospheric pressure of 1 bar. The cap pressure is the pressure above atmospheric pressure.
When the engine is stopped there is no longer any air or coolant flow through the radiator. There is still residual heat in the engine which is no longer being dissipated through the radiator, apart from a small amount of radiated heat from the block etc. The remaining residual heat just heats up the coolant and depending on the amount of coolant the coolant temperature can rise significantly. As the coolant temp increases it expands and the cooling system pressure increases until the cap releases the pressure with a consequent loss of coolant. The higher pressure cap is to prevent this happening. Think of it as the reverse of the engine warm up period.
In the past engines didn't run as hot and had large radiators and radiator caps had lower pressures, 7lb, 14lb etc so the loss of coolant problem was not as severe. As well people knew they had to check oil, water etc on a daily basis. Now its set and forget with many owners not even knowing how to open the bonnet let alone how to check oil and water. Hence the inclusion of warnings for almost everything. Its probably only after a severe attack on the hip pocket nerve that some people find out its probably a good idea to check things regularly.

Edit; If you are going to run a lower pressure cap be prepared to have to check the coolant level on an almost daily basis and don't be surpised if you have to keep adding coolant and have white stains from dried coolant all over the expansion tank etc.

Hope this helps
RonR
99 528iT M52TU

It's been almost 3 months with the 1.2 bar cap, and no issues to report. Coolant level steady where it was beginning of March.
And I monitored the KTMP & cooling system closely. All works fine. I did a spirited driving a few times before shutting the engine off, to see certain behaviours of the cooling system. Because the engine was revved around the "red", once the engine stopped, a few seconds later, the aux fan kicks in. Also, KTMP creeps up to the 111 - 112C mark. However, there was no venting of any sorts of the 1.2 bar cap. The 1.4 bar cap should be even better than mine, and the 2 bar cap is the best. For venting. But the worst if pressure has nowhere to go.
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Old 05-24-2013, 08:00 PM
Aussie528iT Aussie528iT is offline
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Doru,
Ambient temperature has a lot to do with it as well. Your experience over 3 months of winter temps isn't going to be representative of higher summer temps. IIRC it can get pretty hot in inland Canada during the summer months. In my part of the world summer temps can reach up to 45 degC and coolant temps and pressures can be very high once the engine is stopped.
Keeping system pressures lower may help the longevity of plastic cooling system components but it comes with the risk of coolant loss and potential engine damage through loss of coolant. The plastic part problem is more initial temperature related degradation of the plastic which is then compounded by the higher system pressure and vibration.
Over the years I've replaced the radiator and the top hose which both had cracked plastic parts, the radiator top tank and the plastic piece that connects the top hose to the thermostat. The plastic parts were brown in colour rather than the original black before they cracked. The bottom hose is still original and the plastic connecting pieces are still the original black colour. It seems as though the problem is the type of plastic used in the components rather than the system pressure that is the problem. Keeping an eye on these components and changing them when they start to show a brownish tinge is the best way to avoid a failure.

Regards
RonR
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Old 05-24-2013, 11:27 PM
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doru doru is offline
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Agreed. When the black plastic starts turning brownish, the plastic is done. Also, another thing to consider is flushing out the coolant every 2 years. Apparently the coolant additives wear out and start eating at the plastic parts & the aluminum parts.
We had some high 20C (about 27-28C) the last week, and that's when I did the spirited driving experiment. 45C I am sure I won't see any time soon with any of my vehicles. Maybe never. Also GAS concluded intensive testings with the 1.2 bar cap, and the bottom line is it will vent once the coolant reaches 126C. If you live in hotter climate, the 1.4 bar cap is probably sufficient. Probably even the 1.2 bar cap is OK. The i6 is supposed to not cross over 96C assuming the cooling system is top notch. The residual heating after shutting the engine off, I don't think it will go past 115C under static conditions.
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