Cooling system overhaul tips and tricks (E39) - Page 2 - Bimmerfest - BMW Forums

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5 Series DIY
Knowledge Is Power! ~ The place for do-it-yourself threads on a variety of topics. Start a thread describing a particular job (oil change, cooling system overhaul, brakes, shocks and springs, etc.) or search for one you need help with!

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Old 05-16-2009, 09:59 AM
timmychuck timmychuck is offline
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i have a e39 528i with an inline 6 and was wondering how to bleed the cooling system i am new to the BMW world of DIY mechanics i can do most of the work with just a little instruction and help i am changing the water pump and thermostat also so any info and pics would be a great help and appreciation
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Old 06-02-2009, 02:05 PM
Beau6183 Beau6183 is offline
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Mein Auto: 2007 335xi 6-spd, Dinan 2
Another bit the dust...

I've been trying to track down a clunking noise at low rpm's, suspecting the water pump for a while. Yesterday it got really bad, so on the way home I stopped at the dealer and got a new water pump, belt, pulley, etc... (I just replaced the fan clutch and blades last october when I replaced the alternator, so I figured they're still good). After I left the dealer, I was getting onto the freeway when I noticed my temp sensor going up fast. I pulled off to the shoulder, popped the hood and saw that I had shredded my pump had seized, shredding the belt and wrapping it around the clutch. The bearings had separated and I could see rust and corrossion around the balls Anyway... towed it home and am currently enjoying a post pump beer. Thanks for all the hints and help, guys!
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Old 06-02-2009, 09:21 PM
Beau6183 Beau6183 is offline
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FYI, this might be unique on my car (cuz it isn't confirmed on RealOEM) but... those of you asking how to take the 32mm fan clutch nut off: The pulley uses two sizes of bolts to hold it on, one set is short and black, the other is gold and long. Gold @ 12 & 6, black @ 3 & 9. You can loosen the gold bolts to give you a place to use a universal fan clutch wrench (rented one at Checker for a $50 deposit, free on return). If I had been thinking, I'd have taken pictures. Beats the hell out of beating the hell out of your fan clutch nut / wp bearings with a sledge and static friction.
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Old 09-02-2009, 01:44 PM
sjjones1 sjjones1 is offline
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Mein Auto: 2003 530i AT
Cost of cooling system overhaul

Guys, anyone have an idea of what a fair price for cn90s cooling overhaul on a 2003 530i at a bmw mechanic (non dealer)? I'm trying to get an idea of how much extra I need to pay to guarantee I don't screw up my car trying it myself!
2003 530i AT, Premium Package, Sports Package, Xenon
55K New Tires
62K O&F, AF, CAFs, PSF Topup(leakage)
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Old 09-13-2009, 05:16 PM
kano2ski kano2ski is offline
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Probably $600-$800 for complete cooling system,
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Old 09-23-2009, 02:28 PM
flat5 flat5 is offline
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You sure? I would also like to know, was quoted $2k for the job by an indy. This included

Water pump
Three pulleys for belt
All hoses

Anyone else?

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Old 10-11-2009, 02:42 PM
rabi rabi is offline
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Flat5, What did you do to fix your coolling system? I did not see more posting on this. I am in similar situation with my 2002 525i. Pondering how to fix cheap, but sure not to mix up.
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Old 12-30-2009, 04:12 AM
kimokk kimokk is offline
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Is there a beltdrive layout for an '02 530iA? I couldn't find one here using the search function.
BMW '00 740il w/230,xxx miles, DIY timing chain guides complete! M60 Manifold, BDC Throttle Body, Performance gearing 3.46 LSD, Magnaflow Mufflers
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Old 12-30-2009, 01:54 PM
Wicked.- Wicked.- is offline
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Originally Posted by kimokk View Post
Is there a beltdrive layout for an '02 530iA? I couldn't find one here using the search function.
To the best of my knowledge the belt layout is the same as above which is like my 540i. BTW I just changed my water pump out and would like to thank those here who've put the time in tell us what to expect.

I had absolutely no issue getting my fan off. However mine was still intact as I had caught it early. All I did was put the 32mm wrench on the nut and then take a hammer and strike the wrench end about 7 times firmly. The pulley would turn some but the force of the strike broke it free and that was without using WD40 or the like. The fan shouldn't be torqued down at all since the direction the belt travels constantly tightens it. Another note: be careful to separate the pipes behind the pump without pulling them out from where that attach in the rear. I hear they can be a bitch to get back in.

Anyway thanks again for all the write ups folks! For my next trick I think I'm going to tackle my clutch!!!!
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Old 03-03-2010, 03:32 AM
Murphy1d Murphy1d is offline
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I had the great luck of being on the side of I-75 in Atlanta last night during a snowstorm because something went wrong with my coolant system. While driving I saw steam escaping out the back of the car. At first it seemed like just exhaust escaping in cold weather but then it increased in seconds to a cloud of steam. I quickly darted over to the side of the road and turned off the car. Then, when I checked under the hood I saw a splitting belt and a bit of melting rubber around the waterpump/fan clutch. So, I was pretty sure it was the Waterpump, but on hindsight I question the fan clutch too.

But neither bothered me as much as the dealership-recommended tow truck driver who decided it was best to DRIVE my car onto the flatbed. I was in shock, but realized it was like screaming at the chef before he's done making your meal. You could make it worse. So I drove quietly with him to the dealership biting my lip the whole time and thinking "at least he only has to coast it down off the back now." Oh no, he decided once he had it lowered that it was blocking another car, so HE STARTS IT UP AGAIN AND DRIVES ROUND THE CORNER TO A PARKING SPOT.

At this point I was furious and laid into him while the front desk assistants from the now-closed BMW service area watched. I made certain of this because I needed witnesses. He was originally rude, then 10 minutes later called to apologize. I'm a fair man, so right now I am going to describe to the service area what he did, but not yet go into detail on how he acted. But if anything else was impacted by this I'm gonna go nuts on this guy and the dealership for recommending him.
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Old 04-19-2010, 02:14 PM
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aa240sx aa240sx is offline
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Resurrecting this thread for advice specific to the waterpump. Planning on completing my overhaul with the water pump, belts and hoses in the next couple of weeks. Was curious, my indy just did the coolant flush in February 2010 and since I've never done a flush would prefer to leave that piece of the puzzle alone.

So, I know that once I pull the waterpump out, coolant will come gushing out, but can I just put the new pump in, fill and bleed the system to top off the coolant and be done with it, or will I need to do a complete system flush as called for in the DIY?
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Last edited by aa240sx; 04-19-2010 at 02:47 PM.
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Old 04-27-2010, 05:54 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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M52TU Cooling System by Aioros: (M54 is almost the same as M52TU):
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Old 05-11-2010, 08:36 AM
stija stija is offline
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When people refer to changing the "pulleys" which pulleys are they talking about exactly? Is it good practice to change the tensioner pulleys or inspect them and change them only if there is play or something wrong with them?

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Old 06-25-2010, 02:19 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Look at the layout.

A pulley is basically bearing covered with a plastic wheel on the outside.
Sometimes a pulley comes with the tensioner (such as mechanical tensioner).

Cars with Hydraulic tensioners: tensioner is sold separately from pulley.

Have a look at aioros DIY as well.
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Old 09-05-2010, 09:53 AM
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Ågent99 Ågent99 is offline
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I just overhauled my entire cooling system on my 2001 530i. It went pretty leaks thus far. For this car, I noted some differences from cn90's most excellent write-up:

Regarding the reservoir and its small hose that attaches to the opposite side of the radiator: I found attaching this hose to the reservoir first was significantly easier than any other method. I didn't have the room to attach the hose to the reservoir (with it attached to the radiator first) because the length of the hose was too short and the shroud was in the way. I used a stick to keep the shroud raised up to allow me to attach the other end of the hose to the radiator second...MUCH EASIER.

Also, pick up two "BMW" hose clamps for the reservoir hose. The ones we typically get at the auto/hardware store just can't take what I feel is the required torque to cinch these hoses down good. I went to my dealer and it took him some time to locate the screw type that was roughly the same size as the original crimp style that came from the factory. Here is the part number: 07 12 9 952 104 from the fuel filter diagram ( Yeah, they were a tad pricey at the dealer at around $3 each but worth it for no leaks, right?!

I did not bother filling the system with new fluid until everything was done and was just easier. I was able to put 11.1 quarts of fluid in relatively easily. I filled the system VERY SLOWLY through the bleeder screw hole on the upper radiator hose...agonizingly slowly. I was hoping if I did this that I wouldn't trap air. I left the reservoir cap and its bleeder screw there open the whole time and air was bubbling out as I slowly filled. After that, it was a matter of running the engine, heater on high set to 90F, and then keep checking the fluid level off and on and after a cycle or two of this over a couple hours, I had all 11.1 quarts into the system. I suggest you keep careful track of the amount so that you are sure.

Finally, attached is a pic of a cheap plumber's tool that will aid you in knocking the fan bolt loose in 10 s...along with a 1 1/4" wrench if you don't have a 32 mm one.
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2001 530i/5 (E39), Topaz Blue/Stone Green/Black (sold) *very rare interior/exterior color combo*
2005 545i/SMG (E60), ED Order, Titanium Grey/Grey (lease over)
2014 335i/Auto (F30), Mineral Grey/Black (lease over)
2017 340i/Auto (F30), ED Order, Estoril Blue/Black

Last edited by Ågent99; 09-06-2010 at 01:49 PM.
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Old 09-10-2010, 04:47 PM
mrpibb mrpibb is offline
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this site is very helpful, with the help of everybody here i can learn to appreciate my vehicle and live that much more comfortable. thanks guys
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Old 09-10-2010, 05:17 PM
ts99 ts99 is offline
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Thanks so much, i guess no one else has written a DIY on the V8. looking forward to tackling this job very soon
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Old 09-14-2010, 07:38 PM
deepcranger deepcranger is offline
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Friggen great help this form rocks i have used the info for a alt and now the cooling system thanks
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Old 10-04-2010, 04:57 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Originally Posted by Ågent99 View Post
attaching this hose to the reservoir first
This is a great hint!

Originally Posted by Ågent99 View Post
two "BMW" hose clamps for the reservoir hose... 07 12 9 952 104 from the fuel filter diagram
Another great tip.

I'll update the recommended cooling system parts list.

Originally Posted by Ågent99
cheap plumber's tool
For the life of me, I can't figure out HOW you're gonna use THAT tool ... but if it works, all the power to you. I added it to the counterhold tools thread.

PS: Someone take a picture of that tool in use so we can see how it works!

Last edited by bluebee; 10-04-2010 at 05:10 PM.
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Old 10-08-2010, 01:30 PM
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Ågent99 Ågent99 is offline
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Well, I don't plan to visit the cooling system again for at least another 100k miles but I'll try to use words to describe how to use the strainer wrench to hold the pulley while wrenching on it.

Simply hook the notched end of the tool on a nut on the pulley and the swing arm gets hooked on the opposite nut. That is can now hold the pulley in place and knock the nut loose with a wrench.

This plumber's tool is made for removing large diameter locking rings (i.e. large plastic "nuts") on sink drains and what not. Some of those are quite large in diameter and the swing arm makes the tool universal for many different sizes.
2001 530i/5 (E39), Topaz Blue/Stone Green/Black (sold) *very rare interior/exterior color combo*
2005 545i/SMG (E60), ED Order, Titanium Grey/Grey (lease over)
2014 335i/Auto (F30), Mineral Grey/Black (lease over)
2017 340i/Auto (F30), ED Order, Estoril Blue/Black
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Old 01-03-2011, 10:07 PM
Westlotorn Westlotorn is offline
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I did my full cooling system overhaul a couple weeks ago. 2002 530i Automatic, 75,000 miles. Tips, I agree with everyone here, do it all at once. Use the best parts and rest easy after.
My radiator split causing this need.
I did not have a tool for the fan clutch but taking a long 15mm box end wrench I put the box end over one of the four 10mm fan pulley mounting bolts and rotated the wrench till the shaft contacted the hub center.
This worked as a lever to hold the water pump firmly in place while I hit the long 1 1/4 wrench with a rubber mallet to losen the fan clutch. One hard whack had it loose. ( 1 1/4 worked and fit perfectly, I did not have a 32mm open end ) It spun off fine. I did use anti-seize on the new water pump hub so the clutch would not be an issue should I ever have to revisit.
I read the posts about quickly installing the fan clutch back on the water pump. I tried once to see how hard it might be and it went on with no issue or strain. I was prepared for using the string trick but did not need it. I had the radiator out for replacement so I had extra room.

I found an oil leak behind the Oil filter housing and pulled it for a clean and new gasket. No more leaks!
Pulled the PS tank hose and replaced the clamp, no more leak.
Found a rats nest in my Air Filter box, removed it, that should help air flow.

Two hoses on the 530i were hard to find.
Part number WO133-1792583 Engine to Heater Control Valve 31.94
Part number WO133-1792584 Heater core to Radiator Tank return line 35.94
My 530i has the 3 heater inlet/outlet ports on the drivers side of the engine compartment side by side. Most photo's I saw only show 2 with the third hose bib on the pass side. 540i design maybe?

These are in addition to all the Hoses included in most of the kits.
Radiator to Thermostat, upper and lower.
Exp tank to the aux pump
Exp tank to Heater core, this is the first half, a second goes actually to the core.
Two more heater hoses, Valve to heater core Left and Right
Aux pump to engine

Last edited by Westlotorn; 01-03-2011 at 10:15 PM.
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Old 06-05-2011, 08:26 PM
jordan16j jordan16j is offline
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Mein Auto: 2001 BMW 525i 124k
I successfully completed most of the overhault (skipped rollers and hoses) about 2 weeks ago and haven't had any issues since. For the record I am NOT a DIY expert and prior to owning my BMW (bought 3 months ago) I had never even changed oil on a car. That said, despite being intimidated at first, this was really not all that bad. I completed my overhaul in 3 nights working maybe 2 hours at a time and being very very careful about everything.

Some notes for future DIY-ers include:
1. Fan clutch nut on my 2001 525i apparently had a more difficult seize than many others. As a result the BMW 1703 tool was extremely useful and much more successful than the screwdriver method in the DIY. My seize was so hard that I actually had to resort to setting up the 1703 and bracing it against a maglite in the engine bay and striking the 32mm wrench clockwise with a rubber hammer a few times. After at least an hour of fussing with it this was the only way I was able to break the seize. I bought my 1703 on ebay for about $30 but neglected to check if Autozone and the like had it available for loan.

2. Rethreading said fan clutch was somewhat frustrating. You have to set it on the nut "just so" where it won't fall off at all, spin it clockwise, and hope that it doesn't slip. I bet this took at least 20 minutes.

3. I happen to have mechanical tensioners on my bimmer and it is important to note that these required a T50 TORX screw rather than an 8mm Hex screw as noted in the guide. I very strongly recommend anyone with mechanical tensioners, who are not replacing them, to buy a T50 bit or a set of them instead of the Torx keys. It would be extremely difficult to release the tension using a key. I bought a large set of Torx bits for about $10 at Autozone.

4. Water pumps, at least at the time I did my overhaul, seem to have gone up considerably in price. Even the OEM one is over $100 everywhere I checked and I've heard bad things about the Graf. I picked up a Bosch 96101 on for only about $50 and feel really good about it. Compared to the OEM Behr part it was almost identical save for the *****colored (brass?) impeller. It came with the gasket, too, so no need to order a new one. I couldn't find much info on if this unit was good or not but I optimistically took it as a good sign since enthusiasts regularly complain about the subpar parts. Even if it fails in the near future, at 1/3 of the price of most OEM-quality models, I think I'll be satisfied with it.

5. As far as the coolant goes, I would recommend just buying BMW coolant. I bought the yellow Prestone extended life coolant for CHEAP ($12-5 MIR!!!) and ended up returning it after doing a lot of research. There just isn't a definitive answer from other enthusiasts on a suitable alternative for BMW coolant and I decided not to risk it. The coolant in my car at the time was also not OEM since it was a bright green color (Peak maybe?) and that also spurred my decision to only use the real thing. $21.95 per gallon at the local dealer (I used about 1.25 gallons myself). A lot more spendy than the practically free Prestone but a cheap investment for peace of mind.

A couple of great resources that also helped me out during the overhaul include:

1. Pelican Parts 3 series cooling system DIY.
Can't find the link for this one but it was for an e39 or e346. Almost identical to procedure on e39 and includes some really good pictures.

Great video for cooling system bleeding which is something I was paranoid about doing incorrectly. I followed this procedure exactly and had 0 problems with air bubbles, etc.
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Old 06-20-2011, 07:32 AM
bsholt21 bsholt21 is offline
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Mein Auto: 1997 528i, 2004 WRX Wagon
I just did this overhaul over the weekend to my wife's '97 528i. Thank you all so much for the information! Here are a few things I ran into and the alternative steps I had to take:

* The cheapest place I could find all of the parts in the correct brands and free shipping was here:
* I ordered this wrench (due to the low price) from Amazon for the clutch nut removal:
Unfortunately, the wrench was too wide to fit without sticking. The fix...using a bench grinder, I ground off about 1-2mm off of each side of the open end. It fits perfectly now.
* I wasn't able to find a clutch holding tool for rent/loan from an auto parts vendor, so I ended up making my own. I took a very old steel square edge and drilled two holes for the bolt heads. After this, I grinded again with the wheel to create the arch between the holes for the center of the water pump shaft. This tool also came in quite handy when removing the bolts from the water pump pulley. I'll try to add a picture of the tool, if I can ever remember.
* Our 528i has a mechanical tensioner for the water pump/alt/PS pump belt, and there is a hydraulic one for the A/C belt. The hydraulic tensioner pulley did not want to break loose. At first I wondered if maybe I'd done something wrong. After reading, they just like to be stubborn. Thus, a nice long persuasion pipe on the end of my ratchet did the trick.

Just thought I'd throw out this info, in case it might help someone.


Last edited by bsholt21; 06-20-2011 at 07:43 AM.
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Old 08-13-2011, 08:28 AM
mad12.1964 mad12.1964 is offline
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Originally Posted by abbondanza23 View Post
I totally agree, I just changed my Water Pump, hoses and belts on my 2002 540i, and although nothing adressed my specific year/model, the links on this forum (and some others as well) were an incredible help in preparing for the work in advance of the parts arriving (big thanks to cn90 for the groundwork and writeups!) The ideas really translated for me, also Mike for key tips! Basically did a $700 dealer job for $160 in parts! Bled the air a few times and 2 days later, drove the car from Florida to New York without a drip, the needle didnt budge (of course I was running the computer test program #7 for an exact temperature readout...110 degrees celsius the whole 1000 miles! If anyone needs any tips on the procedure feel free to post and I will respond[ (PS went with the Graf metal impeller)
Does any one have detailed instruction (possibly with pictures) to remove the water pump from V8 540i? I have removed most of the "stuff" (belts, fan, shroud, etc) and just need more details on removing and installing new water pump. Thanks.
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Old 11-27-2011, 02:32 PM
Thehobe Thehobe is offline
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Mein Auto: 2000 BMW540i
E39 Water Pump Removal reccomendations

Go buy or build a tool to hold the pump pulley wheel AND get a 32mm wrench (thin). Both are available on Ebay for about $45 including shipping. I built the pulley holding tool many years ago for my 1970 BMW2002 and have been using it ever since. My tool just broke on my 540i so I had to rebuild it by drilling two 7/16" holes 38mm apart and a C-shaped cutout between the two bolt holes whose circular diameter is 38mm as well. I bought a piece of iron bar about 2' long and 3/16" thick with a width of about 1". Alternatively, you can take out 1 bolt on the pulley and bolt on a tool with a 6mm (1/4") hole at one end of the same bar dimensions given. Do not expect to be able to undo the 32mm bolt with your normal human stregth alone; you need to use an impact technique to loosen the bolt. This is done using a hammer on the wrench to loosen the bolt while holding the homemade tool (or purchased one). REMEMBER THAT THE BOLT LOOSENS IN THE CLOCKWISE DIRECTION ON THE WATER PUMP PULLEY! Sometimes the bolt has been on way too tight and it took a lot of hammering to get it off. My 540i bolt was way overtightened.
Next. on the California and I assume other US cars, there is an exaust air pipe that goes around the entire front of the engine. A bolt on each side of this air pipe lets it be taken off prior to removing the water pump. The bolts are just an inch or two behind the front plane of the engine on either side of the engine. There are two small o-ring type gaskets on this pipe that must be present upon re-installation.
Before pulling off the water pump, make sure the two metal pipes exiting the rear of the water pump stay in their positions and are not pulled free from their rear connections. I used a channel lock wrench to attempt to hold the smaller pipe in but was unsuccessful. The larger pipe stayed in. I would recommend using two hose clamps mounted on the pipes to provide a place for a screwdriver to be able to keep them back while the water pump is extracted from it's position.
Now, I am waiting for parts...
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