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E46 M3 (2001-2006)

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  #1  
Old 05-05-2008, 09:19 AM
Zappo Zappo is offline
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Coolant Flush Interval Change with MY2004 Question

Hello all .... I bought a new MY2002 E46 M3 6-Speed back in Nov 2001 (with a Sept 2001 Build-Date) that now has 18,000 miles with all the services and service bulletins performed on time as BMW recommended at my local BMW dealer.

Does anyone know exactly what BMW changed between MY2003 and MY2004 that allowed them to modify their recommended coolant flush interval from 4 years to Lifetime on the E46 M3 (and all their other models)? My dealer was not certain, other than that is what the Engineers in Germany told them to do.

I'm wondering that if it was simply a change in coolant formulation, maybe I should consider stretching out my next coolant flush to maybe 5 or 6 years based on the way my car is used and stored. I'm currently only putting about 2000 easy miles a year on this M3 and it spends 90% of it's time in a garage that never drops below 40F. The maximum lifetime RPM according to a recent dealer computer link read-out is only 7215 RPM and I think I did that only once or twice .... I usually shift around 3500 - 4500 RPM the way I drive. My location on the West Coast of the U.S. also rarely freezes below 32F and I never drive the car during rainy weather or the occassional light snow dusting that we get every few years, nor do I drive further than 15 or 20 miles from home (I have other cars for that kind of stuff).

I had the coolant flushed on-schedule at my dealer at 4 years in Nov 2005 plus had the brake fluid flushed every 2 years in Nov 2003, Nov 2005 and again recently in Nov 2007. The car has no track time and still has 85% of the original brake pads left plus about 60% of the original Pilot Sports' tread left ..... I do not drive it hard (probably not a good thing in retrospect for this type of car). The computer still shows 7500 miles remaining until the Level 1 inspection here at 18,000 miles. However, the Oil and Filter has been changed annually at the dealer regardless of mileage.

Based on my type of usage, I'm seriously considering going to a 3 year brake flush interval and a 6 year coolant flush interval regardless of what the BMW Engineers recommend (now that my car is past warranty). I too have been a Mechanical Engineer for over 30 years (heavy industrial engines) and have put some common-sense engineering thought into my decision here.

Does anyone care to offer any suggestions or counter-points that I may have overlooked in my analysis of coolant and brake fluid flush intervals? Any comments or feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

Last edited by Zappo; 05-05-2008 at 09:28 AM.
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  #2  
Old 05-05-2008, 09:33 AM
Ryan M Ryan M is offline
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Coolant intervals are recommended every 3 years, not sure why you would stretch that to 6. It's cheap and easy to do.
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  #3  
Old 05-05-2008, 09:36 AM
Zappo Zappo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan M View Post
Coolant intervals are recommended every 3 years, not sure why you would stretch that to 6. It's cheap and easy to do.
My owner's manual says 4 years on the M3. The 2004 and up BMWs do not list an interval.

Where do you get 3 years as the recommended period (per SAE or what)?
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Old 05-05-2008, 09:45 AM
Ryan M Ryan M is offline
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Yes. Some are even less, like my car for example. Every 2 years or 24,000 miles. But if your owners manual says 4 then why not do it at 4? 6 years is a long time to leave coolant in a car. I could only imagine the scaling and corrosion that would be going on inside that cooling system.
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  #5  
Old 05-05-2008, 01:00 PM
Zappo Zappo is offline
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Originally Posted by Ryan M View Post
Yes. Some are even less, like my car for example. Every 2 years or 24,000 miles. But if your owners manual says 4 then why not do it at 4? 6 years is a long time to leave coolant in a car. I could only imagine the scaling and corrosion that would be going on inside that cooling system.
Okay, thanks!
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  #6  
Old 05-05-2008, 03:38 PM
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MMME30W MMME30W is offline
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Ryan - Actually he's right, my Bentley for the E46 does say 4 years for 2003 MY, but "lifetime" for 2004 and 2005. Wierd.

I would guess it's more "accounting" and less "engineering".

I'd just flush the coolant every four years at a minimum and call it quits.
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  #7  
Old 05-05-2008, 04:08 PM
Zappo Zappo is offline
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Originally Posted by wingspan View Post
Ryan - Actually he's right, my Bentley for the E46 does say 4 years for 2003 MY, but "lifetime" for 2004 and 2005. Wierd.

I would guess it's more "accounting" and less "engineering".
+1 .... I agree

Corporate was probably looking to enhance the bottom-line by dropping the one coolant flush included with the no-cost 4 year service plan. I look for them to go to 3 year brake flush intervals in the near future to also save another $100 per vehicle ... just watch!
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  #8  
Old 05-05-2008, 07:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zappo View Post
+1 .... I agree

Corporate was probably looking to enhance the bottom-line by dropping the one coolant flush included with the no-cost 4 year service plan. I look for them to go to 3 year brake flush intervals in the near future to also save another $100 per vehicle ... just watch!
Agreed. I firmly believe the suits in accounting ran the numbers and concluded, for the US market at least, that lifetime fill of coolant, transmission and differential fluids is "lifetime" of the typical lease car, or approximately 3-4 years. Heck, I even heard the differentials on the E9x actually do not even have drain/fill plugs - apparently it's considered a consumable item.
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  #9  
Old 05-05-2008, 07:33 PM
Ryan M Ryan M is offline
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I understand the 4 years thing. I mean, if it's in the manual then I'm sure BMW knows what they're saying. The only thing I was recommending against was doing it after 6 years. That seems a little extreme.
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  #10  
Old 05-06-2008, 12:51 AM
Zappo Zappo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan M View Post
I understand the 4 years thing. I mean, if it's in the manual then I'm sure BMW knows what they're saying. The only thing I was recommending against was doing it after 6 years. That seems a little extreme.
Actually most of the large industrial engines I helped design over the last 30 years have about a 2X assumption factor regarding owner diligence in following maintenance schedules.

If we were asked to spec a 4 year interval for a certain fluid, we actual engineered the design to go 8 years assuming the customer would probably go 7 or 8 years in the oil fields or refineries (think of it as a safety factor) .... As a practicing registered Mechanical Engineer, I've been working on stuff like that for over 30 years .... it's nothing new that the corporate bean counters rule the roost (even in Germany). If we felt that a corporate request was an unreasonable spec, we'd simply over-engineer the design or over spec the required fluids and we all slept well at night. No one at corp ever complained because they usually were clueless about our overdesign strategy when they tried to push things too far.

All very boring stuff, I know, but that's why I believe I'll be fine with a 3/6 year combo regarding 3 year brake fluid flushes using BMW brake fluid and 6 year Blue Extended Life BMW coolant flushes (especially considering the mild service factor of my particular E46 M3).

That's my professional technical opinion, FWIW. However, if the car was regularly tracked hard or even a daily driver I'd probably stick with a 2/4 year combo per the owner's manual.

Last edited by Zappo; 05-06-2008 at 01:26 AM.
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  #11  
Old 05-06-2008, 11:32 AM
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Early M3s were 3 years, they then switched to 4 years. I was not aware that they switched to "lifetime".
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  #12  
Old 05-22-2008, 06:14 PM
ff1600 ff1600 is offline
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Well, I have a 2006 M3 and on page 3 of the Service and Warranty Information book is the following:

"The engine coolant has a lifetime rating and does not need to be changed."

I guess when the engine explodes after overheating from lack of maintenance then the "lifetime" has been reached.....

It has been stated before - BMW included maintenance means no maintenance will be performed.
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  #13  
Old 05-22-2008, 07:48 PM
Zappo Zappo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ff1600 View Post
Well, I have a 2006 M3 and on page 3 of the Service and Warranty Information book is the following:

"The engine coolant has a lifetime rating and does not need to be changed."

I guess when the engine explodes after overheating from lack of maintenance then the "lifetime" has been reached.....

It has been stated before - BMW included maintenance means no maintenance will be performed.
As I wrote earlier, I still believe that I'll be fine moving to a 3/6 year combo from here forward for my 2002 M3 w/18,000 miles ..... i.e. going to 3 years for brake fluid flushes using BMW brake fluid and going to 6 years using Blue Extended Life BMW coolant considering that the car has never been tracked or abused and always garaged (and presently only driven 30 miles every 2 weeks just for exercise).

Service to-date at BMW dealer:

Coolant was flushed at 4 years
Brake fluid was flushed at 2 years and again at 4 years

Last edited by Zappo; 05-22-2008 at 07:54 PM.
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  #14  
Old 05-27-2008, 07:13 AM
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Brake fluid should be changed at least every 2 years, unless you use one of the fluids good for extended use due to either low moisture absorbtion (Castrol GT LMA) or superior wet performance (Castrol SRF).

I have no problem with 4 year coolant change interval. 6 years is too long for me to be comfortable.
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  #15  
Old 06-25-2008, 08:32 PM
zcoupe zcoupe is offline
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"Long-term antifreeze/coolants utilize Organic Acid Technology (OAT). OAT-type antifreeze/coolant solutions use organic acid salts in place of the inorganic corrosion inhibitor additives found in traditional short-term antifreeze/coolants. OAT-type corrosion inhibitors are slower acting, last longer and provide excellent long-term corrosion protection for various coolant system aluminum and metal components, along with no required change interval.

BMW's Long-Term Antifreeze/Coolant (82 14 1 467 704) is a Hybrid OAT (HOAT) solution, since it also has added silicates to provide quick-acting protection for aluminum surfaces. Silicates help repair surface erosion caused by cavitation in the water pump.

BMW's Long-Term Antifreeze/Coolant does not contain nitrites or phosphates and has been formulated to prevent excessive silicate gel precipitation, significantly reducing the possibility of harmful deposit formation. " but putting lifetime antifreeze does not change your coolant flush interval. it still has to be changes every 4 years.
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  #16  
Old 02-14-2011, 12:40 PM
behramm5 behramm5 is offline
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hi has any body changed the coolant n can explain with pics if possible or specefy the drain plug on the block and a drain plug on expansion tank
thanks
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  #17  
Old 02-14-2011, 12:42 PM
behramm5 behramm5 is offline
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hi can someone specefy the drain plug on a e 46 for a coolant flush on the engine block and expansion tank or any other way to drain out old coolant competely
thanks
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