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E46 (1999 - 2006)
The fourth generation 3 Series (E46 chassis) was introduced in 1999 and set the standard for engineering and performance during it's years of production including being named to Car & Driver's 10 best list every one of those years! ! -- View the E46 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 05-31-2009, 05:23 PM
McCreary McCreary is offline
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Tips for Coolant Overhaul - Pics Included

I meant to do this probably three weeks ago, but I forgot, someone bumped the thread where I said I would do it, and I remembered.

First off, holy crap, it took me forever and a day to do this, but I've never worked on a car other than changing bulbs or tires before, so I was very nervous about messing anything up, and I was hoping to God it came out right the first time or my wife was going to kill me.

Anyhow, two things took me about an hour each, and accounted for nearly 100% of the overall frustration. The coolant expansion tank was stuck, and the water pump pulley was stuck. I'll go over what I did for both, and then I'll toss out some random tips.

Coolant Expansion Tank


First things first, the tank sits on a plastic ledge that attaches to the backside of the radiator in an L shape extending from the top of the radiator down to the bottom, there is a large round ring that fits very nicely inside the red area, and is a few millimeters deep. The ledge and ring come from the top of the picture down, because otherwise the ledge would block the level sensor, this will be obvious once you are underneath the car looking at the tank in place. The purple portion connects to hose that I think goes to the engine block (if someone with more intimate knowledge on this could confirm/deny, I would appreciate it), and the yellow is for the level sensor. Not shown in the picture is the little plastic L-shaped tab that fits into a slot on the plastic piece that has the coolant expansion tank ledge on it. This connection is 'loose' and once everything is free from the tank, you can wiggle it around a bit, and you'll be able to see what I mean about this little tab.

Okay, as I just mentioned, the yellow part is where the level sensor goes, if you look closely you can see that there are two openings for tangs, and that one is bigger than the other. Mine seemed to be stuck, and I had to turn it hard to get it to loosen, but I'm just pointing this out because I have the picture handy.

The blue parts are what I spent a TON of time hammering on. I used a hammer and a long socket extension, placed the extension on the blue areas, and wailed away. After awhile, it seemed like I wasn't making any progress. I used my finger to gauge my progress and after another 5 minutes of whacking away, it had not moved. Ugh. I tried using a jack to raise the expansion tank, again with the long socket extension, but it seemed to just be pushing the tank and the plastic seat up, and I was afraid the seat would break before the tank came free. I also tried pulling up from the top of the tank, and pushing down with the other hand on the seat. This seemed to work, but again, seemed is the key word, the finger measurement indicated essentially zero movement. Now I'm really tired and really annoyed. I realized that everything I had done since the tank stopped moving upward was to cause the plastic ledge to move with the tank. So I decided to use a flat head screwdriver on the red portion and hammer on that directly. I moved the screwdriver around as I hammered, and after about 5 total hits in different locations on the ring, it came free. It was easy.

EDIT: This post has some more nice pictures.


Water Pump Pulley


So, this one was tough too. I used penetrating oil in the holes and used a small pair of pliers to hit the face of the pulley, in blue. This wasn't working out, so I tried to gently pry the pulley off using the engine block and a screwdriver. I was very gently, increasing pressure slowly and turning the pulley at the same time to try and break it loose. However, after awhile, the pressure was too much, and I chipped the yellow portion off. D'oh. I then used a hammer on the red portion (again, gently), and after about 5 minutes of gentle tapping and turning and using the penetrating oil, the pulley came off. I was very close to just breaking the damn pulley out of anger, though. I was very very frustrated.

Other Tips:
Pulling the hoses off was easy with the exception of the upper radiator hose where it connects to the coolant expansion tank. I used all my strength to get it off, there were no tricks involved other than wiggling as I pulled. Putting the hoses back on was simple, again, the upper radiator hose's double connection just needed all my strength to get it back on. The lower radiator hose was much harder to put back in than take off, and I had to get underneath the car and use my upper back on the ground as leverage to push the hose back onto the radiator. Loosening and removing the belts was easy for me, I used a long breaker bar from Sears and a torx 50 bit I bought at Advance Auto Parts with a 3/8 to 1/2inch adapter. Be gentle with it, though, I would imagine just letting either idler pulley snap back would be very bad.

I followed the instructions at http://www.bmw330ci.net/maintenance/completecoolant.php

Last edited by McCreary; 06-05-2009 at 07:44 PM.
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  #2  
Old 05-31-2009, 08:59 PM
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iskoos iskoos is offline
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Thanks. You are now a true fester by keeping your promise
I removed everything and now I am stuck at this expansion tank. I will try using hammer and see if it is going to get me anywhere.
At this point, I am just hoping not to break the tranny t-stat.
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  #3  
Old 05-31-2009, 09:08 PM
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Thank you for the tips
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  #4  
Old 05-31-2009, 09:09 PM
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Bucknekkid Bucknekkid is offline
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I have seen many on this forum complaining about the difficulty in removing the radiator hoses...I have yet to do mine but I purchased this pick from Harbor Frieght just in case...
Does anyone who has struggled with hose replacement think this tool would be useful ?...

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...emnumber=96572
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  #5  
Old 05-31-2009, 09:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bucknekkid View Post
I have seen many on this forum complaining about the difficulty in removing the radiator hoses...I have yet to do mine but I purchased this pick from Harbor Frieght just in case...
Does anyone who has struggled with hose replacement think this tool would be useful ?...

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...emnumber=96572
This kind of feels like for rubber hoses that use hoseclamps. BMW hoses have plastic ends with wire clips. So I don't think this tool will provide much help.
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  #6  
Old 06-02-2009, 01:48 PM
e46_platform e46_platform is offline
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i've done my cooling system overhaul several weeks back...

i followed the same DIY as OP did (http://www.bmw330ci.net/maintenance/completecoolant.php), which is listed in the wiki as well...


1. for the water pump pulley:
i don't understand why OP didn't follow what the DIY says.
it's pretty easy. just use two screws to screw in evenly, and that'll pull the water pump pulley out easily.

2. the expansion tank is the most difficult part for me.
i followed the DIY and took the hammering approach. but that wasn't gonna work for me.
i found a post that commented on this particular part of the DIY and suggested a smarter approach (http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...2&postcount=12), but i don't really understand how to apply a breaker there.
but i guess what i did was similar... i just inserted a flatbed screw driver in between the red and purple circle shown in OP's first photo, and used it as a leverage to pop out the expansion tank from the plastic seat that was extended from the radiator. (insert the screw driver from the passenger side of your car to the driver's side, and use your left hand to pull the handle of your screw driver up). this would separate the tank and the seat easily.

3. that DIY says the expansion tank was the 2nd most difficult part, and the most difficult part was the removing the lower hose from the radiator.
i found it much easier if you use a hair blower to heat up that part of the material first....
it's the same theory as pouring hot water on a bottle cap which you couldn't open. material will expand and consequently be loosened when heated up.
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Old 06-02-2009, 02:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bucknekkid View Post
.
Does anyone who has struggled with hose replacement think this tool would be useful ?...
Not for removing the hoses, but for picking your teeth.

The problem is the plastic parts of the hoses will break if you pry on them with something that concentrates all the force into such a small area like the tip of that pick. You really shouldn't have a problem getting them off, a big flat head screwdriver does wonders.
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Old 06-02-2009, 02:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smolck View Post
Not for removing the hoses, but for picking your teeth.

Are the gaps between the teeth of folks who live in Bama, really that big ?...

The problem is the plastic parts of the hoses will break if you pry on them with something that concentrates all the force into such a small area like the tip of that pick. You really shouldn't have a problem getting them off, a big flat head screwdriver does wonders.

If I'm looking to replace the hoses anyway, why should I be concerned about breaking them with the Bama toothpick, or am I missing something again ?...
Couldn't help myself !...
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  #9  
Old 06-02-2009, 02:26 PM
DM3MD DM3MD is offline
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OP...I'm a bit late on this one but want to congrats you on your baby! Sorry, completely forgot to check back with you! I hope you and your wife and child are doing well!

Oh, and nice job on the coolant overhaul
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  #10  
Old 06-02-2009, 02:32 PM
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Couldn't help myself !...
:
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  #11  
Old 06-02-2009, 04:22 PM
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MMME30W MMME30W is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bucknekkid View Post
I have seen many on this forum complaining about the difficulty in removing the radiator hoses...I have yet to do mine but I purchased this pick from Harbor Frieght just in case...
Does anyone who has struggled with hose replacement think this tool would be useful ?...

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...emnumber=96572
In a word, no.

The E46 hoses have a plastic fitted connector on each end, so there isn't really a case where you'd need to slide the pick in under the rubber of the hose and circle it around the fitting after removing the hose clamp.

What we really need is a special purpose hose tool which grasps the hose fitting in one plane of action, and then (at 90 degrees out of phase) has a set of jaws that spreads the fitting female end from the male end...

EDIT - sorry, just read iskoos post, +1
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  #12  
Old 06-02-2009, 08:45 PM
McCreary McCreary is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by e46_platform View Post
1. for the water pump pulley:
i don't understand why OP didn't follow what the DIY says.
it's pretty easy. just use two screws to screw in evenly, and that'll pull the water pump pulley out easily.
The two screws are for the water pump itself, and that was easy. The pulley is attached to the pump, and that is what was stuck. I think you are turned around a bit.
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Old 06-02-2009, 08:50 PM
McCreary McCreary is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DM3MD View Post
OP...I'm a bit late on this one but want to congrats you on your baby! Sorry, completely forgot to check back with you! I hope you and your wife and child are doing well!

Oh, and nice job on the coolant overhaul
Thanks, we're doing well, and Abby is getting baptized on Sunday, so the family is in town. Exciting times all round.
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  #14  
Old 06-02-2009, 11:33 PM
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3LOU5 3LOU5 is offline
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Here are my tips.

FWIW.
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  #15  
Old 06-03-2009, 01:29 AM
e46_platform e46_platform is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McCreary View Post
The two screws are for the water pump itself, and that was easy. The pulley is attached to the pump, and that is what was stuck. I think you are turned around a bit.
oh... sorry.
you are absolutely right. i messed my memory up already after a few weeks

now i recall... that my water pump pulley came out quite easily after putting on some WD40 (i didn't even try to pull it out before applying some WD40)... i guess i just had some nice luck at that point.
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  #16  
Old 06-03-2009, 01:30 AM
e46_platform e46_platform is offline
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helpful notes, mate
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  #17  
Old 06-05-2009, 07:47 PM
McCreary McCreary is offline
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I just updated my original post to link to iskoos post that has more detail on the coolant expansion tank and the bracket that holds it in place.
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  #18  
Old 07-29-2009, 01:16 PM
rjh325 rjh325 is offline
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Thanks for the additional pix. I plan to do mine this weekend but am a little concerned about not replacing the "bracket" that others have mentioned.
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=693386
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Old 07-29-2009, 01:22 PM
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Thanks! You saved us alot of time and heartache.
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  #20  
Old 07-29-2009, 01:42 PM
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McCreary, if you haven't already, can you add this to the wiki?

Thanks!
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  #21  
Old 07-29-2009, 08:21 PM
McCreary McCreary is offline
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McCreary, if you haven't already, can you add this to the wiki?

Thanks!
No problem, it should be in the wiki now.

http://www.bimmerfest.com/wiki/index...sion_Tank_Help
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  #22  
Old 07-30-2009, 01:09 AM
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still leaks

I recently replaced all hoses, expansion tank & thermostat. I still have a leak out of the expansion tank. It is leaking from the outlet that dose'nt have a retaining clip. It just seams to press on there with nothing to hold it in place. Any sugestions?

Thanks,
awac
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  #23  
Old 07-30-2009, 07:14 AM
3beemers 3beemers is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by e46_platform View Post
i've done my cooling system overhaul several weeks back...

i followed the same DIY as OP did (http://www.bmw330ci.net/maintenance/completecoolant.php), which is listed in the wiki as well...


1. for the water pump pulley:
i don't understand why OP didn't follow what the DIY says.
it's pretty easy. just use two screws to screw in evenly, and that'll pull the water pump pulley out easily.

2. the expansion tank is the most difficult part for me.
i followed the DIY and took the hammering approach. but that wasn't gonna work for me.
i found a post that commented on this particular part of the DIY and suggested a smarter approach (http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...2&postcount=12), but i don't really understand how to apply a breaker there.
but i guess what i did was similar... i just inserted a flatbed screw driver in between the red and purple circle shown in OP's first photo, and used it as a leverage to pop out the expansion tank from the plastic seat that was extended from the radiator. (insert the screw driver from the passenger side of your car to the driver's side, and use your left hand to pull the handle of your screw driver up). this would separate the tank and the seat easily.

3. that DIY says the expansion tank was the 2nd most difficult part, and the most difficult part was the removing the lower hose from the radiator.
i found it much easier if you use a hair blower to heat up that part of the material first....
it's the same theory as pouring hot water on a bottle cap which you couldn't open. material will expand and consequently be loosened when heated up.
I used the breaker: inserted from the passenger side, behind the tank, underneath where there's a connection for (i believe attached to another hose toward the driver) and the end of the breaker on top of the ledge (part of the fender), pull it up.....sweeeeet!

When I have the chance, I will take a picture (note: this is for a 2001 330i).

Regards
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  #24  
Old 07-30-2009, 08:41 AM
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delirium330 delirium330 is offline
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hoses always suck when you have limited room to work. i replaced my fuel filter and all hoses/clamps - biggest pain in the ass ever getting the old ones off when you're on your back with about 5 inches of room to work.
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  #25  
Old 07-30-2009, 01:43 PM
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Whatever you do, DO NOT TWIST the hoses trying to get them off. You'll shear off the plastic lug that seats the hose to the inlets/outlets.
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