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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 03-09-2010, 09:00 AM
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aleks aleks is offline
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Expansion tank fun -- ARGH

So thanks to my own procrastination, I'll be out $350+ on this instead of $120.

Noticed a leak in my expansion tank this weekend, but it didn't seem drastic enough to not drive the car. It wasn't overheating and the coolant light was coming on and off intermittently. I topped it off and off to work I went, planning to order the new tank later that day and put it in over the weekend. I've never done that type of work on my car (the extent of my car repair is replacing the battery and headlight bulbs), but felt confident thanks to some awesome DIY write-ups found here. The car did fine on the drive in and out and about for lunch.

However, not so much on the way home. The temp gauge started going past its normal 12-o'clock position and towards the red. I guess 70+ degrees outside (finally a nice day) didn't help. I pulled over, refilled the coolant (after waiting 30min for the car to cool down) and made it into a parking lot. Called the tow service (thank you AAA for free towing) and it's now waiting on the new tank in the shop.

What kills me the most is not that I'll be paying more, but that I know what it really costs. $96 for the "coolant flush", really?! It's a 15min job and $15 worth of coolant.

My own fault, I know -- just had to vent.
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  #2  
Old 03-09-2010, 09:13 AM
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kunal_D kunal_D is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aleks View Post
So thanks to my own procrastination, I'll be out $350+ on this instead of $120.

Noticed a leak in my expansion tank this weekend, but it didn't seem drastic enough to not drive the car. It wasn't overheating and the coolant light was coming on and off intermittently. I topped it off and off to work I went, planning to order the new tank later that day and put it in over the weekend. I've never done that type of work on my car (the extent of my car repair is replacing the battery and headlight bulbs), but felt confident thanks to some awesome DIY write-ups found here. The car did fine on the drive in and out and about for lunch.

However, not so much on the way home. The temp gauge started going past its normal 12-o'clock position and towards the red. I guess 70+ degrees outside (finally a nice day) didn't help. I pulled over, refilled the coolant (after waiting 30min for the car to cool down) and made it into a parking lot. Called the tow service (thank you AAA for free towing) and it's now waiting on the new tank in the shop.

What kills me the most is not that I'll be paying more, but that I know what it really costs. $96 for the "coolant flush", really?! It's a 15min job and $15 worth of coolant.

My own fault, I know -- just had to vent.

Consider your self lucky that it didn't end up worse than it did. Atleast you pulled over.
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  #3  
Old 03-09-2010, 09:13 AM
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Mo.licious Mo.licious is offline
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Yikes. Sorry to hear amigo. Even the best intentions are no match for the sh!t-tastic plastic parts of the cooling system, which will go when they please. Let this be a lesson to those who still don't believe that our cooling systems are ticking time bombs after a certain mileage.

Will you be doing an overhaul while your mechanic is in there? Or are you planning on tackling the rest, and save money? How many miles are you at currently?
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Old 03-09-2010, 09:17 AM
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aleks aleks is offline
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The previous owner had already done a part of the cooling system (water pump and a few other things). The shop offered to replace my thermostat ("We recommend that when the car over-heats," he said. Um, which part of "I pulled over" didn't he get?) for another $380 (!)

I'll take stock of what was done so far and do the rest myself. I guess I lucked out on the original tank since the car is at 92K miles.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mo.licious View Post
Yikes. Sorry to hear amigo. Even the best intentions are no match for the sh!t-tastic plastic parts of the cooling system, which will go when they please. Let this be a lesson to those who still don't believe that our cooling systems are ticking time bombs after a certain mileage.

Will you be doing an overhaul while your mechanic is in there? Or are you planning on tackling the rest, and save money? How many miles are you at currently?
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  #5  
Old 03-09-2010, 09:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aleks View Post
The previous owner had already done a part of the cooling system (water pump and a few other things). The shop offered to replace my thermostat ("We recommend that when the car over-heats," he said. Um, which part of "I pulled over" didn't he get?) for another $380 (!)

I'll take stock of what was done so far and do the rest myself. I guess I lucked out on the original tank since the car is at 92K miles.
It might not be a bad idea to get the car back to your place and DIY the coolant system overhaul. It's really not that tough, and I paid $315 for all the hoses, expansion tank, thermostat and water pump from Tischer. Search for my post about it for links, and a link to the HOWTO I followed. Took me about 5 hours, going slow and steady. Could probably do it in 3, but getting that lower radiator hose off took me almost an hour on its own.
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  #6  
Old 03-10-2010, 11:33 AM
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aleks aleks is offline
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I'm getting my car back today, and just was wondering -- since this was just an expansion tank replacement and not the whole system overhaul, is the whole procedure with turning on the heat to 91F etc. necessary or is it OK if they just refill/top off the coolant? This is not a BMW-specific shop so I don't know how much they know...
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  #7  
Old 03-10-2010, 11:49 AM
jcourcoul jcourcoul is offline
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That's so the valve that controls the flow of hot coolant thru the little radiator inside the cabin and keeps your butt warm in winter opens up and all the air in there gets pushed out. Otherwise you get a huge air bubble in the system that leads to mysterious overheating and such. Air in a sealed system should eventually work its way to the expansion tank and out at the next topping up, but do you really want to wait and see for the when and if?
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  #8  
Old 03-10-2010, 04:34 PM
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aleks aleks is offline
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ARGH

Got the car back today. Here's the breakdown of the damage. Let this be a lesson to all who have NOT overhauled the cooling system yet.

Tow-in - $0.00 (AAA membership benefit)
Remove/replace radiator reserve tank - $89.10 (labor), $175.20 (parts)
Coolant flush Zerex Exteded Life G-05/HOAT 9qts - $35.55 (labor), $61.20 (parts)
Freight - $42.50
AAA member discount - $12.47
Total damage w/tax etc: $420.45

Yes, you read that right: $175 for the expansion tank, which can be had for $75 from Pelican Part, and $42.50 for freakin' shipping.
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  #9  
Old 03-11-2010, 10:31 AM
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thumper_330 thumper_330 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aleks View Post
Total damage w/tax etc: $420.45

Yes, you read that right: $175 for the expansion tank, which can be had for $75 from Pelican Part, and $42.50 for freakin' shipping.
Eep... let's hope at that price that the problem is actually fixed, now. Although I don't consider my time to be free, the $315 + 6 hours seems like a bargain because I actually learned something for my time, and actually rather enjoyed it.
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  #10  
Old 03-12-2010, 02:11 AM
mujjuman mujjuman is offline
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Verynice. I have tyo do this as well
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  #11  
Old 03-12-2010, 06:35 PM
tobandals tobandals is offline
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Thanks for the reminder

My '01 330Ci just rolled over 120K today, and I was thinking next trip to my indie should be for a cooling system overhaul. I 'm running on the original. Thanks for the reminder that I really should do this.
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  #12  
Old 03-12-2010, 06:58 PM
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Why didn't you just get it towed back to your house? (assuming you could follow the video that smolck made on how to replace the tank)
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Old 03-12-2010, 10:39 PM
msouren msouren is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aleks View Post
ARGH
Remove/replace radiator reserve tank - $89.10 (labor), $175.20 (parts)
Coolant flush Zerex Exteded Life G-05/HOAT 9qts - $35.55 (labor), $61.20 (parts)
Freight - $42.50
It really was a pain to change my expansion tank. If I had to do it again I'd probably pay someone. Although my conditions for changing the tank were not ideal, 0 degrees outside in my driveway
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Old 03-13-2010, 08:44 PM
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Originally Posted by msouren View Post
It really was a pain to change my expansion tank. If I had to do it again I'd probably pay someone. Although my conditions for changing the tank were not ideal, 0 degrees outside in my driveway
Yeah, I did it in my garage on a nice ~45 degree day. However, for the record I'll recommend that you invest in some work goggles and a face mask!

I took a 6 inch socket extension and put the socket end up against the tank proper (not the mount), then pretty much pounded on the other end with a rubber mallet. I got showered with crap from the expansion tank and stuff that was stuck in the radiator... then when I got it off I was showered with coolant. It still wasn't difficult, just a little disgusting and time consuming.

It was the lower radiator hose that killed me; I ended up having to take a chisel and break it to get it off (though I wouldn't recommend it unless you're also willing to replace your radiator! I went slow and careful but if I'd slipped I'd have damaged that, too.)
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