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  #1  
Old 11-30-2003, 10:18 AM
ipollard ipollard is offline
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Question BMW Coolant Alternative

I'm due to flush the coolant in my 2000 328Ci and my local dealer (service manager & one of the techs) says that they use both the BMW brand coolant and Peak (in the blue container). I also noticed several jugs of Peak in the service bay area.

From my research, the blue coolant is NAP (nitrates, amines, phosphate)free, whereas the orange long-life stuff is NAPS (... silicate) free.

Since they didn't have any BMW brand coolant in stock, I picked up a gallon of Peak (in the blue jug) at K-Mart. I just opened it, expecting it to be blue in color, (similar to the OEM coolant) only to discover that it's green like the ageless, "regular" stuff.

Since I'm replacing and not topping off the coolant, I've heard it said that it's ok to use either green, blue or orange coolant however I'm a little leery about using a different color coolant to the OEM stuff.

Do you guys know which specific major brands of coolant there are that make the NAP free (blue) formulation?

Thx!

Last edited by ipollard; 11-30-2003 at 04:16 PM.
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  #2  
Old 12-01-2003, 04:54 AM
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Interesting. WHere did you find the info about the color coding?

I always thought it was a branding thing.
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  #3  
Old 12-01-2003, 06:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pinecone
Interesting. WHere did you find the info about the color coding?

I always thought it was a branding thing.
Agreed. I have never heard anything about color coding of coolants.

Is there something to this or is it just speculation?
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Old 12-01-2003, 06:56 AM
ipollard ipollard is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LmtdSlip
Agreed. I have never heard anything about color coding of coolants.

Is there something to this or is it just speculation?

Check out the following URL that I found in the Roadfly E46 archives:

http://bimmer.roadfly.org/bmw/forums...postid=1497168

In searching for "G-11" on Google, I found several hits for VW/Audis, that apparently, recently moved from G-11 to G-12 (lifetime) coolant because of pitted heads, water pumps, etc.
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  #5  
Old 12-01-2003, 08:50 AM
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After a quick Google I didnt see any information that indicated that there is a standard for cooloant colors based on thier contents or composition.

For example: AMSOIL Antifreeze and Engine Coolant the correct choice for personal health, for the safety of pets and wildlife, for superb vehicle engine protection, and for planetary ecology. It's distinctive purple color distinguishes it from hazardous green-dyed ethylene glycol products.

In this link Audi used the color Red to denote a special coolant fluid for the early A8s (toyota has done this as well). Also some good info on BMW oil.

From the Audi bulletin: Contamination of G12 coolant with
other colored coolants is identifiable by
discoloration that creates a brown or
purple color. Such a mixture also causes
a foamy deposit in the expansion tank
and radiator.
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Old 12-01-2003, 09:02 AM
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Anyone have access to SAE documents?


Cooling Systems Standards Committee

A study of extension of engine coolant life using low phosphate organic acid inhibitors
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  #7  
Old 12-01-2003, 10:47 AM
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I think there is a coolant color coding standard in EU, but not in the US. Just about every one marketed in the US that I've seen is either plain green ethylene glycol or orange propylene glycol (extended drain). I've started hearing about some clas-action stuff WRT the extended drain coolant, specifically as it pertains to OE GM applications (DexCool) where the stuff precipitates badly, clogging the cooling systems and blwoing motors.
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  #8  
Old 12-01-2003, 11:40 AM
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Thumbs up

After calling 5 dealers in the Washington, DC area and getting varying answers, "Use only the BMW brand coolant"; "Any quality brand coolant, except for the extended-life orange stuff"; "We also use Advance Coolant" (it's made by the same manufacturer that makes the Peak brand); "You can use Zerex G-05, which also meets Mercedes specs", I decided to call an independent BMW service shop.

According to the tech at the independent shop, BMW coolant is formulated to the G48 spec and it's not something that you can readily find. Apparently they buy pallets worth of the OEM BMW coolant. He recommended the BMW stuff, which I'll end up buying since it's not worth the hassle of saving a few bucks.

At this point, purely for academic reasons, the exercise has now morphed into a quest to find a manufacturer that makes coolant to the BMW (G48) specification, since I'm sure BMW simply OEMs the stuff.

I ran across this technical bulletin (see attached file) from Valvoline's web site, dated 6/18/2003, stating that they make a G48 spec coolant called Zerex G 48.

Interestingly enough, the bulletin specifically states that Zerex G48 is "BMW Approved" so with that in mind, I'm going to continue researching this one and I'll post my findings.
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  #9  
Old 12-01-2003, 11:48 AM
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Has anyone found what BMW's internal speci 'code' is for the coolant? The 'G' stuff seems to be some sort of more standardized thing, but I assume BMW has something equivalent to the LL specs for their oil recommendations.
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  #10  
Old 12-01-2003, 12:00 PM
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OK, I think I've answered my own question. It appears that G48 spec is equivalent to BMW N 600 69.0. One product I found that is available in the US and specifically meets that BMW spec is Motul Inugel Expert, which is a premix product. I don't have a price but since it's premixed and appears to be sold by the liter, it might just be cheaper to use the OE stuff.
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  #11  
Old 12-01-2003, 01:23 PM
ipollard ipollard is offline
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Well, I went over to get a jug of the OEM cooler and happened to run into my service advisor (whom I trust - and not because he drives an E36 M3) said that it's absolutely OK to use the non-BMW coolant.

In fact, if you remember my initial post, they had recommended Peak (in the blue jug) as a suitable alternative. In fact, they use it quite frequently.

His comment was "If it'll make you feel better to use the BMW coolant, I won't stop you but the Peak coolant works just as well and costs a third of the price."

Armed with this bit of advice, I've decided to take the plunge and use the 50/50 solution of Peak/distilled water that I mixed yesterday.

When I asked him who OEMs their coolant to BMW, he said that it's most probably Pentosin, who makes automotive fluids for German cars.

I did a preliminary search on Pentosin fluids and came across the following:

http://www.pentosin.de/eng/products/...ntifreeze.html

Note the product specifically states that it's nitrite, amine and phosphate free.

Looks like we're a bit closer to determining the OEM coolant supplier, or at least an alternative. The problem though, as Kaz indicated, is that even if you can get your hands on the stuff, you'll be lucky to get it for the same price as the coolant from the dealer.
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Old 12-01-2003, 01:28 PM
bmw325 bmw325 is offline
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This is by far the most informative and detailed discussion of the "coolant issue" that I've seen to date. Having this specific information is a lot more useful than just telling people to "only use BMW coolant". Now, we have specific reasons as to why you should (because if you don't, you'll have to go out of your way to find a G48 coolant in the US). Basically, it sounds like the coolants that you'd be able to readily find in US auto parts stores are NOT what you want to be using. I've always wondered what, specifically, was important about the BMW coolant-- and now I know. Thanks again for all of you research, and for posting it here.

Although the dealer said Peak is ok-- I can't find anything that says that their coolant conforms to the G48 spec-- so I'd feel much better about just using BMW OEM. As far as the SA saying that it "works just as well"-- its hard to know what that means. I'm sure it will do its job as a coolant-- but it may cause longer term issues that most owners wouldn't be able to equate w/ what brand of coolant they used (like an early water pump failure or a pitted head). Given the 4 year warranty period, I bet its rare for a dealer to see the longer term results of coolant choice.
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  #13  
Old 12-01-2003, 01:41 PM
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The historic sensitivity to failure of some BMW cooling system components (water pump impellers, housings, thermostats, radiator necks) is what's keeping me interested in this specific issue. I'm glad we've been able to deduce some solid info on this matter.
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  #14  
Old 12-01-2003, 01:55 PM
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Found some more info: take a look at this VW-related link:
http://www.fennelfamily.com/gti-vr6/...ant.html#mark6

search on the page for "G48". It looks like its actually made by BASF, under the brand-name "Glysantin". The g48 product is called "Protect plus":
https://worldaccount.basf.com/wa/AP/...rand/glysantin
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  #15  
Old 12-01-2003, 02:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robg
Found some more info: take a look at this VW-related link:
http://www.fennelfamily.com/gti-vr6/...ant.html#mark6
I love the last 2 posts. Sounds like the same runaround we get with BMW.
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  #16  
Old 12-01-2003, 03:17 PM
ipollard ipollard is offline
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More fuel to the fire ...

http://www.mail-archive.com/bmwuucdi.../msg04215.html

This post dated in 2001 from the UUC Digest contains a letter from the president of the Rocky Mountain CCA chapter that explores the correlation between coolant pH levels and the life expectancy - or lack thereof - of BMW's plastic cooling system components.

Makes you wonder if Mercedes Benz isn't on to something. After reading this, I'm not adding the Peak stuff - or, for that matter, the BMW coolant until I can find out more about this. A day or 2 more won't kill but if need be I'll break down and go to the MB dealer if their stuff is better. Assuming, of course, it doesn't cost an arm and a leg!
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  #17  
Old 12-01-2003, 04:20 PM
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Hmm, the info on that thread doesn't specify what the MB spec is that's currently used is. I see at least 3 specs: 325.0, 325.2, 325.3. The aforementioned Motul product meets 325.0 and 325.2, whereas they have another product that doesn't meet the BMW spec but meets MB 325.3.
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Old 12-01-2003, 04:42 PM
ipollard ipollard is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaz
Hmm, the info on that thread doesn't specify what the MB spec is that's currently used is. I see at least 3 specs: 325.0, 325.2, 325.3. The aforementioned Motul product meets 325.0 and 325.2, whereas they have another product that doesn't meet the BMW spec but meets MB 325.3.

Kaz, where did you find the info re: the MB specs?
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Old 12-01-2003, 04:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ipollard
Kaz, where did you find the info re: the MB specs?
On some Motul product specs I came across on some Russian Motul distributor's site. I can't read Russian but I can read 'BMW N 600 69.0' etc

I'm going to check the TIS tonight and see what it says about coolant specs.
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Old 12-01-2003, 05:08 PM
ipollard ipollard is offline
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I'm still searching through the MB enthusiast sites and so far I've found a link between MB coolant and Zerex G-05 coolant, which is certified to be compatible with MB engines.

BTW, in case you hadn't already discovered, Volvo and Saab also use G48 spec coolant.

I guess we'll resume this tomorrow.
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Old 12-01-2003, 09:10 PM
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Knowing BMW's marketing ties with Castrol I checked what kind of anti-freeze Castrol sells and of course there is none in the US but Europe gets Antifreeze NF that meets both BMW N 600 69.0 and MB 325.0, it's ethylene glycol based and it's green. Funny thing is that the bottle is exactly the same as Pentosin.

I think you can use any coolant that is nitrite, amine and phosphate free and stay away from extended drain stuff but because the cost is reasonable I would stick with BMW OEM one.
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Old 12-01-2003, 09:27 PM
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To add another dimension to this-- Now that BMW has switched to "lifetime coolant"-- anyone know what coolant that is? My guess is that its a red-colored "G12" coolant as per the Audi/VW sites. Or did they simply decide that the same G48 coolant was "okay" for the life of the car? I have a pre-lifetime coolant 325i, so this is just an academic question for me.
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Old 12-01-2003, 11:13 PM
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This is getting curioser and curioser, as they say.

I have a list of recommended brand names (all euro stuff of course) out of a year-old TIS.

Aral Antifreeze Extra
BP Anti-Frost X 2270-A
BP Napgel C 2270-1
Castrol Anti-Freeze NF
Caltex CX Engine Coolant
DEA Kuhlerfrostschutz
Elf Antifreeze Special
Fina Termidor
Glyco Star
Glyco Shell
Glysantin Protect Plus
Gusofrost LV 505
Mobil Frostschutz 600
Havoline AFC BD04
Total Multiprotect
Veedol Antifreeze NF
OMV Kuhlerfroschutz

It appears VW's G11 and G12 specs are different 'G's than the G used in G48. BASF Protect Plus appears to be G48, though I've seen some references that they are different products. This is equivalent to VW G11/TL774C and is spec'd for BMW 600 69.0. Spot-checking some of the other products on that list also show 600 69.0.

VW G12/TL774D is a silicate-free spec equivalent to G30/33/34 (latter two being color differences) that is what's often called 'lifetime fluid'. This is said to be more compatible with aluminum components over time, thus 'lifetime.'(really 4-5 yrs vs 2-3).

If BMW recommends silicated fluid, stick to it and make sure it gets changed. Whatever happens, do NOT mix silicate and silicate-free coolants. There appears to be a lot of talk in the VW community about VW's G11 to G12 changeover and improper changeovers causing disasterous problems, especially on VR6 motors, which run notoriously hot.

It appears that switching to silicate-free will not cause any problems given the old stuff is completely gone, and the car is never topped off with silicate (i.e. dealer) fluid.
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Old 12-02-2003, 09:00 AM
bmw325 bmw325 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaz
This is getting curioser and curioser, as they say.

I have a list of recommended brand names (all euro stuff of course) out of a year-old TIS.

Aral Antifreeze Extra
BP Anti-Frost X 2270-A
BP Napgel C 2270-1
Castrol Anti-Freeze NF
Caltex CX Engine Coolant
DEA Kuhlerfrostschutz
Elf Antifreeze Special
Fina Termidor
Glyco Star
Glyco Shell
Glysantin Protect Plus
Gusofrost LV 505
Mobil Frostschutz 600
Havoline AFC BD04
Total Multiprotect
Veedol Antifreeze NF
OMV Kuhlerfroschutz

It appears VW's G11 and G12 specs are different 'G's than the G used in G48. BASF Protect Plus appears to be G48, though I've seen some references that they are different products. This is equivalent to VW G11/TL774C and is spec'd for BMW 600 69.0. Spot-checking some of the other products on that list also show 600 69.0.

VW G12/TL774D is a silicate-free spec equivalent to G30/33/34 (latter two being color differences) that is what's often called 'lifetime fluid'. This is said to be more compatible with aluminum components over time, thus 'lifetime.'(really 4-5 yrs vs 2-3).

If BMW recommends silicated fluid, stick to it and make sure it gets changed. Whatever happens, do NOT mix silicate and silicate-free coolants. There appears to be a lot of talk in the VW community about VW's G11 to G12 changeover and improper changeovers causing disasterous problems, especially on VR6 motors, which run notoriously hot.

It appears that switching to silicate-free will not cause any problems given the old stuff is completely gone, and the car is never topped off with silicate (i.e. dealer) fluid.

They're not necessarily "different Gs". If you read some of the VW VR6 threads, one guy has a pretty funny tale about going to a dealer to buy coolant for his 96 VR6 which was originally filled with "G11". The dealer tells him there's no such thing, and that he needs "G48". He asks why its printed in the owner's manual and on the coolant cap-- the SA shrugs. He calls VW customer service, who tells him that they've never heard of G11 and to ONLY use G48. And we think BMW is bad... No one seems to know for certain if there is a difference between G11 and G48-- and if G11 is still available. I guess we have it a lot easier, since BMW seems to have always recommende G48, and that's what they sell. I do wonder if the newer "lifetime coolant" BMWs come w/ G12. Although its clear that the Vr6 probably has some design issues, these VW threads really make it clear that choosing the correct coolant can make a big difference.
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Old 12-02-2003, 04:13 PM
ipollard ipollard is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaz
---- ---
If BMW recommends silicated fluid, stick to it and make sure it gets changed. Whatever happens, do NOT mix silicate and silicate-free coolants. There appears to be a lot of talk in the VW community about VW's G11 to G12 changeover and improper changeovers causing disasterous problems, especially on VR6 motors, which run notoriously hot.

It appears that switching to silicate-free will not cause any problems given the old stuff is completely gone, and the car is never topped off with silicate (i.e. dealer) fluid.
Taking the above into account, coupled with the assumption (using basic chemistry as the rationale) that a lower pH coolant/water mix provides the greatest longevity for the plastic components of our BMW cooling systems, is there a lower pH coolant (relative to G48) that is nitrite and amine free? (The phosphate issue being moot for the US market.)

Comparing the pH value from the Zerex G48 data sheet against those of the newer organic acid technology (OAT) coolants (G12, Peak Extended Life, DexCool, etc.) as well as the HOAT (hybrid OAT) coolants, (Zerex G-05, which is MB approved) at best, the differences are marginal.

Considering that most of us, even without the benefit of this thread, will flush our coolant every 2 years or sooner, it's easier to refill using the OEM G48 coolant. Or make sure that you flush all of the old G48 coolant before filling with G12 coolant.
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