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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 02-11-2015, 01:44 PM
crazy4trains crazy4trains is offline
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Requesting opinions and experiences on cooling system overhaul

2002 530i
Factory sport suspension
88,000 miles
Water pump, alternator belt tensioner and idler pulley were recently replaced

No, I'm not asking if I need to do a cooling overhaul. That much I know I need to do as my radiator is leaking from the driver side endcap and I do not want to risk a catastrophic failure. The question is how deep do I go as my general maintenance philosophy is “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

I know I need the radiator and upper/lower radiator hoses that are highlighted in yellow in the image. I also plan to replace the expansion tank but I have heard the horror stories about the OEM branded tanks. What is my best source and manufacturer for the expansion tank? I have asked my usual online supplier (getbmwparts.com) for the country of manufacture of their current radiator/expansion tank stock but haven’t heard back yet.

I also plan to replace the thermostat with a Wahler. I have read that a lower temperature thermostat can be purchased. Is this possible? I may consider doing this to reduce temperature, and the resulting pressure in the cooling system. I wouldn’t go too low as I understand that could foul up fuel economy etc, but some recommendations and sources would be great.

At the car’s age/mileage do I need to replace the plastic water pipe and heater pipe? These are the items highlighted in green in the image. If I do, I will go ahead and remove the intake manifold to do this. I have heard these deteriorate. Are any special tools needed to change these out or any special tricks?

If I do remove the intake manifold I will likely replace the CCV with a dealer sourced cold weather version. No aftermarket on this part. Is the CCV replacement necessary? I currently (to my best knowledge) am not having any CCV issues.

Should I go ahead and replace the fan clutch and/or fan blades as I have heard the stories of fan clutch failure leading to fan destruction? If so, what brand and from what source? I'm electrically stupid so I will likely stay with the mechanical fan. For now, the only way I would go with an electric fan is if I went with a full-blown Zionsville setup. I am considering that, but IMO it is too pricey for a car of this age.

Should I replace the water hoses shown in red and blue on the image? I don’t typically see these as recommended for replacement but looks like it would be easy while I had everything else out. Also, is the aux. water pump, circled in red, a necessary maintenance replacement item?

I will replace the A/C belt tensioner also while I have the fan shroud out. Any other recommendations are welcome.

If you feel this thread is redundant with all the other cooling overhaul threads out there just ignore. I’m really wanting to hear everybody’s thoughts and opinions.

Whew, this got long!

Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 02-11-2015, 03:24 PM
gmak2012 gmak2012 is offline
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Depends on how many miles are on the water pump and how noisy your belts, pulleys and tensioner wheels are in the front. My are making noise so they're about due to be changed.

I'm about to embark on this and I've ordered all new pulleys / wheels - went aluminum on the PS and WP pulleys. Also putting in new hydraulic tensioners - just the 'shock absorber' piece, not the whole thing. New fan and clutch - but my clutch is pretty much gone - I can spin the fan backwards when the engine is running. New fan and fan shroud (the old one looks like someone chopped a section off of it to get the fan and clutch out without removing the shroud - or it could be damage after a fan exploded).

Doing upper and lower hose (the in and out on the thermostat cover), thermostat cover and thermostat. As a matter of principle, since it hasn't been done in 10 years, doing the WP as well. Radiator seems fine (shrug).

Bottom line is do what you feel comfortable doing and what is within budget. Just remember that you will be going back in sooner or later for the other parts. The noises bother me, so I'm taking care of it all now - and hoping that I don't have to do the AC compressor for a while(starting to hear the death rattle from time to time in the summer).
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  #3  
Old 02-11-2015, 03:29 PM
Burning2nd Burning2nd is online now
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the cooling system failure thing is over rated,,

not as far as its not true, but the failures are 9 times outta 10, a person who doesnt open there hood on the weekend, people with broken hood latches things of that nature,
what you should do is replace anything that you dont want to have to get back in to later down the road, Im @ 200k on both of my cars with unknown milagle on the radiators on 2 of 3, ... I take it as it comes..

also.. If your a type of person who is driving along with the radio cranking.. texting not having a clue whats going on under your hood.. just replace it all..

If you like me and you are in tune with your car or truck.. then you know what you need to do when you need to do it.. what you can and cant let go for now.. and the order of importence

I would not run a lower temp stat.. your car is designed to use the one its designed to use.. (use that one)

fan clutch and fan should be replaced.. Its simple.. and if the fan goes.. you will loose more then just teh fan and hood, (i stock clutches @ home) there aint nothing wrong with asking.. This community from time to time gets a stick up there......... about repeat questions.. for one I think the serch feature of this site sucks.. it doesnt work.. it gives you a bunch of stuff you dont need..

Ask away my friend
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  #4  
Old 02-11-2015, 05:51 PM
crazy4trains crazy4trains is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Burning2nd View Post
the cooling system failure thing is over rated,,

not as far as its not true, but the failures are 9 times outta 10, a person who doesnt open there hood on the weekend, people with broken hood latches things of that nature,
what you should do is replace anything that you dont want to have to get back in to later down the road, Im @ 200k on both of my cars with unknown milagle on the radiators on 2 of 3, ... I take it as it comes..

also.. If your a type of person who is driving along with the radio cranking.. texting not having a clue whats going on under your hood.. just replace it all..

If you like me and you are in tune with your car or truck.. then you know what you need to do when you need to do it.. what you can and cant let go for now.. and the order of importence

I would not run a lower temp stat.. your car is designed to use the one its designed to use.. (use that one)

fan clutch and fan should be replaced.. Its simple.. and if the fan goes.. you will loose more then just teh fan and hood, (i stock clutches @ home) there aint nothing wrong with asking.. This community from time to time gets a stick up there......... about repeat questions.. for one I think the serch feature of this site sucks.. it doesnt work.. it gives you a bunch of stuff you dont need..

Ask away my friend
Yea, I'm leaning toward new fan and clutch.

What are your thoughts on the water pipe (11537502525) and the heater inlet pipe (11531705210)?
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  #5  
Old 02-11-2015, 05:54 PM
joekitch joekitch is offline
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sort of related question, once i get an e39 i'm converting to a zionsville kit along with a cold-running modded thermostat and a metal water pump...
are there any beefier more reliable coolant hoses and connections as well? or are those forever rubber
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  #6  
Old 02-11-2015, 06:06 PM
Burning2nd Burning2nd is online now
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no your not... This type of though processe will end up putting you on the curb.. You dont need a zionzville Kit, and a cold running t stat isnt going to keep things from breaking, and the metal water pump is already metal, The plastic thing your thinking about is on the m52's

money is the limit though,

Simply maintance, Observataion and learning.. IF your real about getting a E39, you should get your bently manual now.. and start studying
consider technical service manual as light reading,
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  #7  
Old 02-11-2015, 06:29 PM
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TheHockeytowner TheHockeytowner is offline
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^Yes, yes! To Burning2nd you listen!

I've never read about E39 heater hoses failing, but I am, admittedly, not very well-read on cooling system problems.

I replaced the drive belt, tensioner, pulleys, upper and lower radiator hoses, WP, thermostat, and fan clutch after the front bearing on my WP literally exploded (and took the WP pulley with it). I didn't replace my radiator because it wasn't cracked, I just flushed it out with water for awhile.
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Old 02-11-2015, 06:38 PM
joekitch joekitch is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Burning2nd View Post
no your not... This type of though processe will end up putting you on the curb.. You dont need a zionzville Kit, and a cold running t stat isnt going to keep things from breaking, and the metal water pump is already metal, The plastic thing your thinking about is on the m52's

money is the limit though,

Simply maintance, Observataion and learning.. IF your real about getting a E39, you should get your bently manual now.. and start studying
consider technical service manual as light reading,
exceeeeeppppptttt
-aluminum expansion tank basically never leaks
-aluminum radiator basically never leaks
-electric fan (two stage) cools better and can cool at a lower speed if need be, also much less space taken up at the front of the engine so its easier to work in there
-aluminum thermostat housing so fewer if any leaks
-colder thermostat opens the tstat sooner and gets more coolant flowing, which when combined with the electric fan, keeps things really cool even in traffic on a hot day. doesn't really impact gas mileage either
-meant a metal impeller on the water pump so it doesnt explode
-also evans coolant and a low pressure cap. doesnt increase local boiling and it lowers the pressure ceiling of the system so it'll outgas earlier instead of getting really pressurized in there and pushing on seals.

and yes i've been studying, enough to start compiling a list of modifications to seriously increase long term reliability on what were obviously poorly designed cost-cutting components.
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  #9  
Old 02-12-2015, 12:06 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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- What is the recommended parts list for a complete cooling system overhaul (1)
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See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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  #10  
Old 02-12-2015, 05:19 AM
Burning2nd Burning2nd is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joekitch View Post
exceeeeeppppptttt
-aluminum expansion tank basically never leaks
-aluminum radiator basically never leaks
-electric fan (two stage) cools better and can cool at a lower speed if need be, also much less space taken up at the front of the engine so its easier to work in there
-aluminum thermostat housing so fewer if any leaks
-colder thermostat opens the tstat sooner and gets more coolant flowing, which when combined with the electric fan, keeps things really cool even in traffic on a hot day. doesn't really impact gas mileage either
-meant a metal impeller on the water pump so it doesnt explode
-also evans coolant and a low pressure cap. doesnt increase local boiling and it lowers the pressure ceiling of the system so it'll outgas earlier instead of getting really pressurized in there and pushing on seals.

and yes i've been studying, enough to start compiling a list of modifications to seriously increase long term reliability on what were obviously poorly designed cost-cutting components.
well yes and no, 6160 will leak eventually, but it will be a much longer time,
the v8's already have a 6160 stat houseing
colder temps dont make better flow, it doesn't create as much Pressure in the system

evans is good stuff.. but its kindda unnecessary, There are a few members here that have this.. and even some of them still say it was a waste of money,

and keep in mind like fabricating something if you have something break and then you make it stronger the weakest point will then be more prone to fail,

what im saying is you make the front of your cooling system indestructible and then your heater hose's and head gaskets become the weak point, (exc exc)

Im not a advocate for OEM stuff.. but im speaking from many years of own several bmw's

the oem stuff works fine,
(again not speaking about bmw brand)
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  #11  
Old 02-12-2015, 05:26 AM
gmak2012 gmak2012 is offline
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Also, Aluminium thermostat housing doesn't seem to have very many high quality options. Lots of stories of 'dremel' being used to make a good fit. Remember that 88 thermostat versus 92 thermostat may open sooner - but that doesn't mean that the temperature stays lower. The engine will heat up as the engine will and that heat will get transferred to the coolant. The thermostat doesn't determine the ultimate operating temp of the engine, just how soon the coolant starts flowing.
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Old 02-12-2015, 05:46 AM
joekitch joekitch is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmak2012 View Post
Also, Aluminium thermostat housing doesn't seem to have very many high quality options. Lots of stories of 'dremel' being used to make a good fit. Remember that 88 thermostat versus 92 thermostat may open sooner - but that doesn't mean that the temperature stays lower. The engine will heat up as the engine will and that heat will get transferred to the coolant. The thermostat doesn't determine the ultimate operating temp of the engine, just how soon the coolant starts flowing.
indeed, hence the aluminum radiator (which cools a little better than the stock radiator) and the electric fan (which, at its highest setting, cools markedly better than the stock fan).
and with the lower pressure cap, that becomes the "weak point" long before any hoses or the headgasket start experiencing pressure, because the system CANNOT pressurize...

in any case, i dont plan to be stuck in rush hour traffic in phoenix any time soon
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  #13  
Old 02-12-2015, 05:51 AM
gmak2012 gmak2012 is offline
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I've looked for silicon hoses

Quote:
Originally Posted by joekitch View Post
sort of related question, once i get an e39 i'm converting to a zionsville kit along with a cold-running modded thermostat and a metal water pump...
are there any beefier more reliable coolant hoses and connections as well? or are those forever rubber
Seems that for the E39, the only option is to build a silicone hose from parts glued together to get the right shape. They are around in abundance for E36 and E46 - but nada for the E39 that I have found.

Some good lined and reinforced silicone graded for radiators will last as long as the car, IMHO.
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Old 02-12-2015, 06:43 AM
five40 five40 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheHockeytowner View Post
^Yes, yes! To Burning2nd you listen!

I've never read about E39 heater hoses failing, but I am, admittedly, not very well-read on cooling system problems.

I replaced the drive belt, tensioner, pulleys, upper and lower radiator hoses, WP, thermostat, and fan clutch after the front bearing on my WP literally exploded (and took the WP pulley with it). I didn't replace my radiator because it wasn't cracked, I just flushed it out with water for awhile.


The PO of my car had done a partial overhaul of the cooling system (expansion tank, all cooling hoses, thermostat) but had not replaced the radiator, or the water pump. Anyway, my point is, about 2 months after I bought the car, a heater hose in the back blew a pinhole leak and was a real pain in the a$$ till I fixed it. Anyway, they can and do give out.
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Old 02-12-2015, 06:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joekitch View Post
exceeeeeppppptttt
-aluminum expansion tank basically never leaks
-aluminum radiator basically never leaks
-electric fan (two stage) cools better and can cool at a lower speed if need be, also much less space taken up at the front of the engine so its easier to work in there
-aluminum thermostat housing so fewer if any leaks
-colder thermostat opens the tstat sooner and gets more coolant flowing, which when combined with the electric fan, keeps things really cool even in traffic on a hot day. doesn't really impact gas mileage either
-meant a metal impeller on the water pump so it doesnt explode
-also evans coolant and a low pressure cap. doesnt increase local boiling and it lowers the pressure ceiling of the system so it'll outgas earlier instead of getting really pressurized in there and pushing on seals.

and yes i've been studying, enough to start compiling a list of modifications to seriously increase long term reliability on what were obviously poorly designed cost-cutting components.
Aluminum expansion tank... now that's one I've never heard.
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Old 02-12-2015, 07:42 AM
Burning2nd Burning2nd is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joekitch View Post

in any case, i dont plan to be stuck in rush hour traffic in phoenix any time soon
people plan to get stuck in traffic??
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  #17  
Old 02-12-2015, 07:59 AM
joekitch joekitch is offline
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Aluminum expansion tank... now that's one I've never heard.
yup
one of their super duty cooling kits costs $1,100. after buying a good thermostat and a metal impeller water pump, its more like $1500.
considering what a massive pain point the cooling system is, id say its worth it
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Old 02-12-2015, 08:05 AM
joekitch joekitch is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmak2012 View Post
Seems that for the E39, the only option is to build a silicone hose from parts glued together to get the right shape. They are around in abundance for E36 and E46 - but nada for the E39 that I have found.

Some good lined and reinforced silicone graded for radiators will last as long as the car, IMHO.
hmm,thanks for that, ill have to look into it


Quote:
Originally Posted by five40
The PO of my car had done a partial overhaul of the cooling system (expansion tank, all cooling hoses, thermostat) but had not replaced the radiator, or the water pump. Anyway, my point is, about 2 months after I bought the car, a heater hose in the back blew a pinhole leak and was a real pain in the a$$ till I fixed it. Anyway, they can and do give out.
yeah, thats why you do a full overhaul all at once, as well as the lower pressure cap, so excess pressure has somewhere to go (the cap) that is not hoses or seals or whatever
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Last edited by joekitch; 02-12-2015 at 08:11 AM.
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Old 02-13-2015, 06:54 AM
crazy4trains crazy4trains is offline
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Parts have been ordered. I decided to not go too deep and just change pretty much everything at the front of the engine. I will not replace the plastic pipes under the intake manifold or the two water hoses coming from the bottom of the expansion tank. I also decided to not get into the CCV. If I run into problems with either of these in the future then I will tackle both at that time.

Most parts were ordered from getbmwparts.com, a few from Advance Auto Parts and the fan clutch from Amazon. I will post a detailed list in the future once I am sure I have everything I need.

The expansion tank is supposed to have been manufactured in Germany so hopefully it will be reliable.
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Old 02-13-2015, 12:13 PM
five40 five40 is offline
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hmm,thanks for that, ill have to look into it



yeah, thats why you do a full overhaul all at once, as well as the lower pressure cap, so excess pressure has somewhere to go (the cap) that is not hoses or seals or whatever
I guess it will say on the cap what bar it is? I definitely should check that. That's a much better place for it to blow.
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Old 02-14-2015, 12:38 AM
joekitch joekitch is offline
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I guess it will say on the cap what bar it is? I definitely should check that. That's a much better place for it to blow.
yes i believe the thing to do is get a radiator cap from an e34, and take the rubber seal off of it too, this basically guarantees your cooling system is under almost no pressure at any given time (excess pressure just vents) and dramatically increases the life of your seals
however you'll probably need to add coolant more often in very hot climates since you'll be bleeding it off. i'd rather add coolant occasionally than have to replace stuff all the time
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Old 02-14-2015, 11:15 AM
crazy4trains crazy4trains is offline
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I've been doing some more searching on here and haven't found a definitive answer to this question:

How are the two water hoses that go from the bottom of the expansion tank attached to the tank? Is the same type of connection as the upper and lower radiator hose used or will whatever clamps etc. I find there have to be demolished to remove the hoses? I don't plan on replacing these hoses so I want to ensure I don't damage them when I remove them. Typically when I demolish something, something else gets demolished too.

Also, I ordered new upper and lower radiator hoses from a dealer. Will those come with new O-rings? I have read conflicting information on this.

Thanks!!!
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Old 02-14-2015, 11:40 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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The 2 hoses feeding the reservoir, they generally last some 150K+.

A general guideline for E39 cooling system, once you know the average lifespan of each component, then you can make an educated guess as to what to do...

- OEM WP: 100K-180K, after that the bearing goes out, or the seal leaks.

- Fan Clutch: 120K-200K. In rare instances, it explodes and the fan blade slices through everything, incl. the hood. But this is rare.

- Fan Blade: this is plastic, so after some 150K, the plastic is brittle and small pieces fall off here and there.

- Thermostat: in my experience, the metal prong starts breaking at 70K-80K or so. No the engine will not overheat but the engine runs cold.

- Tstat housing is plastic, after 120K, it is a guess.

- The stock rad usually lasts some 140K-180K. Then the upper plastic neck starts to crack, especially cars from the South and idling in traffic all the time.

- The 2 rad hoses: usually last some 150K, after that it is a guess.

- All heater hoses are unreliable after 160K. So whether you drive a Honda, Volvo or BMW, after this mileage, start thinking heater hoses, all of them. So Volvo people lose an engine because the heater hose, when bursting, dumps coolant very quickly.

- The reservoir: 110K-180K. If you replace it, use BMW brand only. And throw the old reservoir in the trunk.
Replace the cap at the same time.

- The plastic pipe under the manifold, wait until 150K or so, or when you remove the manifold for CCV job (although you can replace the CCV w/o removing the manifold).

Anyway, tons of info in forum...
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Old 02-14-2015, 08:11 PM
crazy4trains crazy4trains is offline
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Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
The 2 hoses feeding the reservoir, they generally last some 150K+.

A general guideline for E39 cooling system, once you know the average lifespan of each component, then you can make an educated guess as to what to do...

- OEM WP: 100K-180K, after that the bearing goes out, or the seal leaks.

- Fan Clutch: 120K-200K. In rare instances, it explodes and the fan blade slices through everything, incl. the hood. But this is rare.

- Fan Blade: this is plastic, so after some 150K, the plastic is brittle and small pieces fall off here and there.

- Thermostat: in my experience, the metal prong starts breaking at 70K-80K or so. No the engine will not overheat but the engine runs cold.

- Tstat housing is plastic, after 120K, it is a guess.

- The stock rad usually lasts some 140K-180K. Then the upper plastic neck starts to crack, especially cars from the South and idling in traffic all the time.

- The 2 rad hoses: usually last some 150K, after that it is a guess.

- All heater hoses are unreliable after 160K. So whether you drive a Honda, Volvo or BMW, after this mileage, start thinking heater hoses, all of them. So Volvo people lose an engine because the heater hose, when bursting, dumps coolant very quickly.

- The reservoir: 110K-180K. If you replace it, use BMW brand only. And throw the old reservoir in the trunk.
Replace the cap at the same time.

- The plastic pipe under the manifold, wait until 150K or so, or when you remove the manifold for CCV job (although you can replace the CCV w/o removing the manifold).

Anyway, tons of info in forum...
That is essentially my plan. The water pump was replaced a couple of months ago. I plan to replace the fan clutch, fan blades, thermostat and housing, radiator, expansion tank, upper and lower radiator hoses and a few other bits and pieces.

Any thoughts on my above question about how the water hoses attach to the expansion tank. I would get out and start removing pieces but it's too darn cold!!!
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Old 02-15-2015, 02:32 AM
AH673000 AH673000 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
The 2 hoses feeding the reservoir, they generally last some 150K+.



A general guideline for E39 cooling system, once you know the average lifespan of each component, then you can make an educated guess as to what to do...



- OEM WP: 100K-180K, after that the bearing goes out, or the seal leaks.



- Fan Clutch: 120K-200K. In rare instances, it explodes and the fan blade slices through everything, incl. the hood. But this is rare.



- Fan Blade: this is plastic, so after some 150K, the plastic is brittle and small pieces fall off here and there.



- Thermostat: in my experience, the metal prong starts breaking at 70K-80K or so. No the engine will not overheat but the engine runs cold.



- Tstat housing is plastic, after 120K, it is a guess.



- The stock rad usually lasts some 140K-180K. Then the upper plastic neck starts to crack, especially cars from the South and idling in traffic all the time.



- The 2 rad hoses: usually last some 150K, after that it is a guess.



- All heater hoses are unreliable after 160K. So whether you drive a Honda, Volvo or BMW, after this mileage, start thinking heater hoses, all of them. So Volvo people lose an engine because the heater hose, when bursting, dumps coolant very quickly.



- The reservoir: 110K-180K. If you replace it, use BMW brand only. And throw the old reservoir in the trunk.

Replace the cap at the same time.



- The plastic pipe under the manifold, wait until 150K or so, or when you remove the manifold for CCV job (although you can replace the CCV w/o removing the manifold).



Anyway, tons of info in forum...



Thanks.... Nice list.... I will add my actual experience ..

Thermostat housing started leaking ( small crack ) at 121,000 miles.

Water pump started leaking at 124,000 miles ( bearing)

Did a complete CW overhaul and found everything else in fair condition when I did autopsies on each part .

I used your DIY posting and the job went without a hitch. Having the right tools helped.
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