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E60 (2004 - 2010)
BMW 5-Series (E60 chassis) was first seen in the Unites States in the fall of 2003 with a 2004 Model Year designation. The E60 is now available as a 528i, 528xi, 535i, 535xi, 550i and a 535xi sports wagon! -- View the E60 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 09-08-2012, 10:08 AM
wshampine wshampine is offline
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Angry Idiot dropped something into coolant reservoir

I slightly overfilled the coolant reservoir on my 2008 535 and was using a 5 inch piece of 3/8 inch copper tubing to siphon some out.

I lost the handle and dropped the tubing into the reservoir. I can't see it and I would imagine it's just sitting at the bottom of the tank.

Do I need to worry about this? I don't imagine the tube could somehow end up leaving the reservoir . . .

What about the copper? Would the antifreeze or copper itself cause some chemical reaction and mess up my cooling system?
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  #2  
Old 09-08-2012, 10:11 AM
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NoQuarter NoQuarter is offline
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Why would you even consider leaving it in there? It is your coolant system on a turbo charged car that runs at 235degF just cruising down the highway.
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  #3  
Old 09-08-2012, 10:19 AM
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Um yeah I'd be draining the tank and fishing it out, but that's just me.
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  #4  
Old 09-08-2012, 10:31 AM
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They have a little claw that comes in different lengths you can probably get it out with. Home depot and lowed carried them.
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  #5  
Old 09-08-2012, 12:50 PM
Gilgorm Gilgorm is offline
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I would use my pair of foot long tweezers to fish it out. A strong flashlight should penetrate to locate it. Don't leave it there.
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  #6  
Old 09-08-2012, 01:58 PM
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maybe a magnet? one of those telescoping wands with a magnet on the tip?
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  #7  
Old 09-08-2012, 02:08 PM
Shokubry Shokubry is offline
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Make sure you buy a "copper magnet" while you're at Home Depot / Lowe's, I doubt an ordinary one will work.
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  #8  
Old 09-08-2012, 02:56 PM
audiophool audiophool is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shokubry View Post
Make sure you buy a "copper magnet" while you're at Home Depot / Lowe's, I doubt an ordinary one will work.
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  #9  
Old 09-08-2012, 05:32 PM
wshampine wshampine is offline
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Well, I tried the claw tool and had a hold on the copper tube twice but since it's laying horizontal and I'm probably grabbing it in the middle, I can't fish it out of the very narrow space that is available. There is a float that has an indicator stick for showing the level of fluid in the reservoir that is in the way (the copper tube is under the float). I would have a much better chance if the float wasn't in the way. Is there any way to remove the float? If not, my choices are to leave it where it is or remove the reservoir. How hard is it to remove the reservoir? It seems to be attached by 2 mounting screws to the frame and has two hoses connected near the top and bottom. As with any repair, I'm concerned about breaking something on the reservoir that would render the car undriveable and cost me a whole bunch of $$ to repair. I really don't think the tube would be able to migrate anywhere outside the reservoir.

BTW - good idea on using a magnet but copper isn't magnetic unfortunately

Thoughts anyone?
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  #10  
Old 09-08-2012, 06:25 PM
tommyv tommyv is offline
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I would remove the resevoir. the hoses just unclip and then a couple screws to remove the resevoir. then you can turn it upside down and fish it out. reinstall, and then follow the below procedure to fill and bleed system

Before filling radiator:
Switch ignition ON, but don't start engine
Set heater controls to full hot
Set heater fan control to low
Set seat heat controls to low

Slowly fill cooling system and expansion tank to MAX using 50:50 mix of BMW coolant and distilled water

Leave expansion tank cap off
Start engine, let it idle for one minute
Install cap
Run engine until it reaches operating temperature
Let engine cool
check coolant level, add coolant to MAX level
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  #11  
Old 09-08-2012, 10:24 PM
bimmerfan52 bimmerfan52 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wshampine View Post
I slightly overfilled the coolant reservoir on my 2008 535 and was using a 5 inch piece of 3/8 inch copper tubing to siphon some out.

I lost the handle and dropped the tubing into the reservoir. I can't see it and I would imagine it's just sitting at the bottom of the tank.

Do I need to worry about this? I don't imagine the tube could somehow end up leaving the reservoir . . .

What about the copper? Would the antifreeze or copper itself cause some chemical reaction and mess up my cooling system?
You probably will not be able to get a tool into the reservoir opening to retrieve it without damaging your float and it's non-ferrous nature precludes use of a magnet.

First, the speed at which the coolant enters and exits the reservoir offers zero chance of the tubing being drawn out of the reservoir into one of the coolant hoses or interfering with the float.

Second, copper tubing can easily withstand the temperature of the coolant. Remember, cookware is made of copper and is used directly in the flame of a wood fire or gas cook top, and a propane torch is used to heat copper pipe when sweating joints (these flames burn in air at just under 2000degC). Temperature above flame is typically 320degC.

Third, copper is unaffected by coolant chemistry (many radiators are made of copper or are copper lined).

IN SHORT - Forget about it. It won't hurt a thing.

Last edited by bimmerfan52; 09-09-2012 at 07:43 AM. Reason: additional info
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  #12  
Old 09-09-2012, 12:59 AM
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boramkiv boramkiv is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bimmerfan52 View Post
IN SHORT - Forget about it. It won't hurt a thing.
WHOAAAT??!!

If you took time to get under the hood and fill,
you should do what tommyv says. The radiator
will not drain out if you just remove the reservoir
especially if you use rags to secure the hoses.
So only the first paragraph is what you should worry
about and then top off as you originally did.
I'm sorry but it's not okay to just leave tools
wherever they fall and forget about them.
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  #13  
Old 09-09-2012, 08:11 AM
bimmerfan52 bimmerfan52 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boramkiv View Post
WHOAAAT??!!

If you took time to get under the hood and fill,
you should do what tommyv says. The radiator
will not drain out if you just remove the reservoir
especially if you use rags to secure the hoses.
So only the first paragraph is what you should worry
about and then top off as you originally did.
I'm sorry but it's not okay to just leave tools
wherever they fall and forget about them.
No need to feign such a level of shock.

Normally I would agree with you, but it's not like he dropped a socket into the oil filler hole on a valve cover.

Just handling any of the potentially brittle coolant system components can lead to a failure. If the car were older I would say remove and replace the expansion tank, but on an '08 it is early to replace the expansion tank as preventive maintenance.

Tell me what harm the tubing will cause and if it is worth the risk of damaging something else (and having to run to the dealer to purchase the part or wait until they open), or even if it is worth the 30 to 45 minutes to drain it disassemble it, and refill it, just to say you retrieved it.
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  #14  
Old 09-09-2012, 08:30 AM
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I just think the potential of it doing something unattended is much higher with it there than not. My comment about temps was not that the copper was in danger just that these 535s run hotter than most cars and doing anything that might upset the cooling just isn't worth it.

It probably is fine and will never cause a problem - I just wouldn't leave it if it were my car
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  #15  
Old 09-09-2012, 10:13 AM
Gilgorm Gilgorm is offline
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Have you tried a bent piece of clothes hanger-type wire to lift one end of the tube so you can grab it with pliers or tweezer?
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  #16  
Old 09-10-2012, 05:53 PM
Mike Swing Mike Swing is offline
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What if something bigger like a screw fell in there? Is there filter at the bottom of the reservoir?
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  #17  
Old 09-10-2012, 06:44 PM
bimmerfan52 bimmerfan52 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Swing View Post
What if something bigger like a screw fell in there? Is there filter at the bottom of the reservoir?
No filter. You might be thinking of the hydraulic fluid reservoir -most commonly CHF 11S fluid reservoir (for power steering rack and active roll stabilization torsional valves controlling the separate halves of the anti-roll bar).

The coolant expansion tank acts as a buffer, allowing room in the closed coolant system for the expansion coefficient of the coolant once the engine is turned off.

After the engine is stopped the coolant in the engine and radiator has stopped moving and begins to absorb the heat soak from the engine (big mass of metal that has absorbed heat). As the coolant level rises the expansion tank allows a place for it to flow.

It flows in fairly slowly. After the system begins to cool the vacuum created in the radiator and engine block as the coolant contracts slowly draws the excess coolant from the expansion tank back into the radiator and block.

This is why to accurately check your coolant level you open the expansion tank cap and examine the stick level shown by the float when the system is cold.

Anything large enough to block the action of the float or something like paper or cloth that could be drawn into a different part of the coolant system would warrant disassembling the coolant tank.

If the OP is accurate in his statement that the 3/8" copper tubing is 5" long, there is no chance of it moving from where it is, and IMHO is be best left where it is.

Last edited by bimmerfan52; 09-10-2012 at 07:11 PM. Reason: Addtl Info
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  #18  
Old 09-10-2012, 07:12 PM
Mike Swing Mike Swing is offline
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Wow. Thanks Bimmerfan52! Great post.
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  #19  
Old 09-11-2012, 06:17 AM
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dolfan13 dolfan13 is offline
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Takes 5 min to remove tank***** some BMW blue and distilled water 50/50 refill.30 min 1 hour max.
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  #20  
Old 09-11-2012, 07:14 PM
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Just remove the tank... turn it upside down and reinstall... simple.
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  #21  
Old 09-22-2012, 01:23 AM
jsarg419 jsarg419 is offline
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If the dimensions are what you say they are it will just sit in there and not do any harm. If you are a fanatic like me driving down the road just knowing it is in there would drive me crazy. Good luck with what ever you decide to do.
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  #22  
Old 02-18-2013, 12:53 PM
pfollmer pfollmer is offline
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New to the forum here and I have a similar question to that of the OP.

I took my 06 530xi to the shop and while it was there they said my coolant level float in my coolant expansion tank was broken off. I bought the car used and have no idea how something like that could happen, but regardless, they then tried to scare my into having it replaced for $400! First off, I think I could do that myself. Secondly, since I never saw the original float, I don't know how big it is or if it's a threat to getting into the rest of the coolant system.

As I'm writing this, I'm wondering if the onboard computer keeps track of the coolant levels and if the computer's readings could be affected by a broken float?

What would some of you folks do in this situation? I was thinking of just replacing the coolant expansion tank, but I'm far from a skilled mechanic, so there is a bit of hesitation on my behalf. But for $400, I could buy all the tools and parts needed and then have some left over.

Secondly, and unrelated, the car has 112k miles on it, with no record of the spark plugs being replaced. Should this be done? The onboard computer says they have another 80k miles left, the shop said do it ASAP! Again, I've been looking up some DIYs and think I could do this for less than what they quoted, if it needs to be done at all. Any thoughts on this?

Finally, they said they discovered a slight oil leak that should be looked into further. From 100-110k, I put 2 quarts of oil in the engine. I figure if the oil leaks at that rate, I can just continue to top off the oil when needed. Any thoughts here?

Thanks for your help.
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  #23  
Old 02-18-2013, 02:02 PM
pcy pcy is offline
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Coolant reservoir tank is less than $50. It should take no more than half an hour to replace the tank. Use this opportunity to replace coolant.
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  #24  
Old 02-18-2013, 03:04 PM
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2 quarts of oil every 10,000 miles seems like something that needs to be fixed to me.

Someone may have replaced the plugs and reset the service interval like they were supposed to. Pull one out and see if it looks new.
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  #25  
Old 02-19-2013, 06:16 AM
Stephen Max Stephen Max is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bimmerfan52 View Post
IN SHORT - Forget about it. It won't hurt a thing.
Have to agree. It's not going to hurt anything where it is, and there is no chance it is going to find its way into the radiator.

Edit: Ooops. Didn't notice at first that this is an old thread. How come you can't delete posts?
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Last edited by Stephen Max; 02-19-2013 at 06:20 AM.
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