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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E39 (1997 - 2003)

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 11-04-2012, 10:10 AM
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bkgreene39 bkgreene39 is offline
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Expansion Tank From Dealer Leaking

I recently installed a new expansion tank that I have purchased from the dealer. Looks like I don't have the greatest luck with parts. This new expansion tank is leaking currently, and not from the cap. I have checked the cap it's dry around that area.

I have my old expansion tank in the trunk just in case something like this would occur. Couple of strange questions I will be throwing out here so bear with me. Before this happened I slightly tightened the hose clamps on the lower hose. Would this affect anything pressure wise? The remaining parts that I have not changed in the cooling system are the water pump, fan clutch, expansion tank cap.

I installed this new expansion tank at the end of September, and I have reused the old cap from the previous expansion tank. But again it does not appear to be leaking from the cap area. All has been fine until Nov 3, yesterday. Would any remaining parts that I have not changed affect the expansion tank? Or is this just a defective tank? I have looked around the water pump, appears dry. I will switch to the old expansion tank and see if that one leaks, but it will take me a couple of days since I don't have the time to work on the vehicle at the moment. Thanks for any replies.
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  #2  
Old 11-04-2012, 10:17 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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How are you sure the expansion tank is leaking (visual evidence?)? Where is it leaking? All parts bought from the dealer have a one year warranty. So if it is really leaking, return it and get another one.
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  #3  
Old 11-04-2012, 10:30 AM
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bkgreene39 bkgreene39 is offline
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Yes I see coolant around the black colored plastic area. You know perhaps I am incorrect maybe it is the cap, since it sits on the top and flows downward. I will change the cap first couldn't hurt. I will have to study the leak a little better, if it is indeed the tank I fully intend to use the warranty. The attached picture with the arrow shows where the coolant is sitting. So perhaps it is the cap.
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  #4  
Old 11-04-2012, 10:34 AM
uncmozo uncmozo is offline
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I agree 100% with Fudman.

Tightening the lower hose clamps would not effect the expansion tank. Also, not replacing the other parts you have mentioned should not effect the tank either.

I would return it to the dealer for a new replacement.

Jerry
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  #5  
Old 11-04-2012, 10:35 AM
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bkgreene39 bkgreene39 is offline
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That picture just shows where I found the coolant, no coolant in that picture as that was taken after I installed the tank.
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  #6  
Old 11-04-2012, 10:43 AM
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bkgreene39 bkgreene39 is offline
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Thank you for replies, if anyone cares I will update once solution is found.
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  #7  
Old 11-04-2012, 12:01 PM
venzon venzon is offline
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Always nice to get an update. Check the bleeder screw also.
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  #8  
Old 11-04-2012, 02:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by venzon View Post
Always nice to get an update. Check the bleeder screw also.
Bleeder screw is fine, changed it to brass when I installed my expansion tank FWIW.
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  #9  
Old 11-04-2012, 06:25 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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My BMW tank cracked after 5yr/35K miles (Installed May 2006, cracked in May 2011)

Rule #1 regardless of cars, whenever you replace a coolant reservoir, always replace the cap, it is cheap insurance.

So, go to BMW dealer and get a new cap.
Please post a follow-up.
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  #10  
Old 11-04-2012, 07:40 PM
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Haven't found a solution as of yet. Keeping the car stationary due to this whole fuel shortage scenario. So I was poking around and was observing the cap. I attached a picture via my cell phone, hopefully it can be seen that some plastic underneath the oring appears to have broken off. I will obtain a new cap and update if leak is gone.
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  #11  
Old 11-04-2012, 07:45 PM
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bkgreene39 bkgreene39 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
My BMW tank cracked after 5yr/35K miles (Installed May 2006, cracked in May 2011)

Rule #1 regardless of cars, whenever you replace a coolant reservoir, always replace the cap, it is cheap insurance.

So, go to BMW dealer and get a new cap.
Please post a follow-up.
If it is indeed the cap, lesson learned. Fwiw I only changed the expansion tank due to preventative maintenance. The original expansion tank I changed was 14 years old and had no issues with it. Thats not to say it wouldn't fail, but when and how cannot be predicted. Especially on a 14 year old part on an almost 15 year old car.
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  #12  
Old 11-05-2012, 12:31 AM
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I always change the cap when i replace a exp. tank. Also make sure your not over filling it and that the rubber o-ring didn't come off the bleeder screw. Check level when cold. If you check it while its warm it will show more.
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  #13  
Old 11-05-2012, 04:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bkgreene39 View Post
If it is indeed the cap, lesson learned. Fwiw I only changed the expansion tank due to preventative maintenance. The original expansion tank I changed was 14 years old and had no issues with it. Thats not to say it wouldn't fail, but when and how cannot be predicted. Especially on a 14 year old part on an almost 15 year old car.
I think that captures it quite nicely. If your expansion tank is 14 years old, your cap is also likely to be 14 years old. If the tank was suspect because it was plastic, so should the cap. And typically, when you increase the strength of the weakest link in the chain (e.g. expansion tank), the failure simply moves to the next weakest link (in this case, the cap).

The lesson learned is when doing preventive maintenance and to avoid future issues, you should replace all components in a system (suspension, cooling, etc.). Otherwise don't be surprised if you are redoing the job shortly thereafter.
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  #14  
Old 11-05-2012, 07:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Whorse View Post
I always change the cap when i replace a exp. tank. Also make sure your not over filling it and that the rubber o-ring didn't come off the bleeder screw. Check level when cold. If you check it while its warm it will show more.
I always check when cold, as it sucks the excess coolant back into the system while vehicle is cooling down. It is not an issue with overfilling as i haven't bled the system since September and my coolant level was spot on within the expansion tank. This leak issue is brand spanking new.
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  #15  
Old 11-05-2012, 07:44 AM
jygesq jygesq is offline
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parts warranty is two years

dealer will replace if it is in fact the expansion tank.
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  #16  
Old 11-05-2012, 07:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jygesq View Post
dealer will replace if it is in fact the expansion tank.
2 years if installed by them, I installed it myself. So its one year I believe. It is possibly the cap, once I have the cap I'll update on what it was.
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  #17  
Old 11-05-2012, 11:51 AM
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I don't think it's the expansion tank. It comes from dealer, it should be the good one. The cap will deform in time.

When I changed my cooling system, I kept the old cap, and the first thing I noticed, it was hard to screw it on the new exp tank. Also, I had a very small amount of coolant leaking on the upper seam, just where you pointed in the pic. Purchased a new cap, and this one screwed on the exp tank very easy. Also, no more leaks.

I still have the old one, and I cannot tell any visual difference between the new and the old one.
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  #18  
Old 11-05-2012, 12:20 PM
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bkgreene39 bkgreene39 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doru View Post
I don't think it's the expansion tank. It comes from dealer, it should be the good one. The cap will deform in time.

When I changed my cooling system, I kept the old cap, and the first thing I noticed, it was hard to screw it on the new exp tank. Also, I had a very small amount of coolant leaking on the upper seam, just where you pointed in the pic. Purchased a new cap, and this one screwed on the exp tank very easy. Also, no more leaks.

I still have the old one, and I cannot tell any visual difference between the new and the old one.
Funny you mention this. When I transfered my old cap onto the new expansion tank it felt exactly as you described, hard to screw on. I didn't think anything of it at the time, I should have replaced it when i did the expansion tank. And hopefully you can see in the picture where the cap is shown, it appears some plastic has been stripped exposing the oring.
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  #19  
Old 11-05-2012, 06:15 PM
mrpumpk1n mrpumpk1n is offline
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My car has gone through three expansion tanks (bought from the dealer each time) THIS YEAR. Two complete cooling system overhauls and 3 extra expansion tanks later, im fed up with the cooling system of the e39. The car is still worth it though.
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  #20  
Old 11-05-2012, 07:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ferrijessica View Post
since it sits on the top and flows downward. [img]*****************XeP[/img]

I'm very sorry how could I be so vague, you'll have to excuse me. What I meant to say is that, most likely the coolant appears to leak from the top(where the expansion tank cap is located) of the expansion tank, where the pressure forces the coolant out. Eventually it trickles down to the rest of the plastic seam area.

After that happens you know how the rest goes, boring story but I'll share this with you anyways. The remainder of the coolant splashes onto my lower radiator hose, hits some other stuff here and there, then it settles allllll the way down to the undercarriage cover.

Last edited by bkgreene39; 11-26-2012 at 03:37 PM.
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  #21  
Old 11-06-2012, 06:08 AM
jygesq jygesq is offline
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two years no matter who installed

Quote:
Originally Posted by bkgreene39 View Post
2 years if installed by them, I installed it myself. So its one year I believe. It is possibly the cap, once I have the cap I'll update on what it was.
that is the parts warranty
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  #22  
Old 11-09-2012, 04:01 PM
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Installed new cap. Not leaking anymore. Expansion tank from dealer is not to blame.
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  #23  
Old 11-09-2012, 05:47 PM
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Good for you. Sometimes the cheapest easiest solution is the best solution.
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  #24  
Old 11-09-2012, 08:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrpumpk1n View Post
My car has gone through three expansion tanks (bought from the dealer each time) THIS YEAR. Two complete cooling system overhauls and 3 extra expansion tanks later, im fed up with the cooling system of the e39. The car is still worth it though.
Dude you gotta be doing something wrong. I overhauled my cooling system 50k miles ago no problem. I also did both of my friends e39 cooling systems years ago and they have not had any problems. coolant levels are all perfect.
now that i said that im expecting mine to blow up in my face..
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  #25  
Old 11-11-2012, 10:40 AM
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Well not good for me, guess I spoke too soon. It's leaking again, my e39 likes to torture me, its evident. I have no Idea at this point as to where the leak is originating from. Perhaps it is the tank after all. Or the bypass hose??? Which I changed in September.
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