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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 07-21-2010, 05:42 PM
emp0878 emp0878 is offline
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Question Need help Replacing Coolant Reservoir

Can anyone post the DIY for replacing the coolant reservoir please. We got it loose up top but don't know how to unclamp the bottom hoses.
Thanks soooo much!
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  #2  
Old 07-21-2010, 06:15 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Is your car 2001 X5?
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  #3  
Old 07-21-2010, 06:31 PM
emp0878 emp0878 is offline
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2002 525i
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  #4  
Old 07-21-2010, 08:41 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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1998 528i:
http://bimmerboard.com/forums/posts/199986

1999-2003 6-cylinder:
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=442933
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  #5  
Old 12-11-2010, 04:52 PM
heynowjerry heynowjerry is offline
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2004 X3 - Can i change reservoir from top?

I looked over the posts. Do i need to get under the car to change out the reservoir?

Or can i manage it all from the top?

Thanks
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  #6  
Old 12-11-2010, 05:02 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heynowjerry View Post
Do i need to get under the car to change out the reservoir?
REMOVED INFLAMMATORY STUFF! Mea Culpa.

Instructions abound. Take a look at the bestlinks sticky for details:
- Cooling system DIY (cn90 1997-1998 M54TU) (cn90 V8) (aioros '99-03 M54) (Ågent99 '01 530i) (pelican 3-series)
- E39 Fan shroud removal DIY (Besian) (M54)
- Removal instructions for the alternator & drive belt system of a 2002 525i
- Removal instructions for the fan shroud of a 2002 525i
- Tools necessary for a cooling system overhaul

Last edited by bluebee; 12-12-2010 at 12:16 AM.
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  #7  
Old 12-11-2010, 08:58 PM
safety glasses safety glasses is offline
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Bluebee, I think you may have misread his question, it was "Do I have to get under the car?" not "OMG!! AHHHHHHH! So, like, do i ACTUALLY have to go UNDERNEATH the CAR? For REALZ? BUT WONT I DIE???"

Fairly reasonable question, I asked myself that when I did my brother's 540it 3 years ago. It was a eureka moment, "Of Course! From the underside! AHhhhhh you sneaky Germans I got you this time!"

So the answer is yes, you can unplug the hoses much more easily from underneath. You probably don't have to lift the car to do it (i didn't) but its a lot easier if you do. (Re affixing the lower plastic cover is probably impossible with the wheels on the ground, or maybe just extremely difficult and painful. I just dropped the front part of the cover and that gave me enough room to operate. But the cover seemed to be missing screws so YMMV.

My best advice is to thoroughly examine your new expansion tank to get an understanding of what is going on in the places you cant see. Conceptualize how it all fits together. That way you'll have a much better idea of how to take the old one out. Thats what I did, its pretty straightforward once you get the idea of the forces at play.

Don't forget to bled the system when you're finished, mmkay.

Also, WEAR SAFETY GLASSES while disconnecting the hoses from underneath the car. And for the Coolant level sensor, you twist it like a half turn then pull it clear.

When in doubt look at the new tank and you'll be able to figure it out. Don't worry about whether or not Bluebee believes in you. I BELIEVE IN YOU!
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  #8  
Old 12-11-2010, 09:05 PM
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bmw_n00b13 bmw_n00b13 is offline
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You need to raise the front end to bleed the system anyways.

Took me all of 20 min to pull all the hoses, get coolant all over the floor, and get the fan and expansion tank out. Pretty simple... You just need to lift the hose clamp a bit(1/4 inch) and they pull off. Might be a bit tight... Or a lot tight.

Safety glasses are a fantastic idea. Keep a towel around too (but not on the ground--it probably will get wet; Murphy's law)
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  #9  
Old 12-11-2010, 10:17 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by safety glasses View Post
you may have misread his question
Ah. I see. I'm sorry. Yes, I did read it as "oh my god, how can I possibly do this job without suffering the indignity of having to get under my car".

So, thanks for explaining it. I did give the answer that I covered all the steps in this post (probably in more detail than anyone has on this planet before in a DIY); and I explicitly "recommend" which tasks to do from above the car and which to do from below. So, I did take pains myself to explain, instead of just "remove the hoses", I said things like "from under the car, remove the hoses".

So, if he read that, he'd know what's recommended (as I was following the cn90, aeiros, and the Beisan and adding what was missing from all three.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by safety glasses View Post
My best advice is to thoroughly examine your new expansion tank to get an understanding of what is going on in the places you cant see.
This expansion tank phantom-view autopsy might help.
- Behr radiator and Behr expansion (aka surge) tank autopsy (1) (2)

Notice the D and the M on the pictures of the expansion tank for the distal and medial lower hoses; there are corresponding D and M markings on the hoses also (so you don't get 'em confused).

Quote:
Originally Posted by safety glasses View Post
Don't forget to bled the system
These will help the OP:
- Bleeding the cooling system (1) (2) (3)

In addition, these will also help the OP:
- Coolants recommended by BMW and users (1)
- How to refill M52/M54 coolant DIY (cn90)

Quote:
Originally Posted by safety glasses View Post
WEAR SAFETY GLASSES
Just to back you up, I say the same thing in my text DIY:
- Removal instructions for the fan shroud of a 2002 525i

Quote:
Originally Posted by safety glasses View Post
Coolant level sensor, you twist it like a half turn then pull it clear.
Yup. I said so also. So the OP has double confirmation of all this if he reads the DIYs. I'd wager I didn't miss a step, so, if he read all the DIYs, he already has all this information read by now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw_n00b13 View Post
Murphy's law
Given Murphy's law combined with the brittle plastic nipple on the radiator, he's gonna want to read this post also to make sure he has various and sundry extra parts lying around if he plans on doing the job in one fell swoop!
- Cooling system recommended parts list (1)

Specifically, note I made ALL the following mistakes (that's my job, I guess) ... so watch out for them as even though I read all the DIYs, I make all the mistakes not in the DIYs yet!
- I broke my radiator nipple
- I broke my expansion tank nipple
- I broke my bleeder screw
- I put on my fan clutch nut crooked
- I misplaced my thermostat loom

Note: That's why I write the DIYs with all the steps in them! If a mistake can be made, I'll make it by mistake!

To the OP, for a look at some of the things that can go wrong, see:
- Pictorial look at typical E39 cooling system failure modes (1) (2) (3)

Also to the OP, along the lines of wear-safety-glasses, make sure you MARK the tank with the date so the next person knows when it was replaced!
- Cooling system date stickers & radiator date codes & markings (1) (2)

BTW, to the OP. Please save your old expansion tank and cut it open.
Please note the black post in the lower chamber in the photo below.
Also notice that black four-inch-long slider plastic in the lower chamber in the photo below.
I can't figure out what it does, nor if mine was broken - apparently neither can anyone else (nobody has responded to the question posed a while ago).
Can you snap a picture of yours so we can compare the "natural" positions of that lower chamber (the upper chamber is pretty well characterized already).

- Will the next person who replaces his expansion tank please cut the old tank open and snap a photograph of the "natural" position of the second chamber?



Last edited by bluebee; 12-11-2010 at 10:38 PM.
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  #10  
Old 12-11-2010, 11:53 PM
safety glasses safety glasses is offline
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Bluebee, I love you man, I really do. I have a deep appreciation for what you are trying to do with organizing and categorizing the vast amount of info dispersed throughout the forum. You have been helpful to me in the past and didn't even know it, so I thank you for that.

BUT have you seen those commercials for Microsoft's Bing search engine? Where people are trying to find specific information only to be bombarded by all kinds of somewhat related results that they're forced to shift through in order to find the answers to their questions? I understand that you like to be extremely thorough in your explanations and the information that you provide but some times a simple yes or no will suffice.

I think of the links (10 of them!) you included are overkill. The one about the removal of the fan shroud would certainly have sufficed. It's also worth mentioning that those links mention the replacement of the expansion tank as just one part of a larger project so it may be hard to ascertain exactly what must be removed ONLY to change the expansion tank.

When I changed my brother's expansion tank those years ago I couldn't find a DIY and I wasn't about to spend 14 hours piecing bits of the ancillary information i could find into a method that i could reasonably assume would be the process in which proceed with the repair. So I just looked at the new tank, thought about it for a few minutes and was able to tell what I'd need to do to remove the old one. I then got busy, and was surprised by how easy it was. There was no DIY because there didn't need to be one.

Some people like step by step directions to follow for their adventures in DIY, some people need them, and others simply need certain bits of choice information they provide and use their experience to fill in the blanks.

The information I gave the OP was relevant and all in one place. I may have said things that were said before in multiple places, but doing so saves the OP the trouble have reading through 10 links to find the important info buried in each of them. I didn't send him off with enough research materials to write a senior thesis, I just tried to provide a simple explanation of a few things that might help him and trusted that he was intelligent enough to be able to figure it out.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that less is more. I mean, I don't even think there are 10 steps in a coolant expansion tank R & R so I don't know why OP might need 10 links about it.

And, dude, if you didn't/don't wear safety glasses while your underneath your car how could you think you're in any kind of position to tell another board member that something may be beyond their DIY skill-level?

I could go on and be mean and/or rude to you personally (obviously safety glasses are a big deal to me), but hey, we're on the same team here! THAT is something we need to remember, if we didn't have each other, we'd probably be forced to drive a honda or toyota or some other soulless FWD blah transportation appliance. I don't think any of us want THAT!
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  #11  
Old 12-12-2010, 12:20 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by safety glasses View Post
some times a simple yes or no will suffice.
OK.

Quote:
Originally Posted by safety glasses View Post
I didn't send him off with enough research materials to write a senior thesis
Sorry.

Quote:
Originally Posted by safety glasses View Post
less is more. I mean, I don't even think there are 10 steps in a coolant expansion tank R & R so I don't know why OP might need 10 links about it.
Yup.

Quote:
Originally Posted by safety glasses View Post
I don't think any of us want THAT!
Agreed.
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  #12  
Old 12-12-2010, 08:57 AM
heynowjerry heynowjerry is offline
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Thanks to you all...

Yes, I am not afraid of getting under the car, although I am not as mechanical as this group, and over the years, i have tiptoed into working on my 2001 330xi and my wife's 2004 X3.

Upper Radiator Hose Change - pretty straight ahead
Figured the bleed radiator process from this site as well.
Changed a rear door regulator.

So I'm average, but I haven't gotten under the car yet as I haven't needed to.

I'll take all your advice into account as I attempt to swap this out.

A bravo to 'safety glasses'. Well done.

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  #13  
Old 12-12-2010, 09:11 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heynowjerry View Post
I am not as mechanical as this group ... Upper Radiator Hose Change ... Figured the bleed radiator process ... Changed a rear door regulator.
Good for you! You're ahead of me on mechanical stuff.

My front door glass just stopped working (see here).
- Do you know a good way to keep a side window up (now off the track) for a few days

So I need YOUR help and advice as I'm afraid to open it up myself.

Did you buy the parts ahead of time - or open it up twice - once to find out what broke and the other to replace it?
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Old 12-12-2010, 10:21 AM
heynowjerry heynowjerry is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Good for you! You're ahead of me on mechanical stuff.

My front door glass just stopped working (see here).
- Do you know a good way to keep a side window up (now off the track) for a few days

So I need YOUR help and advice as I'm afraid to open it up myself.

Did you buy the parts ahead of time - or open it up twice - once to find out what broke and the other to replace it?
Well, i've had 3 of these go on 2 cars over the years, so after paying twice, i decided to handle it myself. my only fear was taking the door apart. If you haven't done that, the first time is tricky. I had someone who does stereo installs give me hand, especially with the woodgrain panel on the door handle. You could snap it easily.

All 3 windows. Heard a pop, and then the window wouldn't engage, but you hear the motor, which was fine. It was the regulator. I made the assumption on the 3rd one, bought the part bmwpartzdirect, about $131 shipped. They have a return policy in case there was a better hack instead of using the regulator, cost about 20-25%, but that was my plan.

I found a thread or two on folks jimmying the existing regulator with wire ties to make it work, but I didn't feel confident, especially after removing the door. Regulator was easy on a rear door, but front door has an airbag, so has it's own complications.

only a 20 min job once you get the door open. Just pull out the old one, and reconnect the wires. There are many posts on replacing a regulator, and a great YouTube video display (full HD) on a mechanic going through the process on a 3 series.

I bet it's the regulator.
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  #15  
Old 12-14-2010, 02:27 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heynowjerry View Post
I bet it's the regulator
Thanks. I've read all I can; now I only need the courage to tackle it.
- Do you know a good way to keep a side window up ?

Here's my DIY for the coolant reservoir (as part of an alternator job).

Any updates yet?


Last edited by bluebee; 12-14-2010 at 02:30 PM.
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  #16  
Old 12-15-2010, 07:12 AM
heynowjerry heynowjerry is offline
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job done

I posted on another thread. I must have had 2 running. My bad.

Job done. Didn't need to get under for the reservoir change after all, just for the radiator draincock. Performed flush while I was at it.

The trick is pretty simple after you do it once, but it's all done from the top. The PDF i viewed help on pulling the lock on the main connector, and the unit pops right out. Getting the lock back on the bottom of the reservoir was tough, but from underneath, there are far too many blockers to get to the reservoir.

The help was very good.

Thanks
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  #17  
Old 12-15-2010, 07:57 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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A word of warning. The reservoir is just the beginning.
Once the reservoir leaks, many times will follow soon.
Search forum for "Cooling Overhaul".
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  #18  
Old 12-15-2010, 09:53 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heynowjerry View Post
Job done.
Like cn90 said, the entire cooling system will eventually fail, if anecdotal evidence here is any indication.
- Pictorial look at typical E39 cooling system failure modes (1) (2) (3)

BTW, it would be great if you can cut open your expansion tank and let us know the status of the second (hidden) chamber above the two bottom hoses.

In mine, the black float appeared to be locked into place unnaturally; but I have nothing to compare it to.

If you cut open your old expansion tank, please post a picture of the innards.

thanks,
BB
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  #19  
Old 12-23-2010, 06:02 AM
heynowjerry heynowjerry is offline
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Sorry guys, already dumped it before i saw the post. My bad.

Next time, uh, hopefully not next time
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  #20  
Old 08-30-2013, 11:41 AM
golferken55 golferken55 is offline
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maintenance?

I love BMWs but man, do they make it hard to DIY????
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  #21  
Old 08-30-2013, 12:09 PM
Burning2nd Burning2nd is offline
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I didn't have to raise the car or get on the ground to do my expansion tank on my 540 both times
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  #22  
Old 09-02-2013, 12:01 AM
Crutzy Crutzy is offline
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Expansion tank is 'mostly' done from topside.
I had to unclip the lower hoses and the radiator from the clips (and put them back on the clips from below in order to loosen the shroud).
But why does it matter anyway?

You go topside and bottomside when you need to and it's not a big deal.

I don't understand this thread.
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