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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Had one fail at about 50k miles two years ago (small streaming leak from back side of aluminum fins/tube). Replacement failed just yesterday, about 26k miles, two years. Failure mode is similar, upper left corner (drivers side) but on the front, aluminum fins/tube), small stream of coolant. In both cases, there really isn't much possibility of impact damage from a rock. This most recent failure is protected and not in an exposed area where a rock could have hit it. (when I replaced the last one, I had the water pump, thermostat, expansion tank and cap replaced. Car never overheats.

Strange...only other failure I had was with the original radiator at around 60k miles (just outside of warranty) and the plastic cracked.

I've had two others replaced preventively, always Behr. One at 65k, the other 100k.

I'm at 325k+ miles, will probably just have the shop throw another Behr at it. Not sure I want to go Nissens.....and car ain't worth putting an all aluminum one on it.
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Sounds like a plan.
 
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I‘d pass on the Nissens radiator too. I’m sure some of you have read my Nissens rant, 3 of them failed in less than a year.
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I‘d pass on the Nissens radiator too. I’m sure some of you have read my Nissens rant, 3 of them failed in less than a year.
Sorry I missed it Jim. I asked my shop and they said they would only recommend Behr, no Nissens...they have used them in the past.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
BTW, I should take the opportunity to tell everyone to avoid Behr expansion tanks made in China. I went through a couple of them, and they both were throwing intermittent "low coolant" warnings even though the coolant level was okay...even slightly overfilled. After trying two, I tried replacing just the sensor with a Febi/Bilstein brand...no luck, same problem. I think the issue is with the float. There are lots of poor reviews on FCP Euro.com as well. I ended up (after close to a year of dealing with the issue) and went with a factory oem BMW one. These are also made by Behr. Cost way more, and there was no country of manufacture on it, but rumor is the ones Behr makes for BMW are still made in Germany, or at least somewhere in Europe. Either way, the BMW ones work.
 

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I’m sure you all know this, but the Nissens rads are the #1 choice for M54 and M52 and M20 people. I have a fairly new one in each of those apps.

What’s the difference?
 

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All 3 of mine leaked at the pass side crimps where the plastic side tank was connected to the core.
At the time I read too many posts about the Behr radiators leaking so I replaced mine with 3 Nissens and then a Zionsville. I kept the original BMW Behr as it was fine. I just didn’t want to get stranded. I still have it, I should do something with it as it’s just taking up space in the garage.
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Had a new Behr radiator installed today, with new upper and lower radiator hoses (Rein brand hoses, made in Germany, supposed to be from original equipment supplier). Very reasonable cost of $552 with tax at DUDMD Tuning in Auburn, WA. I swear without these guys, I would have sold my E39 years ago. They allow me to keep my car running at a reasonable cost. They are great for maintenance items too, like brake fluid flush, transmission service, suspension work, etc.
 

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BTW, I should take the opportunity to tell everyone to avoid Behr expansion tanks made in China. I went through a couple of them, and they both were throwing intermittent "low coolant" warnings even though the coolant level was okay...even slightly overfilled. After trying two, I tried replacing just the sensor with a Febi/Bilstein brand...no luck, same problem. I think the issue is with the float. There are lots of poor reviews on FCP Euro.com as well. I ended up (after close to a year of dealing with the issue) and went with a factory oem BMW one. These are also made by Behr. Cost way more, and there was no country of manufacture on it, but rumor is the ones Behr makes for BMW are still made in Germany, or at least somewhere in Europe. Either way, the BMW ones work.
Also had that issue with behr. Led me to chase a false head gasket issue since it plagued me at high rpms for whatever reason. sigh.. $$$ gone, but my Secondary air ports will thank me. Oh well.

I swapped out to a Rein Expansion tank and haven't had an issue since.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Also had that issue with behr. Led me to chase a false head gasket issue since it plagued me at high rpms for whatever reason. sigh.. $$$ gone, but my Secondary air ports will thank me. Oh well.

I swapped out to a Rein Expansion tank and haven't had an issue since.
Yes! Good observation. I learned on the FCP Euro website that the Rein expansion tank has good reviews, and only a few dollars more than the crappy "made in China" Behr one. Which is considerably less than the BMW Behr one, presumably made in Germany.
 

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Did you use the normal 540i Behr rad or M5 version? Going to replace mine eventually. It is a Behr made in 2016. Probably going with another Behr, but thinking about a CSF. Spendy, but cheaper than Zionsville.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Did you use the normal 540i Behr rad or M5 version? Going to replace mine eventually. It is a Behr made in 2016. Probably going with another Behr, but thinking about a CSF. Spendy, but cheaper than Zionsville.
I've always used the 540 Behr radiator. Would the M5 even fit? Is there more capacity?
 

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I've always used the 540 Behr radiator. Would the M5 even fit? Is there more capacity?
I think it has a thicker core or something like that. Was a direct swap for my 540i when I overhauled the cooling system on it. My car was a manual though. I think it'd work on auto's too but not certain. Yours auto or 6-speed?

Though not sure if the M5 rad would still last as long due to the 540i running hotter coolant temps? Only had it in my car for barely over a year before it was written off. Only one way to find out lol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Automatic on my car. I have the map cooling mod on my car by DUDMD Tuning...I think Dima said it opens the thermostat a bit earlier and can have the max coolant temp stop at around 103-105 versus 109C typically.
 
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