I've been using the available Prestone "All makes all models" gold colored antifreeze that's in every parts house across the country, just be sure to do a complete drain and flush before adding the universal stuff. I'm sure most bimmerfester's wouldn't agree with the use of this product. I've only been using the universal coolant for a couple of years and I haven't had any problems.
Since you're asking, I'm one of those fellows Mykk spoke of, as I'm firmly against using other brands. Not because I like blue more than green or gold, but because of how the expansion tank was discolored by the other stuff that was in it when I got it. I learned here, that the plastic pieces of our systems are just more likely to fail at some point around 100-150k, than they are not to fail. So I try to give fault to that simple fact too, but the discoloration on the inside of said pieces suggests whatever it was, ate in a bit. I don't care you chalk that up, that can't be good. Even the impeller on the old aux pump was in abnormally rough shape if you ask me. Can't simply blame the coolant, but can't discredit involvement either since BMW is so adamant of using theirs.
Whatever you do, as Mykk said, make sure you've completely flushed as best you can.
IOW, my advice in the handling would look something like a trip to the grocery store to get about 20 gallons of DISTILLED water (talking like a buck a gallon). Then a full drain, and refill with the distilled only. Run it up to operating temp, get a dozen miles in'er, and drain again. If it's not pretty damn clear, and I'd expect the first go not to be, do it again. You will be doing a hugely good thing for your system to get it very cleaned out. A full step further would be to then pull radiator out so you can back flush it with the hose and then drip dry.
By then, as long as you've only put distilled water in, and get the mix down as close to 50/50 as possible, whatever you put in will probably be fine for a good long time since pretty much every coolant out there is expected to be fine in both aluminum and iron heads/blocks. But if you start having plastic pieces fail, don't say you weren't warned.
Big key is using distilled water as it keeps mineral deposits and rust formation down to a minimum.
Rowe makes an equivalent for BMW antifreeze. It usually runs around 22 bucks for a gallon of the full strength. Don't know what BMW charges for the OEM coolant, but 11 bucks a gallon after its mixed isn't too bad.
Well, I am pretty sure that Prestone has developed a antifreeze that works with plastic, as all cars today have plastic parts in the cooling system. As to a good flush, A+. As to distilled water A+ due to not having anything in your water except H20. The different kinds of metal in your system will cause electro chemical action over time, regardless of what kind of antifreeze you use, BMW or Rolls Royse. So your best bet is change it often, and only with distilled water mix, and you can test it for any electric current with a tester and change it when it reaches the required changing voltage level. JAT.
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