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  1. #1
    Eurodavid
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    ok, gang, me needs help! quickly, if possible

    Seems when it rains, it pours. Took the e39 on a drive (do it 3 times weekly) where I can get the rpms up to 4000 on successive shifts. With my daughter in the back seat, almost back at home, our last little acceleration from 2nd to 3rd gear (with the automatic shifting in sport mode), hitting the 4k rpm where I always ease up a bit to let it go into the next gear, I felt what was like a mud flap pop or like a slip in the engine. I immediately left off the gas, we drove the last 2km home, and the car ran fine (and the thermostat stayed dead center, not fluctuating either way).

    Upon opening the hood, I was greeted with bright, brilliant green rad fluid on the thermostat housing, around the belt, on top of the P/S reservoir, well, you get the idea. I immediately found a crack in the plastic thermostat housing where rad fluid is leaking out. I know I've been living on borrowed time with this thing, as it is the original thermostat housing when the car came off the factory floor.

    My questions:
    first:
    is there an easy way if I can tell if my water pump is still ok? I mean, how would I know it didn't freeze up and cause pressure to build to where the thermostat housing cracked??

    second:
    I've done my radiator (and associated parts) a few times, as most of you know. But my question is there a trick to where I can change this thermostat plastic housing without losing much rad fluid?? I mean, the rad fluid is basically brand new in there, as is the radiator itself, the hoses, clamps and all. Could I just wait until the car is only lukewarm, and then maybe get hose clamps and clamp those two rad hoses off (and get at the housing, assuming the thermostat will close as the car cools)?? Or will I just destroy those new hoses clamping them off??


    I have lost access to the garage/carport for the winter, so this all (in addition to my very recent windshield washer pump failing) is going to be a tough fix out in the cold, freezing, snow/rain weather.

    Would greatly appreciate any tips and/or hints on the two above questions (how do I know my water pump is ok, the pump propellers and all, and next, is there a trick to changing the thermostat housing out on the I6 where I don't have to do a full rad fluid drain and change).


    If it helps, here's a schematic of my 1996 I6 thermostat housing, thermostat and water pump. The crack on the thermostat housing is exactly where the dotted #10 line passes over the thick part of the right radiator tube portion of the housing itself:
    1996 I6 thermostat housing, thermostat, and water pump schematic


    Thank you for any prompt replies (I already have the fan shroud and fan clutch out of the car, a royal pain getting that thing loose in this weather!!).

    Eurodavid

  2. #2
    Eurodavid
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    also, opinions on the plastic vs alu housing??


  3. #3
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    I have heard they are good .



    Jay Gans 2000 528 MT Non-sport.Titanium Silver, Grey Leather. Premium Package, Cold Weather, Fold down seats. Oct 99 production.ash try mod so not bone stock. CD changer. Garmin C510 Nav..Honda CH150D scooter







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    We have replaced 4 plastic with 4 aluminum

    no problems with any of them, and for the same reason people buy Zionsville radiators, it won't have a heat related structural failure at least there. Any time you can replace the failure prone plastic crap, do it!

    Michael - Chattanooga Tennessee
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    Who is the supplier of aluminium housing used?


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    Re: Who is the supplier of aluminium housing used?

    we bought them from BAV auto abd Turner motorsports, Never paid attention to the brand.Michael - Chattanooga Tennessee
    BMWCCA 65795

    00 540 Sport / 6 speed, SaharaBeige Metallic / SamanaBeige II Montanna Leather, 35% tint, Xenons, DSP, CD Changer, Auto dimming rear view mirror, rain sensing wipers, fold down rear seat, Style 32 staggard wheels, Hankook Ventus V4 ES 245/45/WR17/95W Fronts and 275/40/WR17/98W Rears. 152,900 Smiles and climbing!

    08 Harley Davidson Sportster 1200 C Anniversary Edition Number 0064/3200 Copper and Vivid Black (FOR SALE)
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    Other BMWs hanging around usually needing attention
    06 E90 330i sport pkg +all options
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  7. #7
    cmyachtie
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    Go with the OEM plastic

    Euro,
    I just replaced all cooling parts last year and went thru the plastic vs alu eval.conclusion, plastic is safer bet.

    Good luck

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    If pump is also original vintage ie. same age as

    the thermostat housing I would play it safe and replace it at the same time or you might be unlucky enough to do this job again next month in the freezing cold weather.

    Last year I replaced everything, pump thermostat and housing, rad. and hoses and belt tensioners even though I had no idea what was acting up as all I got was the gauge going north on me during my drive home for no apparent reason I could isolate.
    With regards to you wanting to save you coolant and only do the thermostat you can just drain the rad, then elevate the front and you will loose very little coolant as I did that after my replacement cause I had a small leak on the thermostat housing.

    Make sure you use a bead of sealant around all the contact part of the housing to the head when assembling this baby.


    Jan/1998 528i, 5 spd manual, black on black non DSP.>300Kkms(180Kmiles) non-Sport, lowered with KONI FSD & Eibach springs in 2008, added "Bad Road package Adapters" to front only Dec 2009.
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  9. #9
    Crusader
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    Re: also, opinions on the plastic vs alu housing??

    Generally, upgrades to the OEM are desirable, but they occasionally fail as well. I've read of one Zionsville rad leak and also one Stewart WP failure (only one in each case and they're lifetime warranted) ... but they're several times OEM prices.

    The T-stat housing doesn't fail often, its usually what's inside. Given that, it's probably a toss-up unless you plan to show up at the 2050 Oktoberfest. Then I'd go with Al.

    As to your question on whether or not you have to drain, the T-stat is pretty high on the block. You'd probably only lose a couple pints of coolant at most and I don't think the refill/bleed will be any more problematic. Just to have a relatively dry environment when you remove hoses and the housing, drain a bit from the rad and catch it.

  10. #10
    Craig in Canada
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    Re: ok, gang, me needs help! quickly, if possible

    OK, the cold weather is going to make this suck.... Except for that, this is what I would do:

    1/ You can evaluate the WP bearing by just pulling on it with the belt off. Since you want to be comprehensive - you're going to have to pull it. IMO

    2/ If you get the shroud, fan and belts out of there, there's actually quite a bit of room to work. When I did my wpump a year ago, I removed the rad too. It was luxurious. The wpump and tstat bolts were easy to access, very lightly torqued, and there's no tricky tubes with O-rings like on the V8. Unbolt, inspect, re-bolt (if you don't want to change it).

    3/ I would be inclined to drain the rad and block, collecting what you drain to be put back in. When I drain the block I have to pull the O2 sensor and cover the hole with foil tape in order to get a tool on the block drain and not fill the exhaust with coolant. When I drain it I work both from below and above. From below I remove the O2 sensor and get the block drain almost ready to come out. Then I position a bucket and move up top. From the top I use a foot or so of some big clear nylon tubing - over 1.5" in diameter or so - the block drain plug must be able to pass through the tubing. Put one end in the bucket and get the other near the block drain. Deftly twirl the drain plug out the last turn and shove the nylon tubing against the block over the drain hole. This carries the plug and "most" of the coolant into the bucket instead of all over the suspension.


    I'm not sure what luck you might have with draining just the rad (because it's easy), elevating the front and just yanking the tstat housing. I suspect it would still be very messy and get everywhere.

    It sucks that you need to work outside. IMO, replace with an OE t-stat housing. I've read a lot of people have leak problems with the Al aftermarket replacements. Your story perhaps gives credence to the stories we've heard that cooling system problems manifest at the beginning of the winter when the "depth" of the temperature cycle increases compared to summer. My dad's rad blew in a cold snap a couple of Novembers ago too.


  11. #11
    Eurodavid
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    Re: ok, gang, me needs help! quickly, if possible

    Craig,

    Let me run this by you:

    it's dark out right now, so I am shutting down, but I wanted to run this idea by you: since the fan housing and fan clutch are out of the car, could I not wait till next morning, start the car, let it idle until it heats up (which ought to happen fairly quickly, yes, without the fan in), and then see if the hoses feel firm from fluid running through them---thus, indicating the water pump is fine, and the noise I heard while driving was the main belt slipping as I accelerated hard)???????

    Would that not be a sign the water pump is ok??? The thought of having to pull that thing too is not making me hapsky right now, if ya know what I mean.

    Thanks for responding so quickly earlier. Really appreciated it!

    Eurodavid

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    Yes | No

    If you had no indication of water pump problems >

    Before the tstat housing failure, you should have no problems now. The two are unrelated. That said, if replacing the tstat housing also provides you ready access to the water pump AND the pump is original equipment, this is certainly the time to take advantage of the situation and replace it. Otherwise, it will fail shortly after you get this current problem remedied. It's a Murphy's Law thing.




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    Re: ok, gang, me needs help! quickly, if possible

    Euro - I agree with Craig re the WP. Remove the belt and spin it. it should feel smooth not rough. It may also feel tight, as in not able to spin freely on its own. This is OK. Also, grab the WP shaft and try moving it up & down - there should be very little play in the shaft. The old WP that I replaced in my '98 actually had a metal impeller, so, I think you earlier version probably did, too.

    I don't think the hoses will firm from coolant running thru them - they already have coolant in them. They'll firm from heated, pressurized coolant.

    I've changed the t-stat housing without draining the block, only the radiator. You can reuse it if in a clean container. Before you loosen the t-stat, place a plastic bag over all the pulleys and belts, and then some cloths, diapers, bedspreads, what-have-you, over the plastic bag and under the tstat housing. This will keep everything dry when any coolant is freed from the housing.

    Your plastic tstat housing lasted a longtime. My first one lasted over 90k miles. Don't gamble on an AL housing - IMHO they are too stiff and don't contour to get a good fit to the head, and will leak.

    I'm thinking the noise that you heard was the plastic housing cracking and the expulsion of the preasurized coolant.
    Ed CT
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  14. #14
    Eurodavid
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    Ed, thks!! It was the noise that worried me ;-D


  15. #15
    dealer chgs 4 the housing Eurodavid
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    thks everyone! Will let u know tom what Belgian


  16. #16
    Eurodavid
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    New OEM plastic housing...

    Hi all,

    Went down to our only BMW dealer within an 80km radius, and ordered the plastic housing. I was very appreciative of the fact it was only 22 euros, which is close to $30 nowadays. Yes, that's almost twice what it would cost me ordering it online from the States, but when I factor the shipping charge it would cost from the US, it's fairly good (plus I don't have to wait 3 weeks). The dealer said the part would be in Monday morning, as they don't do parts runs on Saturdays. So, I'm just hoping the weather holds out, as it has gotten reasonably decent again to where it is between 30-40 degrees (ExAlfa, the garage/carport is filled with honeydolist moved stuff as I have the whole upper floor of the house tore up now---the HDL-ing never ends and is going to end up killing me).

    Also wanted tom pass this pricing tidbit on to you: when at the dealer today, I also wanted to order the windshield washer pump tat crapped out on me this past week. When the guy brought the price for it up on the computer, I quickly remembered to temper my happiness about the plastic housing's price. Why? Well, a new windshield washer pump for an I6 1997-1998 e39 I6 is roughly $12-14 (equivalent 9 euros) online at TischerBMW, RMEuropean, PelicanParts, and BavAuto. Anybody want to guess what the belgian BMW dealer's price for the windshield washer pump was?

    10 euros?
    13 euros?
    17 euros?
    21 euros?
    25 euros?
    29 euros?
    33 euros?
    37 euros?

    Answer: none of the above. It cost 39 euros, which is the equivalent of $51 US dollars plus change (at current exchange rates). Don't even ask me what a new water pump costs over here, as your collective jaws would hit the ground too hard if I told you that.


    Thanks again for everyone's help and timely replies yesterday. I'll get the plastic housing changed out Monday evening before dark sets in at 6, and will nix the windshield washer pump (and all its associated grommets) repair for about a month until those parts arrive from RMEuropean.

    Eurodavid

    P.S. my water pump is still new, as it has only 30k miles on it. I could find nothing wrong with it today spinning and trying to move it like some of you suggested. So, it's just the plastic housing, thankfully. Guess I should feel fortunate the housing lasted 194000kms.


  17. #17
    ExAlfa
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    Good luck with repair. Agree w/EdCT re: noise

    Too bad you don't have a garage to work in. May your tools be warm and the wind be still. How did you lose access?

  18. #18
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    Euro, as much as I hate plastic parts, I have to

    say that in my case I stuck with the OEM plastic thermostat housing after aluminum one leaked shortly after replacement.
    I know some poeple had the positive experience with them, but I question the quality of $10 part. Also, your original lasted for 14 years, so that's pretty good.
    I'd also preventively replaced the WP since you're there allready.



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  19. #19
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    10 dollar aluminum part...WHERE?!!!!!

    Out of 4 no leaks so far but we dont have any of those cars any more. They are local and with friends so I am sure we would have heard of it.

    I cant stand all the plastic crap in thes cars. I just purchased that cover under my car from the dealer for 44.00, will put it on this weekend.

    We did find one of the aluminum manifolds slightly warpped and I sent it back to BAV auto, the replacement sat flat on a flat serface, and torqued perfectly. I torqued according to bolt size instead of the spec in the Bentley.

    And you are right and for the same reason I have not bought a Zionsville radiator. If it lasts 60K miles and cost 120.00 it's far less than the aluminum radiator for sure. But did I mention I HATE all the plastic crap in thes cars. If I kee the car I can probably see a Zionsville in there eventually. Problem is I dont even drive the car 4,000 miles per year now so it will tak a looooooooong time to put 60 k on this radiator. Of course it is plastic just sitting is probably enough to make it fail.
    Michael - Chattanooga Tennessee
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  20. #20
    Eurodavid
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    Yes | No

    michael, click my link belwo plastic vs alu; $10


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