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  #1  
Old 07-13-2018, 11:32 PM
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Advice on cooling system overhaul - OEM vs aftermarket

I'm preparing to do a lot of towing the rest of the year, and could use some advice on my bill of materials for a cooling system overhaul. I'm not a BMW guy, I was raised on Japanese cars where you always, always buy OEM if you want it to last. BMW seems to have a huge number of aftermarket suppliers that people think highly of, plus the OEM parts are very expensive and there are a lot to replace. I'm hoping to pare my $750+ bill for all BMW parts down a bit.

First off, my car is a 2003 3.0i with the five speed, and has about 103k miles. i have all records from the previous owner, and I know that the coolant was last flushed in 2015 at 87k miles, and the thermostat and fan blades were replaced at 45k miles in 2007. Everything else is probably original. The original owner was very meticulous and always had the dealer do regular maintenance including coolant flushes.

Here is my bill of materials. Nothing here is failing, but I'm going to be towing a 3,000lb trailer for at least a half dozen camping trips in hot summer weather and would like to have peace of mind. I'd be happy to have anyone review my list and tell me if anything isn't necessary, as well as what I can cheap out on and which brand to buy.

11537500733 Upper hose
11537508688 Lower hose
17117544669 Radiator
17117573781 Expansion tank
11517509985 Water pump
11511711484 water pump o-ring
11537509227 thermostat
11537509357 thermostat gasket
82141467704 coolant
11287636379 accessory belt
17117571988 radiator drain plug
11511436590 oem plastic water pump pulley
13621433077 fan switch
17117639022 expansion tank cap
17137553919 Coolant level switch
17111707818 exp tank plug
13621433076 Coolant temp sensor
11537510120 water hose 5 (realoem number)
11537500735 water hose 9 (realoem number)
11537502000 water pipe 6 (realoem number)

One last question... Is the radiator really necessary to replace at this mileage?

Thanks so much, I appreciate any help!
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  #2  
Old 07-14-2018, 12:57 AM
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You'd be better served replacing the water pump pulley (OEM is plastic) with one from ECS made from billet aluminium.
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  #3  
Old 07-15-2018, 01:59 AM
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Hoses you can go Continental if you can find them.
Radiator, go Behr.
Expansion tank, go OE only.
Water pump, Saleri is fine.
Thermostat, Behr or Wahler.
Belts, Continental is GTG.

Coolant level switch is hall effect and does not directly contact coolant, just transfer it to your new tank.

Everything else just go OE.

Off the top of my head you are missing a few hoses. I recommend you replace every hose, including the heater circuit. I replaced a few piecemeal but after seeing how crispy they got, I replaced them all.

Oh, and replace the radiator plate, attached to the radiator, trans cooler also attaches here. It is plastic and canleak at the seams or burst.

Which reminds me, do the trans cooler seal rings while you are there.
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Old 07-16-2018, 10:11 PM
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Awesome, thank you for your input. I went ahead and ordered the expansion tank and cap (both OEM) since I'd like to keep that one hand. It sounds like it's the most common thing to break. I'll add in the heater hoses too. I've got a manual though so no trans cooler
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Old 07-16-2018, 11:00 PM
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I recently had the upper radiator hose fail - plastic fitting had a corroding hole eventually break through.

I replaced upper and lower hoses with new ones bought from RMEuropean.com. I bought Rein brand, which I believe is the OE Supplier on those parts. The plastic fittings had contitech on them, and one of them also had a BMW logo. The other one had a scratched off area on the fitting, which RMEuropean told me (and I believe) means it was a BMW branded part that they had to scratch off to sell as Rein.

So this means that at least for those hoses, if you buy the Rein ones from RME, you are likely to get BMW-brand-equivalents.

Also, I replaced the radiator with a Behr one, just based on age and mileage (about 186k miles now). The original still look great, no leaks anywhere, but the nipple for the upper hose is a little crumbly.

One challenge on my x5 is that I know the PO had a ton of maintenance done over the years, but the records are incomplete. So for example, I know I've got a BMW-branded expansion tank with 30k miles on it, so I did not replace that. But it turns out the lower radiator hose looked pretty new as well when I took it off. Who would replace the lower without replacing the upper - never would have expected to find that?
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  #6  
Old 07-17-2018, 01:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldskewel View Post

One challenge on my x5 is that I know the PO had a ton of maintenance done over the years, but the records are incomplete. So for example, I know I've got a BMW-branded expansion tank with 30k miles on it, so I did not replace that. But it turns out the lower radiator hose looked pretty new as well when I took it off. Who would replace the lower without replacing the upper - never would have expected to find that?

Plenty of people (and shops) will just change one part that has failed, hoping for the best. All that seems to do is reveal the next 'weakest link' in my experience.
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  #7  
Old 07-17-2018, 02:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audiophool View Post
Plenty of people (and shops) will just change one part that has failed, hoping for the best. All that seems to do is reveal the next 'weakest link' in my experience.
Yes, I figured that. But it also seems that the top one would be the first of the two to go.

But yes, completely agree with your read on this. And I've seen it a lot with the repairs the PO had done. Sometimes they would not touch something that clearly needed it, and sometimes they'd replace tons of stuff that probably did not need it. Like new rotors every 40k miles. Not carefully thought out in either extreme.
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  #8  
Old 07-17-2018, 06:38 AM
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Definitely replace the radiator. 103 miles is a lot. I have one with 100 miles that's on its third radiator (original blew, I believe the previous owner replaced it with a 2nd hand unit which then let go at the seam between the aluminium and plastic).

103 miles and 15 years old. It's gone through a ton of heating/cooling cycles, and BMW plastic/rubber parts aren't exactly known for their longevity.
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  #9  
Old 07-17-2018, 10:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldskewel View Post
Yes, I figured that. But it also seems that the top one would be the first of the two to go.

But yes, completely agree with your read on this. And I've seen it a lot with the repairs the PO had done. Sometimes they would not touch something that clearly needed it, and sometimes they'd replace tons of stuff that probably did not need it. Like new rotors every 40k miles. Not carefully thought out in either extreme.
In my case it was owned by someone who had no knowledge of car repair, but at least took it to the dealer where they did regular coolant and brake flushes in addition to fixes like this. But the dealer didn't fix anything other than the exact item that broke, though.

There is some pretty weird stuff in there too. I should upload the stack of receipts sometime. It actually wasn't as expensive as I thought (about $10,000 of parts + labor in 95k miles, not counting warranty time obviously) but there were I think two or three breakdowns stranding driver which is really bad. Very interesting to read through though.

Thanks guys
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  #10  
Old 07-17-2018, 11:53 AM
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The other thing I noticed on the PO's receipts is that he very often paid for stuff that did not get done - like I have a receipt saying a part was replaced and paid for, yet I find it as the original part. This is from dealers and indy's alike.

Poster child for why old vehicles like this are too expensive to own for those that don't know how to fix them. I bought it for 1/3 of his repair costs over the previous 14 months.

And again, on my radiator - it had 186k miles and 17 years on it, and had no leaks when I replaced it along with the radiator hoses last month (before confirming the internal issues with the engine, which I'm fixing now). It really looks great in every way, except that the upper nipple, where the upper radiator hose attaches, is a little crumbly at the tip. And it's definitely the original. So it is possible for these parts to last, but yes, can be risky.
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