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Old 11-01-2009, 03:00 AM   #1
PapayaSF
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Unhappy Help: water leak!

I drove my new '96 318ti today, parked it, and later when I walked by I noticed it dripping water from the bottom rear of the front bumper. It was getting dark, so I can't see exactly what's leaking.

And, of course, this has to happen on a Saturday night, and Monday morning I'm moving...!

I know from reading here and elsewhere how important it is to not let the engine overheat, so I guess my question is this: would it be safe to just top it off with distilled water, so that I can drive it to the shop (less than a mile away)? Or does it have to be mixed 50/50 with coolant, even on a short-term/emergency basis? I don't even know what sort of coolant it uses, having just gotten the car and not yet found an owner's manual.

Any advice?
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Old 11-01-2009, 04:09 AM   #2
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Stick your finger in the puddle and make sure its actually coolant. Other than that, its one of eight different spots. Either side of the main coolant hoses to the radiator, the line to the heatercore/main hose, waterpump, or thermostat housing. You can top if off with water, youll be fine.
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Old 11-07-2009, 04:37 AM   #3
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Default New radiator

Turned out to be an unrepairable leak in the radiator. I now have a new one and $540 fewer dollars....
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Old 11-07-2009, 12:40 PM   #4
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Turned out to be an unrepairable leak in the radiator. I now have a new one and $540 fewer dollars....
Dude you got boned with no KY. I just got a new radiator for $140 shipped to my house off ebay. Perfect fitment. Sorry to bring you the bad news
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Old 11-07-2009, 12:46 PM   #5
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+1...

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Dude you got boned with no KY. I just got a new radiator for $140 shipped to my house off ebay. Perfect fitment. Sorry to bring you the bad news
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Old 11-07-2009, 05:47 PM   #6
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Default Well...

Well, it's a shop I trust, and there's a little bit of difference between 1) the cost of one replacement part from eBay, and 2) having a mechanic figure out what the problem is, drain the coolant, install the new radiator, replace some clamps, refill it with new coolant, and make sure everything works.

Are you ripped off because the cost of two eggs, two pieces of bacon, and two pieces of bread at a supermarket is several times less than what a restaurant charges to bring it to you cooked on a plate?
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Old 11-08-2009, 07:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PapayaSF View Post
Well, it's a shop I trust, and there's a little bit of difference between 1) the cost of one replacement part from eBay, and 2) having a mechanic figure out what the problem is, drain the coolant, install the new radiator, replace some clamps, refill it with new coolant, and make sure everything works.

Are you ripped off because the cost of two eggs, two pieces of bacon, and two pieces of bread at a supermarket is several times less than what a restaurant charges to bring it to you cooked on a plate?
PapayaSF,
I like your attitude.
KY jelly is expensive too. Now the good part:

. One thing1) You have a guarantee, 2)you have a local supplier for the radiator / warranty if it craps out, 3) and someone that would probably put it in for you if it does crap out in a reasonable amount of time.

I use 1-800-radiator. Never had one fail. But they have a lifetime guarantee.

Most mechanix I know will not use cheap parts, since they have to work with it and also guarantee it too.

I do most of my own work, being a retired bodyman but sometimes, I gotta take one of my cars in to "my trusted mechanic" who has the computer to diagonos stuff.
Hurts like hell though.

Sorry that happened, bud.
At least you were smart enough not to keep driving it with a leak.

Since the shop put new antifreeze in when it changed the radiator, distilled or even regular tap water would be o.k. for a short distance.
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Old 11-08-2009, 08:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PapayaSF View Post
Well, it's a shop I trust, and there's a little bit of difference between 1) the cost of one replacement part from eBay, and 2) having a mechanic figure out what the problem is, drain the coolant, install the new radiator, replace some clamps, refill it with new coolant, and make sure everything works.

Are you ripped off because the cost of two eggs, two pieces of bacon, and two pieces of bread at a supermarket is several times less than what a restaurant charges to bring it to you cooked on a plate?
It does make sense if you don't want to do the work (cook the breakfast) or can't cook and have the money to spend. Personally I'm broke so I try to save every penny I can.......I trust my work over any dealer in town but that's just me

Also I like my cooking over almost all places but hate to cook all the time
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Old 11-09-2009, 01:45 AM   #9
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Default Not a mechanic

I'm not a mechanic, and a job as serious as finding and fixing a coolant leak would be beyond me. I might save a few hundred if I did it myself, but it would probably take me an entire day, and if I screwed up, would cost me more in the end.

Years ago I thought of changing the spark plugs in my TR-6, but chickened out and took it to the shop, and boy am I glad I did. One of the spark plugs off when they tried to remove it. It took them a great deal of effort to get all the pieces out, which they did at their expense, of course. If I'd broken that plug, it would have cost me more time and far more money than I might have saved.

If you want a website built or an article edited, I'm your guy. But it makes more sense for me to leave things like coolant leaks to experts.
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Old 11-09-2009, 05:40 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PapayaSF View Post
I'm not a mechanic, and a job as serious as finding and fixing a coolant leak would be beyond me. I might save a few hundred if I did it myself, but it would probably take me an entire day, and if I screwed up, would cost me more in the end.

Years ago I thought of changing the spark plugs in my TR-6, but chickened out and took it to the shop, and boy am I glad I did. One of the spark plugs off when they tried to remove it. It took them a great deal of effort to get all the pieces out, which they did at their expense, of course. If I'd broken that plug, it would have cost me more time and far more money than I might have saved.

If you want a website built or an article edited, I'm your guy. But it makes more sense for me to leave things like coolant leaks to experts.
PM me the next time you need something done on your car. I am 25 miles from S.Francisco in the East Bay. Might be able to save you some money.
I'm getting pretty good at finding parts at a discount (30 years as a body and fender repairman in El Cerrito and Shop manager for 10 years).
I am so picky about work being done on my cars, I usually do it myself.
I also only know one way to do things. The right way the first time, that way you don't have to do it twice.
Seems like a lot of the young mechanics I have dealt with are in such a hurry to beat flatrate, they don't have time to clean parts, reassemble correctly, or anything else. I HATE doing things twice.
I just changed the A/C condenser (which is probably the next thing that will go wrong with your car, it's typical on Bimmers) and spent less than $200 including the recharge and cost of new condenser. There's a place in Oakland where I get all my radiators and A/C condensers, cost me $142 for the condenser brand new with lifetime warrantee.
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Old 11-09-2009, 05:49 PM   #11
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Default Thanks!

Thanks, Mopho, I'll keep that in mind. The only thing at the moment is the apparently common problem of a broken driver's side door panel. I've found some tutorials online, and it seems like the sort of repair I might tackle myself. But if you find a dark gray door panel for a '96, let me know!

Oh, and the California sunroof part identified here. BMW San Francisco still can't find one!
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Old 11-09-2009, 06:55 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by PapayaSF View Post
Thanks, Mopho, I'll keep that in mind. The only thing at the moment is the apparently common problem of a broken driver's side door panel. I've found some tutorials online, and it seems like the sort of repair I might tackle myself. But if you find a dark gray door panel for a '96, let me know!

Oh, and the California sunroof part identified here. BMW San Francisco still can't find one!
I would go to an upolstery shop on the top part you need. They will have resources the dealer won't have.
Door panel? does it just need the mounts for the push buttons re-attached?
I glued my plastic mounting brackets with epoxy, picked up new push pins (that snap into the door and are mounted on the door panel brackets that come loose).
Another way to fix the door panel if it is not cracked and falling apart, is to get some long upolstery type screws and put a few in to hold the door panel on. Kinda micky mouse, but works if you don't want to take the door panel off.

I gotta do my drivers side still, it's flopping around, already fixed passenger side when I changed the window regulator.
The part # for the door panel "clip" (push in buttons to hold door panel on)
is #51-43-8-189-311
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Old 11-10-2009, 01:09 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PapayaSF View Post
I'm not a mechanic, and a job as serious as finding and fixing a coolant leak would be beyond me. I might save a few hundred if I did it myself, but it would probably take me an entire day, and if I screwed up, would cost me more in the end.

Years ago I thought of changing the spark plugs in my TR-6, but chickened out and took it to the shop, and boy am I glad I did. One of the spark plugs off when they tried to remove it. It took them a great deal of effort to get all the pieces out, which they did at their expense, of course. If I'd broken that plug, it would have cost me more time and far more money than I might have saved.

If you want a website built or an article edited, I'm your guy. But it makes more sense for me to leave things like coolant leaks to experts.
Well you definately made the right choice. I'm sorry for my remarks since if you did it yourself you might end up with thousands in damage.

You need to make friends with some DIY'ers

Best, John Smith
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Old 11-11-2009, 02:32 AM   #14
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BMW NA list price is $300. Hopefully they put on new hoses, too. And remember labor in the Bay area is likely to be $130/hour or more. I was quoted $800 just to replace the plastic water connector at the back of the cylinder head by an independent BMW shop in DC, and that was an $8 part. $500 for a radiator installed in San Francisco doesn't surprise me.

These are pretty economical cars...if you can work on them yourself.
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