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Old 07-03-2012, 08:32 PM   #1
nc318tigurl
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Default 96 318ti Expansion Coolant Tank

Hey guys, I have a leak that I discovered after my acquisition of a 96 318ti manual. Based on the weeping ring an coolant residue around the bottom of the expansion tank, I have reason to believe that either the o-ring is damaged or something is causing the tank to leak. When I turn the car on an put the a.c.on, the coolant pours out from that area/side of that tank. I have not tried starting w/o the a.c on, I'll post that next, but it seemed as my tank was very low upon inspection an I know there was more. I will post again when I can, nut any help would be greatly appreciated it. I'm scared to drive under these conditions an do not want the car to overheat.
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Old 07-03-2012, 09:27 PM   #2
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I recommend replacing the entire cooling system or the radiator at the very least. If you have coolant leaking, you can pretty much assume that air is getting it. Overheating due to airlock is a bigger problem that you should concern yourself with. And like always, I recommend that any time you open the coolant loop, whether it be replacing parts or simply topping off the system with coolant, always follow with a PROPER bleed. Read my post in this thread, the links should be helpful:
http://www.318ti.org/forum/showpost....42&postcount=3
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Old 07-03-2012, 10:14 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nc318tigurl View Post
Hey guys, I have a leak that I discovered after my acquisition of a 96 318ti manual. Based on the weeping ring an coolant residue around the bottom of the expansion tank, I have reason to believe that either the o-ring is damaged or something is causing the tank to leak. When I turn the car on an put the a.c.on, the coolant pours out from that area/side of that tank. I have not tried starting w/o the a.c on, I'll post that next, but it seemed as my tank was very low upon inspection an I know there was more. I will post again when I can, nut any help would be greatly appreciated it. I'm scared to drive under these conditions an do not want the car to overheat.
Congratulations on acquring a 318TI. Very dependable and nimble car.

If you want to enjoy driving this car for a long time, you need to address the cooling system overdue maintenance soonest possible esspecially on high mileage ones with over 140k miles. I bought mine for my daughter with 175k miles and a blown engine due to overheat. The previous owner practically just gave me the car since the shop quoted him $4500 to replace the engine. I guess the cooling system on these cars only last about 150k miles or 170k miles at most. How many miles on your car?

The most notorious cooling system parts that give up are the plastic tubes and hoses in the rear, under the intake manifold and in the engine front, and the plastic expansion tank integral to the radiator.

When I replaced my engine, I found out the plastic expansion tank in the radiator was also leaking like yours. I tried to reseal it with RTV to no avail. I ended up buying a new radiator. Too much of a risk to overheat the $1000 engine swap.

Good luck.
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Old 07-03-2012, 11:40 PM   #4
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+1 to all of the above. While you're replacing the radiator go ahead and replace the thermostat and the water pump, too. They both are considered 60,000 mile replacement items by good BMW mechanics. The radiator may last 100k. Much better, and much less expensive to maintain rather than repair a BMW.
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Old 07-03-2012, 11:59 PM   #5
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I know in your other thread it was mentioned that the $5 o-ring solved that persons problem but for a large number of people on here the o-ring did nothing except waste them $5 and the time it took to replace it. I also here it s huge PITA to do! If you at least do the radiator/expansion tank then your looking at around $145-150 which all things considered isnt too bad if you think of what the cost could be worst case scenario. If you got the $ to get the rest of the cooling items replaced as the above posts have stated then do so. You can get it all done in a day and in the long run you will thank yourself for the extra piece of mind.
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Old 07-04-2012, 12:25 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cooljess76 View Post
I recommend replacing the entire cooling system or the radiator at the very least. If you have coolant leaking, you can pretty much assume that air is getting it. Overheating due to airlock is a bigger problem that you should concern yourself with. And like always, I recommend that any time you open the coolant loop, whether it be replacing parts or simply topping off the system with coolant, always follow with a PROPER bleed. Read my post in this thread, the links should be helpful:
http://www.318ti.org/forum/showpost....42&postcount=3
I found a behr radiator from car quest at about $160 - $170 range. How hard is it to change the radiator on youir own? I dont have many friends and anyone who would be able to help me, so its a solo job. An with the bleeding, how much coolant should I buy an will it be the good stuff? I hate to waste the good stuff, but I will do what I have to!
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Old 07-04-2012, 12:26 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jca View Post
+1 to all of the above. While you're replacing the radiator go ahead and replace the thermostat and the water pump, too. They both are considered 60,000 mile replacement items by good BMW mechanics. The radiator may last 100k. Much better, and much less expensive to maintain rather than repair a BMW.
Where is the thermostat? Im use to japanese car locations, but cannot find it on the beamer
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Old 07-04-2012, 02:26 AM   #8
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its behind the gadget the radiator hoses connect to on the front of the block.

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Old 07-04-2012, 04:27 AM   #9
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If you're not used to working on cars, this is probably one of those things where you should enlist the help of someone who is. I recommmend finding a REPUTABLE independent mechanic who is qualified to work on BMW's. If you get in over your head on this, things can go south real fast.
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Old 07-04-2012, 06:24 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cooljess76 View Post
If you're not used to working on cars, this is probably one of those things where you should enlist the help of someone who is. I recommmend finding a REPUTABLE independent mechanic who is qualified to work on BMW's. If you get in over your head on this, things can go south real fast.
I've worked on cars before, Im not a stranger to it. I dont like the idea of a mechanic trying to take advantage of me...so I learned from my dad. I just want to know if its a standard radiator swap or is it something extensive and different involved in the process.
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Old 07-04-2012, 06:36 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nc318tigurl View Post
I've worked on cars before, Im not a stranger to it. I dont like the idea of a mechanic trying to take advantage of me...so I learned from my dad. I just want to know if its a standard radiator swap or is it something extensive and different involved in the process.
Oh I see, well in that case yes the radiator swap is pretty cut and dry. The upper clips can be a pain in the butt sometimes. I usually recommend BMW coolant, but unless you're going to flush the entire system, I'd just use the same coolant that's already in there as it's not a good idea to mix different coolants. You'll probably need 1.5-2 gallons, but you might be able to get away with only 1 gallon if you salvage the coolant from your old radiator. Most importantly, make sure you bleed the system afterwards.

It sucks that there's a lot of shady mechanics out there that will absolutely take advantage of people, especially if you drive up in a BMW. FWIW, I was refering to the rest of the cooling system replacement that can get pretty sketchy if you're not comfortable with a wrench. For example, the water pumps usually crumble and become lodged in the engine when you try to remove them. First instinct is to pry it out, but that can easily cause more expensive damage. The best way to remove a stubborn water pump is by gripping it with a BIG pair of channel locks and rotating it side to side while gradually pulling it out of the engine. I always recommend replacing the entire cooling system in one shotsince the bleed procedure is pretty tricky and usually takes several attempts to get all of the air out of the system. Head gasket failure due to overheating is the number one killer of these engines. Trust me, you don't want to go down that road. So being that these cars are getting old, the plastic parts and rubber hoses that are known to crack and fail should be replaced along with the common wear components such as the radiator, thermostat and water pump. Best wishes and welcome to the forum

Last edited by cooljess76; 07-04-2012 at 06:48 AM.
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Old 07-04-2012, 06:46 AM   #12
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Well, the coolant is pretty low, so if I grabbed some BMW coolant, would I be alright to mix it with whats in there already/add to it? The previous owner had a gallon of proline coolant in the trunk



Is this good to use or get rid of it? I can only assume that he placed this type of coolant in the expansion tank.
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Old 07-04-2012, 07:11 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nc318tigurl View Post
Well, the coolant is pretty low, so if I grabbed some BMW coolant, would I be alright to mix it with whats in there already/add to it? The previous owner had a gallon of proline coolant in the trunk

Is this good to use or get rid of it? I can only assume that he placed this type of coolant in the expansion tank.
I edited my previous post while you were typing.

I don't think you're supposed to use that type of coolant in these engines. I could be wrong, but I think BMW coolant doesn't have glycol or something to that effect. Hopefully someone else will chime in. That being said, I wouldn't recommend mixing coolants. My best advice is to flush all of the old stuff out of your engine and heater core, then start fresh with BMW coolant. If you plan on doing all of your own maintenance, you may want to consider purchasing a Bentley manual. They cost about 30-40 bucks or at the very least you might want to pick up a Haynes manual from your local auto parts store. Neither of them are 318ti specific, so you'll need to get one for the BMW e36 1992-1999. You can also find good info in the knowledge base section of this forum as well as the tech article section on pelicanparts.com. If you don't want to buy the Bentley manual, there's a PDF copy floating around somewhere on the forum, but I always like to have the book so I can refer to it while I'm under the hood instead of getting my keyboard greasy.

Some really good resource is www.realoem.com. Here you could find any part number or illustration you'll ever need for your car. Just type in the last 7 digits of your VIN and all of the information regarding your particular year and model will become available. I highly recommend creating a shortcut to your desktop after you enter your VIN. This will come in handly as a quick reference for part numbers and illustrations later down the road. For parts, I usually recommend www.getbmwparts.com, pelicanparts.com and ecstuning.com. These places sell genuine BMW parts for a fraction of the price you'd pay at the dealer. All of them have excellent service. Personally I compare the prices between the three and go with the cheapest, however sometimes shipping spoils the deal when you're just purchasing one or two small items. So what I like to do is keep a "wish list" file on my computer and wait until I get enouogh stuff to make shipping worth while, then I'll compare prices and place the order.

Hope that helps.
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Old 07-04-2012, 07:18 AM   #14
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Here's a couple threads about coolant that should be helpful:
http://www.318ti.org/forum/showthread.php?p=307176
http://www.318ti.org/forum/showthread.php?p=255225
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Old 07-04-2012, 07:38 AM   #15
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Found a deal on a haynes manual, an will be picking that up. I will search the above threads for the flush procedure and grat about 2 gallons or so from BMW. Are they 50/50 or do I have to do the mix water stuff? Ty for all of the tips, I plan on doing it right vs doing things twice!
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