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Old 01-07-2010, 02:45 PM   #1
BigDaddySmooth
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Default Radiator life expectancy

Guys,
I have a '96 Ti base w/140K. I'm the original owner. Other than spirited cornering, I'm pretty easy on the old goat. I am not mechanically gifted. I had the t-stat replaced 3 years ago and the water pump almost 1 year ago. Other than those items, the radiator system is original. The radiator has been flushed 2-3 times. Am I pushing the limit on the radiator? If not, should I just have all the hoses/connectors replaced?

Thanks.
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Old 01-07-2010, 02:57 PM   #2
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if anything id have the radiator tested to make sure it doesnt leak antifreeze/compression then go from there as to rebuilding the whole cooling system or replacing just the hoses. id recommend changing the plastic thermostat housing up front and the plastic cooling housing in the read of the black too if and when you replace hoses.
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Old 01-07-2010, 02:58 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigDaddySmooth View Post
Guys,
I have a '96 Ti base w/140K. I'm the original owner. Other than spirited cornering, I'm pretty easy on the old goat. I am not mechanically gifted. I had the t-stat replaced 3 years ago and the water pump almost 1 year ago. Other than those items, the radiator system is original. The radiator has been flushed 2-3 times. Am I pushing the limit on the radiator? If not, should I just have all the hoses/connectors replaced?

Thanks.
Wow.. You are very lucky that thing is still working. I would say that radiator is way over it's life expectancy. I think I've had two or three radiators in my Ti. '95 with close to 150k miles. Florida heat and track driving definitely affect my radiator life, but I tend to think they are a 60-80k mile replacement item.

What will happen is that the top hose attachment point will crack/explode, or the bottom where the expansion tank connects will crack and start to leak. It isn't a catastrophic failuer if you catch it quick enough and turn off the car before it overheats..
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Old 01-07-2010, 03:00 PM   #4
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yea but your under different driving conditions, my radiator is at 121k and seems just fine. i've snooped around and nothing within my cooling system seems out of check.
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Old 01-07-2010, 03:14 PM   #5
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yea but your under different driving conditions, my radiator is at 121k and seems just fine. i've snooped around and nothing within my cooling system seems out of check.

My car was never once tracked in the first 125k mile. The radiator was replaced at least once during that interval. My 328, that I no longer own, had two radiators replaced in 135k miles.

While you may not have any obvious problems, I still stand by my original post that you are dealing with a ticking time bomb on a stock plastic BMW radiator with more than 60-80k miles. The same goes for any of the plastic components in the E36 cooling system. You can either wait until they fail, they will eventually fail, or do preventative maintenance.
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Old 01-07-2010, 03:18 PM   #6
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i see what your saying. it would be cheaper to do it now instead of sitting around waiting for a problem to occur before changing it.
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Old 01-07-2010, 04:46 PM   #7
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Default Estimated labor cost

Okay,
WTF...I just put $1500+ into the car for other issues, what is a few more hundred??? Pelican Parts has a kit for $225. They also rate this a "4" on difficulty. How long would it take any self-respecting independent pro to do the job? Should this "pro" also be expected to have the required fan removal tool?

Thanks.
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Old 01-07-2010, 05:17 PM   #8
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I have 174000+ miles on the original radiator and waterpump. I think the waterpump is just now starting to fail. so I have the majority of parts ordered.
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Old 01-07-2010, 06:52 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigDaddySmooth View Post
Okay,
WTF...I just put $1500+ into the car for other issues, what is a few more hundred??? Pelican Parts has a kit for $225. They also rate this a "4" on difficulty. How long would it take any self-respecting independent pro to do the job? Should this "pro" also be expected to have the required fan removal tool?

Thanks.
The fan on the ti is electric not a clutch type. No special tools needed.
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Old 01-07-2010, 09:50 PM   #10
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The fan on the ti is electric not a clutch type. No special tools needed.
On my one it is definately not electric... Don't know what the set up is in America but in UK they are not electric unless it has been replaced with an aftermarket item.
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Old 01-07-2010, 10:18 PM   #11
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My car has 222,000 miles (90,000 with DASC) on the original radiator and I replaced the thermostat @ 180,000. Hoses have been replaced here and there.

You got me thinking if maybe this is something to do come summer...

And yes, the fan over here is electric.
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Old 01-07-2010, 10:36 PM   #12
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On my one it is definately not electric... Don't know what the set up is in America but in UK they are not electric unless it has been replaced with an aftermarket item.
Yeah we had a thread a while back and all of the US owners were determined to have electric fans while other parts of the world weren't necessarily so.

I believe it came down to whether or not the car had AC, non AC cars had a clutch style fan.
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Old 01-07-2010, 10:39 PM   #13
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Ah I see. Every day is a school day!
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Old 01-07-2010, 11:29 PM   #14
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I'm at almost 130,000 miles and 175 months, and the radiator is fine. I had the cooling system pressure tested yesterday to find an annoying very small leak, and it ended up being a hose clamp.

Note that the E36 6-cylinders have a much higher radiator failure rate than the 4-cylinders, at least from what I can gather.

Vic
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Old 01-08-2010, 12:43 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2ndBimmer View Post
My car has 222,000 miles (90,000 with DASC) on the original radiator and I replaced the thermostat @ 180,000. Hoses have been replaced here and there.

You got me thinking if maybe this is something to do come summer...

And yes, the fan over here is electric.
Wow. Really? That is just dumb.

Anyways, after 100k BMW radiators become a ticking time bomb. They may never fail, but when they do, you have about 30 seconds if your at highway speed to turn the car off before you blow your head gasket.
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