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320i '04
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I'm doing a complete cooling system overhaul. I'm gonna be replacing basically everything but the radiator. My car has driven 120k miles. I don't know if there is a way to check if it's the original radiator but to be safe I'm assuming it's.
Is the radiator something you should change periodically or will it show slight wear when it's time to replace it?

What's the typical lifespan of an E46s radiator?
 

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E30M3 Race F10 535 R1150Rt M Coupe
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Most often there is a sticker on the radiator that shows the manufacturer (most often Behr) and a date code. If in question just get a Nissens. Along with a new "mount plate".
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Most often there is a sticker on the radiator that shows the manufacturer (most often Behr) and a date code. If in question just get a Nissens. Along with a new "mount plate".
Mount plate? If I end up buying a new I will get following.


911092
 

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E30M3 Race F10 535 R1150Rt M Coupe
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Used as an example. You will need to look up the one for your car.

911093
 

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2004 330Ci 85k miles
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It is the plastic bracket that attaches to the radiator and holds the expansion tank. They are different for MT vs AT cars.
Expansion Tank Mount Plate - manual transmission

The main failure point of the radiator is leaking, either from a crack or at the plastic/aluminum joint.
It you are doing a full cooling system refresh, will keep the car for many years, and your radiator is original, probably should replace it for peace of mind.
 

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I remember replacing the radiator at about 125K miles and was glad I did. If you don't have service records, I'd replace the cooling system because it's the weakest system on the car and it will simply give you confidence. The worst thing you can do is replace pieces and chase leaks.
 

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E46 '04 330Ci convertible 740K km
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Yes, do the radiator while you're there. You might get another 1-3 years out of it...but not more than that. FCP has good radiators ...and confirm your PN in realoem.com before buying. Also, since you asked...I'll mention newtis.info as another great resource.
If you do not race, radiator will last 200K km easily. Proper coolant mix, properly working thermostat, healthy fan and radiator cap 1.4 bar, and you really can forget about radiator for foreseen feature.
 

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I'm doing a complete cooling system overhaul. I'm gonna be replacing basically everything but the radiator. My car has driven 120k miles. I don't know if there is a way to check if it's the original radiator but to be safe I'm assuming it's.
Is the radiator something you should change periodically or will it show slight wear when it's time to replace it?

What's the typical lifespan of an E46s radiator?
I replaced my original radiator at about 110K because of a leak. I purchased a Nissens and was happy with it. I did not replace the expansion tank mount which still looked good. However, I did replace the o-ring used for connection from ET mount to radiator which may have been the source of the original leak.
 

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I'm currently testing a Nissens to destruction- I put it in at 150k, and I'm never going to change it again.

I'll let you- all know if the Nissens is tougher than stock.

;)

t
 

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320i '04
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Discussion Starter #11
I replaced my original radiator at about 110K because of a leak. I purchased a Nissens and was happy with it. I did not replace the expansion tank mount which still looked good. However, I did replace the o-ring used for connection from ET mount to radiator which may have been the source of the original leak.
You have the OEM number for that o-ring?
 

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E39 E90 E46 F10
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I'm currently testing a Nissens to destruction- I put it in at 150k, and I'm never going to change it again.

I'll let you- all know if the Nissens is tougher than stock.

;)

t
I'm running a similar experiment on an OE radiator. 180k miles and counting. I think Doug got 250k out of his.
 

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This just makes me believe that replacing it isn’t all that important.
Only one mans data point, but I let mine be while otherwise refreshing the entire system. The act of installing the brackets/hoses/ET caused a little hairline fracture on one of the joints in my radiator. So basically got it all back together for it to break just a few days later. Would have been worth the $50 upfront to not be out the car an extra couple days and screwing with draining the system again. You're doing all that work, in retrospect I should have just done mine up front.
 

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My OEM radiator was in the car until 205k miles. I replaced it with a Nissens for good measure, it’s still fine with no leaks.

I did however keep up maintenance on the cooling system regularly.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Only one mans data point, but I let mine be while otherwise refreshing the entire system. The act of installing the brackets/hoses/ET caused a little hairline fracture on one of the joints in my radiator. So basically got it all back together for it to break just a few days later. Would have been worth the $50 upfront to not be out the car an extra couple days and screwing with draining the system again. You're doing all that work, in retrospect I should have just done mine up front.
Did you replace the Expansion tank mounting bracket as well? I did some searching and found out that the bracket only has a o ring on the automatic trans. So I will not replace it unless it’s damaged.
 

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Did you replace the Expansion tank mounting bracket as well? I did some searching and found out that the bracket only has a o ring on the automatic trans. So I will not replace it unless it’s damaged.
I had to, I needed to get the manual version of it to remove the auto fluid cooler, I did a manual swap on mine, so I wanted to neaten it up.

Also the old one was really crusty and well... 19 years old. I didn’t want to take the chance of changing everything but one component, only to have to take everything out again to change it... talk about a nightmare.

EDIT: truth be told, I listen to everything the folks say on here when it comes to this type of thing, cause yeah, on another car, you could get away with it, something I learnt working on an e46, replace it with OE and if you are on the fence with replacing a part, just replace it...
 

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This just makes me believe that replacing it isn’t all that important.
There are still several variables - like weather. The hotter the weather is and the more it swings from really cold to really hot will add wear to the plastic parts. The more wear - the more brittle the plastic gets and apparently very much so for the recycled plastic in the radiator.
 

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I just replaced my radiator with a Nissens as PM at 150K on my 325xi auto. A few years back I did the et, mounting bracket, distribution pipe and bought the O-ring for the connection between the mount and the radiator. I didn't need it because the new mount came with one already installed. I did use it when I put the new radiator in. The part # for the O-ring is
17111711987.
 

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There are still several variables - like weather. The hotter the weather is and the more it swings from really cold to really hot will add wear to the plastic parts. The more wear - the more brittle the plastic gets and apparently very much so for the recycled plastic in the radiator.

AnticDubai said:
If you do not race, radiator will last 200K km easily. Proper coolant mix, properly working thermostat, healthy fan and radiator cap 1.4 bar, and you really can forget about radiator for foreseen feature.
Here in the UK the temperature is never really too hot, or too cold. My car is never really put under too much strain (I'm a 'steady Eddie' when it comes to driving). I did have the expansion tank replace 18 months ago. My car, builit in Dec 2002 now has 120,600 miles on the clock. At the time, the independant garage said that there was nothing wrong with the expansion tank that was replaced. I only changed it because of some alarming stories some people had posted on this website.

My independant garage always complements me on the conditon of my E46 Touring. I've been told not to worry about the radiator and water pump, because they're in good condition. I hope CylonRed and AnticDubai are correct.
 
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