yes your right that is the path it travels in the easiest way to put it, are the parts harmful? well thats a good question, i would think not only because this is not an uncomon problem with the e36's im sure its happened a few times, and ive yet to read any threads regarding any after affects of the impeller failing. where they go im not sure, to be honest if the particles are big enough i would be worried if it might actually block or clog up the thermostat return but even than that to me sounds like a long shot. i say just keep an eye out for any issue in regards to the temperature, maybe if the peices were brittle enough they might break down in time.
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