How To Tell If Your 540's Rad/hose Is Original - BMW Forum - BimmerWerkz.com
5-Series (E12,E28, E34, E39, E60) Chat relating to the BMW 5-Series of all generations. Specific models include: BMW 518, BMW 520, BMW 520i, BMW 530i, BMW 528i, BMW 530i, BMW 518i, BMW 524d, BMW 525i, BMW 525e, BMW 528e, BMW 540i, BMW 535i, BMW 520d, BMW 525td, BMW 525d, BMW 530d, BMW 525i/xi, BMW 530i/xi. (BMW 5-Series Forum)

 
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#1 (permalink) Old 02-03-2005, 05:02 PM
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I found an interesting thread on Roadfly (http://bimmer.roadfly.org/bmw/forums/e39/6212121-1.html) where a pre-2001 upper rad hose design is shown next to the post-2001 "improved" design, which was done apparently to prevent a common catastrophic failure at a coolant tee in the older 2-piece hose.

I bought my '99 540 at 103K miles in mint condition this past October, and could find no service records regarding radiator replacement, and it all looked so virginal under the hood I figured I had all original rad/hoses, etc.

Well, thanks to those photos, I recognized the lower photo (from post-'01) as the hose set-up I have. So I went out just now and checked, and sure enough, the tee has been moved to a hard plastic "adapter" where the rubber hose connects at the engine.

For further proof that I have the updated stuff I looked at the Conti upper hose markings and sure enough it is stamped with "1Q01", which clearly indicates that it was manufactured in early 2001 and so couldn't have been original to my 10/98 car. So the original owner of my car already experienced it's "Big Radiator Blow-Up"!!

Anyone else out there with a 1997-2000 540: this is good stuff to know, especially if you've bought your car recently.

Wow how about THEM apples? So like, how long do I have to go until THIS radiator & hose fail on me? Am I good for awhile now? I guess I'll really try to squeeze that one non-responsive out-of-town dealer for more history and maybe they'll be able to tell me exactly what was replaced and when. I hate not knowing...

<span style='colorurple'>Eric S.</span>
2006 Honda Odyssey EXL-RES
2006 Honda Accord V6 EX-L Sedan
1999 BMW 540i 6-Speed (Sold to M3UOND on 9/21/06)
1991 Honda Civic Si - Occasional Beater
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#2 (permalink) Old 02-04-2005, 10:10 PM
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Eric..

Plastic necks in these radiators are weak indeed. The 528i along with your 540 seems to share the same weak point regardless of the length/shape of the upper hose. That T coupled with an extra connector has something to do with alternator cooling on some newer models. Once a flexible rubbery hose is cut in length and connected to rigid material (in this case the extra connector) it becomes less flexible; thus more stress on an already weak radiator point; that is the plastic neck of the radiator.

Mine broke twice: Once when a very fat mechanic (he is my friend don't laugh)leaned on it with his left hand while checking some vacuum hoses for a leak--shame on him. The second time when my engine got flooded; I went on to pull the hose off the neck with the clamp loose when the neck came off stuffed in the lumen of the upper hose-- shame on me.

In sum: An upgraded metal type of radiator and/or neck makes more sense; at least when it breaks I can sharpen my skills in welding/soldering and save $200 each time it breaks--Well for this one? Shame on them.

Notes for further reflections: The point about the vibration traveling from the high/low revs of the engine to the neck via the upper radiator hose sounds interesting so I like to add the following "untested remarks" for further discussions:

A. How much of this apparent engine force/stress/vibration/torque if you wish, find it way to the neck via flexible 2 hoses? Is there any?
B. I believe a shorter 2 hoses with a rigid middle connector will be more faithful in transferring much larger shocks, if there are any to begin with, to the neck than a single long flexible hose. Yes? No? used
C. When the engine mounts (save the tranny’s for now) are new/relatively new; they do their job of absorbing these repetitive/constant shocks to the neck. Once the car gets older (running rough/unstable idling/ weaker mounts etc) the neck simply gives up. Is this a far fetched argument? Or
D. Don’t forget the larger effect of the tremendous heat generated by both: the coolant (traveling inside the neck) and the engine’s on the outside—for sure there is no mercy there especially around summer times.
regards
billb
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#3 (permalink) Old 02-04-2005, 11:50 PM
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Good questions and points indeed. For my part, I am a big believer in the effects of heat cycling and age on polymers and plastics. Most of the people who commented about the broken area claimed that the plastic felt brittle and almost useless. Once heat and age embrittle a material, it becomes less flexible and so internal stresses are far greater in a dynamic environment. No wonder these things break.

Plain English - I agree with you, why not an all-aluminum fix? What a class design flaw these plastic radiators are for the V-8s. ghead

<span style='colorurple'>Eric S.</span>
2006 Honda Odyssey EXL-RES
2006 Honda Accord V6 EX-L Sedan
1999 BMW 540i 6-Speed (Sold to M3UOND on 9/21/06)
1991 Honda Civic Si - Occasional Beater
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