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Thread: Replacing the plastic radiator

  1. #1

    Replacing the plastic radiator

    Christian's post about radiator cleaning reminded me of the radiator issue.

    Those of you that are not “tried and tested” BMW pilots -- I’m taking about those with BMWs that are more than seven years old -- may not be aware of BMW radiator woes.

    All modern BMWs (anything built at least over the past 30 years) have plastic radiators made by BEHR of Germany; that includes our Z8s. As the plastic deteriorates from aging and heat, the radiator gets brittle; that's followed by the snapping off of one or both of the radiator necks that connect to the upper and lower radiator hoses -- typically the upper. At that point, you have coolant all over the place and at best a real big inconvenience, but at worst an overheated and possibly failed $22K s62 motor. Oh, and it will happen at the worst possible time (please don’t ask me how I know!).

    The life of the radiator is between seven and 10 years, so for those of you like me, that have the original radiator, you’re on borrowed time.

    I’m doing my biannual fluid change in anticipation of our big spring drive and replacing the radiator is one of the jobs. BTW, I replaced the coolant reservoir two years ago. That plastic tank will also fail in about seven to 10 years.

    Looks like the BMW/BEHR radiator is about $463 retail, plus tax (and labor, of course). The identical BEHR radiator is $178 plus tax from BMA. I was pleasantly surprised at how cheap they both were; that's about half what I paid last year to replace the radiator in my e24 M6 (OEM).

    I’m going with the BMW/BEHR OEM unit to keep the car “original,” but there is no downside to the BEHR unit in terms of quality. I do advise staying away from the cheaper Nissens units.

    If anyone has any questions or need DIY tips, feel free to email ([email protected]) directly.
    C.A. Cardenas (AKA Dan)
    2003 (last one?) Z8 - Hellrot / Sport Rot
    Original Owner - Munich Tourist Delivery
    -- Others --
    1988 M6 - 32K mi. - Original Owner
    1989 DINAN 750iL - 73K mi. - Original Owner
    1998 M3 - 63K mi. - Original Owner
    2015 X5 (F15) Diesel - Daily Driver

  2. #2
    Z8 Ate My Homework! Norcal's Avatar
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    Nov 2002
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    Thanks for the heads up Carlos. That should be on the 10 year maint. List. My wife's 97 740i had that problem in 06 with only 35000 mi on the car! Seems like such a stupid idea... A plastic radiator (partially)! I'll get mine swaped out next trip to PP.

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