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Pelican Technical Article:

Radiator Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

3 hours3 hrs

Tab:

$450

Talent:

****

Tools:

Set of sockets (8mm, 10mm), wrenches, screwdrivers

Applicable Models:

BMW X3 Sport Utility (2004-06)

Parts Required:

Radiator, hoses, engine coolant

Hot Tip:

Work with a cool engine.

Performance Gain:

Car will cool down again

Complementary Modification:

Change expansion tank, radiator hoses.

Maintaining the cooling system so that the engine does not overheat is a significant step toward getting engine longevity. There are many components in the BMW X3 cooling system:

  • Radiator and coolant reservoir tank.
  • Belt driven coolant pump bolted to the front of the engine block.
  • Electric cooling fan attached to front of radiator. The cooling fan is controlled by the engine control module (ECM) via an output final stage.
  • Thermostat.
  • Automatic transmission cooler or heat exchanger (if equipped).
  • Heater valve and heater core (for climate control).
  • Coolant level sensor inside expansion tank.
  • Coolant temperature sensor at cylinder head.
  • Radiator outlet temperature sensor
  • Coolant hoses and lines.

When the radiator begins to fail, you'll notice that the car tends to overheat at high engine speed; such as driving on a highway. When you accelerate, the engine temperature rises and when you idle it returns to normal range. Now, this is not always indicative of a failing radiator, but it's a good starting point.

The plastic side tanks of the radiator can crack, causing major loss of engine coolant. In that case you have to replace the radiator.

The radiator fins may also become plugged with debris causing the vehicle to run hotter than normal. This can be remedied by removing the radiator and flushing the fins with water.

In this article, I'll go over the steps involved with replacing the radiator on early BMW X3 models. Be sure to work with a cool engine and confirm the cooling system lacks pressure before opening cooling system.

Do not remove the expansion tank cap or work on any other part of the cooling system while the engine is hot. Coolant or hot steam may escape and will scald you. To do any work on the cooling system, wait until the engine has cooled off.

Keep in mind that when your car was serviced before, parts may have been replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have, so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches.

Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Do not work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.

Vehicle models change and evolve as they grow older, so the vehicle shown in our illustrations may vary slightly from yours. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

When the radiator (red arrow) begins to fail, you'll notice that the car tends to overheat at high engine speed, such as driving on highway.
Figure 1

When the radiator (red arrow) begins to fail, you'll notice that the car tends to overheat at high engine speed, such as driving on highway. When you accelerate, the engine temperature rises and when you idle it returns to normal range. Now, this is not always indicative of a failing radiator, but a good starting point. Drain cooling system. See our tech article on cooling system draining and filling.

Start by removing the four T25 Torx fasteners (red arrows) for the fresh air intake duct.
Figure 2

Start by removing the four T25 Torx fasteners (red arrows) for the fresh air intake duct. Next you will unclip the five air filter housing retaining clips. Lift them up and unhook from the lid of the intake air housing. Start with the two near the mass air flow sensor. Then release the front clips.

Once you release all the clips, lift the intake air duct (blue arrow) and pull it out of the air filter housing lid (red arrow) then remove it from the radiator support.
Figure 3

Once you release all the clips, lift the intake air duct (blue arrow) and pull it out of the air filter housing lid (red arrow) then remove it from the radiator support.

Remove cooling fan.
Figure 4

Remove cooling fan. See our tech article on radiator cooling fan replacing.

Remove the upper radiator hose and the coolant reservoir (red arrow).
Figure 5

Remove the upper radiator hose and the coolant reservoir (red arrow). See our tech article on coolant reservoir replacing.

Working at the lower left side of the radiator, pull up to release the transmission oil cooler lock (red arrow).
Figure 6

Working at the lower left side of the radiator, pull up to release the transmission oil cooler lock (red arrow).

Pull the transmission oil cooler off the radiator (red arrow).
Figure 7

Pull the transmission oil cooler off the radiator (red arrow). Be sure to replace the oil cooler sealing O-rings when reinstalling.

Working at the top left of the radiator, remove the T25 Torx fastener (red arrow).
Figure 8

Working at the top left of the radiator, remove the T25 Torx fastener (red arrow).

Working at the lower radiator hose, press the release (red arrow) and disconnect the outlet temperature sensor by pulling it straight off.
Figure 9

Working at the lower radiator hose, press the release (red arrow) and disconnect the outlet temperature sensor by pulling it straight off.

Working at the lower radiator hose, use a flathead screwdriver to lift the hose spring locks (red arrow) up until they stop.
Figure 10

Working at the lower radiator hose, use a flathead screwdriver to lift the hose spring locks (red arrow) up until they stop. Pull the hose off the radiator toward the engine. If the hose is stuck, wiggle it up and down as you pull it off. Work gently.

Working at the thermostat, use a flathead screwdriver to lift the hose spring locks (red arrow) up until they stop.
Figure 11

Working at the thermostat, use a flathead screwdriver to lift the hose spring locks (red arrow) up until they stop.

Pull the hose off the thermostat toward the right side.
Figure 12

Pull the hose off the thermostat toward the right side. If the hose is stuck, wiggle it up and down as you pull it off. Work gently.

Next, pull the left side of the radiator out of the radiator support (red arrow).
Figure 13

Next, pull the left side of the radiator out of the radiator support (red arrow).

As you pull the left side out, check that the right side isn't stuck on the A/C line fitting (red arrows).
Figure 14

As you pull the left side out, check that the right side isn't stuck on the A/C line fitting (red arrows). Push radiator to the left side to clear fitting if needed.

Next, pull the radiator out of the radiator support (red arrow).
Figure 15

Next, pull the radiator out of the radiator support (red arrow).

Remove the radiator gasket.
Figure 16

Remove the radiator gasket.

Lift the radiator up enough to gain access to the final hose on the left side.
Figure 17

Lift the radiator up enough to gain access to the final hose on the left side. Use a flathead screwdriver to lift the hose spring locks (red arrow) up until they stop. Pull the hose off the radiator toward the engine. If the hose is stuck, wiggle it up and down as you pull it off. Work gently. If the thermostat pops outs (blue arrow), snap it back into place. It is available separately if damaged or faulty.

Lift the radiator up slightly and check for snagged hoses or electrical harnesses.
Figure 18

Lift the radiator up slightly and check for snagged hoses or electrical harnesses. Then lift the radiator up (red arrow) and remove.

Once the radiator is removed, you will have to swap the transmission cooler bracket (red arrow) over to the new radiator.
Figure 19

Once the radiator is removed, you will have to swap the transmission cooler bracket (red arrow) over to the new radiator.

Working at the bottom left of the radiator, remove the T25 Torx fastener (red arrow).
Figure 20

Working at the bottom left of the radiator, remove the T25 Torx fastener (red arrow).

Working at the top left of the radiator, remove the T25 Torx fastener (red arrow).
Figure 21

Working at the top left of the radiator, remove the T25 Torx fastener (red arrow).

Working at the bottom of the radiator, unclip the plastic bracket (red arrows).
Figure 22

Working at the bottom of the radiator, unclip the plastic bracket (red arrows). Use a small flathead screwdriver to lever the tabs out (inset).

Pull the plastic bracket out of the radiator (red arrow).
Figure 23

Pull the plastic bracket out of the radiator (red arrow).

Lift the bottom of the trans cooler bracket up to detach the pipe connection (red arrow).
Figure 24

Lift the bottom of the trans cooler bracket up to detach the pipe connection (red arrow).

Slide the cooler bracket up to remove (red arrow).
Figure 25

Slide the cooler bracket up to remove (red arrow). Reverse steps to install the new radiator. Insert the new radiator into the radiator support. Install fasteners and radiator hoses. Fill and bleed cooling system. Once complete, check cooling system for leaks and top up cooling system. 

Note the debris in the cooling fins (red arrows).
Figure 26

Note the debris in the cooling fins (red arrows). If you have an overheating issue, debris trapped in the radiator will decrease the cooling capacity of the radiator.

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Page last updated: Thu 4/27/2017 03:13:30 AM