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BMW Radiator Replacement

Pelican Technical Article:

BMW Radiator Replacement


2-3 hours






Fan removal tool, 32mm wrench, Philips head screwdriver, flatblade screwdriver, set of metric wrenches, catch bucket

Applicable Models:

BMW E36 3-Series (1992-99)

Parts Required:

Fan removal tool, radiator replacement kit with hoses and clamps, new coolant

Performance Gain:

A cool running engine

Complementary Modification:

Replace the water pump and thermostat
101 Performance Projects for Your BMW 3 Series

This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Wayne's new book, 101 Performance Projects for Your BMW 3 Series. The book contains 272 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to timing the camshafts. With more than 650+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any 3 Series owner's collection. The book was released in August 2006, and is available for ordering now. See The Official Book Website for more details.

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Proper maintenance of your coolant will go a long way towards extending the life of your radiator. The cooling systems on most cars are often very neglected, as most owners don't know much about them. See the Pelican Technical Article on Cooling System Flush & FAQ for more information. The most vulnerable components in the entire system are the radiator and the heater core, as they tend to be damaged by corrosion and electrolysis. Poor maintenance of the system can result in the build-up of corrosion elements in both the radiator and heater core, creating clogs and leaks that decrease cooling performance.If the engine overheats, the additional heat from the coolant can also damage sensitive plastic attachments and components.

When replacing your radiator, you want to make sure that you replace it with one that meets or exceeds the OEM cooling standards. BMW cooling systems are infamous for overheating problems. Therefore, it may be a wise idea to install an aftermarket performance radiator that performs a better job of cooling than the standard OEM one. I also recommend replacing your water pump, radiator hoses, thermostat, and any hose clamps too. All of these components can be damaged by a cooling system that has overheated. It's also a good time to swap out your old belts.

Okay, the first step in replacing your radiator is to remove all of the coolant from the system. See the Pelican Technical Article on Cooling System Flush & FAQ for more information. Now, we need to gain access to the radiator. Remove the front plastic panel that covers the front inside part of the engine compartment (Figure 1). Four screws hold this panel to the car. Now, it's time to remove your cooling fan. You will need a 32mm wrench, and a special fan removal tool (Figure 2). Unfortunately, I have not found an easy method of removal that does not require the use of this tool. The tool holds the two pulley nuts enabling you to remove the fan pulley nut (Figure 3). Holding the fan pulley steady with the tool, twist and remove the fan nut (Figure 4 and Figure 5). It is important to note that this nut has reverse threads, and needs to be turned clockwise to loosen it (Figure 6).

Now, you need to remove the fan frame with the integrated reservoir. The cooling fan housing frame is held in with small plastic rivets (Figure 7). Pop these out to loosen the frame from the radiator (Figure 8). You will have to disconnect the overflow hose prior to removing this frame (Figure 9). Also attached to the frame is the reservoir overflow hose. This hose winds around to the left side of the car, and needs to be disconnected near the power steering pump (Figure 10). This hose is shown disconnected in Figure 11. Now, disconnect the coolant level sensor (Figure 12). With all of these hoses and connectors disconnected, you should be able to remove the fan frame / reservoir from the car (Figure 13).

With the frame out of the way, now disconnect all of the hoses that are linked to the radiator. There are two large hoses, one on the top left side of the car, and one on the lower right. Loosen the hose clamp on the top left hose (Figure 14), and then pull it away from the thermostat housing (Figure 15). Figure 16 shows both sides of this hose. Now, disconnect the lower radiator hose on the right (Figure 17). Then, remove the electrical connector for the radiator temperature sensor (Figure 18).

With the hoses disconnected, now disconnect the automatic transmission lines, if you have an automatic transmission in your car (Figure 19). See the Pelican Technical Article, Replacing Automatic Transmission Lines for more details.

The radiator is held onto the chassis of the car with odd, complicated plastic clips. These are very difficult to remove, and you may end up breaking them when getting the old radiator out (Figure 20 and Figure 21). Using a screwdriver in the center of the clip, pry it out from the chassis and the radiator. You may have to play with these clips for a short while to remove them. With the clips removed, the radiator should no longer be attached to the car (Figure 22), and can be easily lifted up and out of the engine compartment. Figure 23 shows the radiator removed from the car. The small radiator attached to the center of the main radiator is the automatic transmission cooler. Make sure that you have a catch bucket (kitty litter boxes work very well) to capture all of the excess coolant and automatic transmission fluid that will spill out (Figure 24).

Figure 25 shows what the engine compartment looks like with the radiator removed. When you install your new radiator, or reinstall your old one, make sure that it sits firmly on the rubber mounts attached to the chassis (Figure 26). It is possible to install it slightly cocked if you don't pay attention to these mounts. Figure 27 and Figure 28 show the radiator reinstalled in the car. If you damaged your plastic clips removing the radiator, be sure to replace them with new ones. Reattach all of the hoses and connections. Use new hoses on the large upper and lower radiator hoses. If your clamps look worn, then replace them while you're in there too. Only use clamps specifically designed for large rubber hoses - some generic hose clamps can cause chaffing on the rubber when tightened. Then button up the front cover (Figure 29). Replace all of the coolant and bleed the system according to the Pelican Technical Article on Cooling System Flush & FAQ.

Well, there you have it - it's really not too difficult at all. If you would like to see more technical articles like this one, please continue to support Pelican Parts with all your parts needs. If you like what you see here, then please visit our online BMW catalog and help support the collection and creating of new and informative technical articles like this one. Your continued support directly affects the expansion and existence of this site and technical articles like this one. As always, if you have any questions or comments about this helpful article, please drop us a line.

Peter Pesce adds:

Thanks for the great articles and tips, keep them coming.

One comment on your "BMW Radiator Replacement" article: You do NOT need to remove the cooling fan or shroud/frame to replace the radiator in an E36 coupe (1993 325is in my case). I just replaced mine this weekend, and had no problem getting the old one out and the new one in. It took me a couple hours, doing it outside in the driveway in 40 deg weather.

It would be good to note this in your article, as the plastic necks on E36 radiators are a common failure point (mine failed there) so a lot of people are doing this particular job, by choice or necessity! You might also note that you can swap out the main upper and lower radiator hoses with the fan and frame in place as well.

Thanks, and keep up the good work.

Peter Pesce
New York. NY

Comments and Suggestions:
Al Comments: A new radiator top clip purchased from Pelican is giving me a rough time. The stiffness is hard to overcome when installing it to the car itself. My next move is to apply heat from a hair dryer. However, I will need another hand to hold the dryer. Wish me luck.
February 3, 2018
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Can you share a photo of the part you are struggling with? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Victor Comments: I had a question, when tightening my fan clutch. How tight are we supposed to tighten it? Because I replaced my fan clutch and the removal seemed way to easy with very minimal force to break free. But I noticed when i placed the fan clutch back in, in the same orientation and tighten it down quite a bit that the blade was scraping against the top radiator hose and seems louder than needed when car first starts.
February 21, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Hmmm something is not lined up correctly. The fan clutch does not need to be very tight. Make sure that if you removed the fan blade from the clutch that it is mounted properly and not backwards. - Casey at Pelican Parts  
Byjingoes Comments: I have a radiator leaking problem on my 97 E36 M3 and have removed and replaced it with a spare radiator that has come from 318i BMW model no idea of year but looks similar the radiator from this is about a third smaller than my M3 model. It is fitted in the car presently and doesn't leak but we noticed it shows an overheat slightly over the half way mark of the gauge. it ok to have this radiator in the M3?
February 14, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No. BMW engineers spend time developing the parts for the M cars, not so much on the non M cars. Do your M3 a favor and give it the cooling capacity it deserves! - Casey at Pelican Parts  
LypsylateX Comments: It's possible to remove the fan on an E36 without the fan removal tool if you got a car that hasn't been driven on salty roads. My twenty year old car here in Sweden hasn't, which is amazing in itself.

A 32mm wrench and a rubber mallet. Remeber the threads are the wrong way around. Took me ten or so blows.
August 5, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: This method works here too, somtimes.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Liz Comments: Thanks for your site Nick,
I just have to find your equivalent down under in Melbourne Australia. The next Mechanic, that says my overheating 318i E36 08/1995, needs a new thermostat or hoses or water pump...I will slap them, they have all been replaced!!!! Still has original Radiator & no one has even hinted that it could be the problem. I am putting my money on the Rad, coolant sensor etc etc.
It costs an arm & a leg to have a euro car worked on here + the $$$ of parts.
But a pet is for life... so is a Beemer.
How much can a Koala much as a Peli can.
Cheers Liz
March 23, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Have them show you the issue. Is it easy to determine if the radiator is restricted or if the thermostat isn't opening. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Wilson Comments: What kind of fan tool do I need to remove the radiator on my automatic E30 325i 1989?
February 22, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: YOu will need a fan wrench and the pulley counterholing tool. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what tool part numbers you need, there are a few options. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Kourtnee Comments: Great write up! So a few weeks ago after i changed the thermostat on my car i forgot to put the fan shroud back on correctly and my fanblade exploded on it and cut the radiator to expansion tank line. So i changed that line and rebled the system and started the car but i was still leaking coolant but only after the car warmed up. Coolant was flying on the fanblade and flying all around under the hood. Mostly on the driverside. So looking at my radiator it has dents on it so i was thinking maybe a hole in it? Checked the line under the radiator it was intact. The thermostat housing isnt leaking so i was out of ideas? Should i just change the radiator? Or is there some secret line?
May 25, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It's likely the radiator is damaged. Best way to tell is have it pressure tested to locate the leak. This way you don't replace a part that isn't needed. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Victor jaamamq Comments: Ihave top gasket after aweek the start cutv while is moving the ohner o
The said i must remove top sensor plug
The car start moving alright and after a week the car is showimg eml on dashboard then it started cutting the then i have replace all the sensor but petrol ok and ther is no spark

May 12, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If you have no saprk, confirm you have injector pulse. If you do, the dme may be faulty. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
May 12, 2015
grandpa 1 Comments: I have 2006 325i 3.0 changing radiator and get new one to line up in clips right any suggestions
April 25, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: See this tech article: - Nick at Pelican Parts
push Comments: Is safe to install a 318 petrol BMW radiator in a 320d manual BMW?
March 11, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Only if the part numbers match. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
DennisAz Comments: It's a real good idea to inspect the coolant level sensor while you have the radiator out. It's almost impossible to replace this sensor with the radiator installed so you might as well replace it while you have the opportunity. I've attached a before-and-after picture of my sensor.
October 21, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Pete Kim Comments: I just wanted to share how I did it without removing the automatic transmission lines as mine were not leaking.

But it does sort of require the fan clutch to be removed first, unless you have one of those ratcheting wrenches you need the clearance from removing the fan to take off the lower bolts.

My fan clutch also needed replacement as well anyways.

September 15, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
krwash Comments: i,m saed from oman 00968 thank you so so much for your information about the bmw 1995 320i how to replace clutch fan
it,s best information thanks so so much .
saed ali
April 19, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Mycheal Comments: I have a e38 1999 740i and everyone once in a while I see steam/fluid shooting out of the upper right of the radiator by the nipple. So I don't know weather it is the nipple that I need to replace the nipple the radiator is around 2 years old and the temp gauge doesn't say it's over heating.
The picture attached is where the steam and fluid is coming out that is not my car
March 24, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You may have a leaky side tank. I would pressure test the cooling system. This will help pinpoint the leak. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Buster Comments: Just changed the radiator in my wife's 98 328i convertible with an automatic transmission. I tried to buy a radiator off an eBay site before it completely blew out but they told me there were different radiators depending on if it was an automatic or standard. The radiator there was like $60 bucks versus the 120$ I paid at AutoZone. Turns out it is the same radiator, just needed to remove the transmission cooler from the old one and drill holes to put it on the new one. I did not remove the fan or any other components, just got the fan housing out of the way and wiggled the radiator up and out. I think that saved a lot of time not having to take the fan off. Also, the clips on top that hold the radiator on. Just take a small flathead screwdriver, wiggle it down between the opening and those clips pop right open. Here's a link I found

Thanks for the info on changing the radiator.
February 18, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No problem, next time, consider purchasing your parts at to support tech articles like the one you used. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
broke and confuse Comments: I own a honda odyssey, a few months ago I found a crack on my radiator where the plastic and the metal parts were merge together. I was guessing its cause by excessive pressure, so I change the radiator and the thermostat. About 2 days later my radiator started leaking again; its the same old problem had cracked. I'm trying to figure out whats causing it and how could I solved this problem.
November 19, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The radiator cap is the component in your system that regulates excessive pressure. I suspect that yours is defective, and I would replace it immediately. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
MGH Comments: 2004 E46 radiator replaced along with thermostat, hoses, reservoir 3 months ago and fresh coolant... All is well.. No leaks and operating temperature is right on... BUT... The check engine light is on following the replacement ... Will this clear, or can you provide suggestions as to why it may have triggered a code.. Thanks
November 11, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It may be a coincidence. I cannot comment as to why it is on or if it will clear without knowing the fault code that is stored.

If it is due to something you did and the fault is not longer present, it should clear in two drive cycles where the fault is not present. Of course the monitor for that component has to run during the drive cycles.- Nick at Pelican Parts
bosco Comments: hello. how to remove cylinder head bmw 528i how to proces.
November 5, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would grab a repair manual. It will list the special tools and each step of the procedure. Give our parts specialists a call: 1-888-280-7799 They will help you find what you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Mike Comments: The after market head I bought for my 97 bmw 528i has fewer cooling ports then the old one! Is this safe to install?
October 18, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would think not. However check with the manufacturer of the head, it may be a redesign. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Geet Comments: I noticed this article mentions nothing about changing out the radiator reservoir. Is this fairly straightforward once you have everything off anyways? I have a crack in my radiator & reservoir so I need to replace both. Also, I saw it isn't part of the radiator kit, do you offer this part?
September 26, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback, I agree it should be changed at the same time. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right part. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
saneesh8 Comments: The upper radiator hose just came out at the radiator. Put it back and filled it with distilled water. Drove back home 8 miles. Replaced both hoses OEM and also the water pump Saleri as PM. Reused the clamps. Old pump was in excellent shape and hose was worn. Anyway put coolant back and drove it today morning at 84F. No AC was On. After 8 miles almost same distance, the hose came out again. Again filled with distilled water and drove it back home and came to office in the other car. Luckily both the time, as soon as the coolant started coming out, i found it stopped car. So car never got overheated. Both times, i had to put close to 1 gallon distilled water to fill it.

What can cause this?

1 Some thing blocked in the radiator
2 Bad clamp?
3 Radiator neck is bad?

Hoses, Thermostat and Water pumps are new.
August 5, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The radiator is damaged. The neck for the hose to mount on should be twice as long as what is pictured. You have to replace your radiator. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Goatherder Comments: Here's how I remove the fan: Place a 1-1/4" open-end wrench on the fan nut and twist it until it's vertical. its a big wrench, the closed end sticks up above the engine Whack the end sticking up with a short chunk of 2x4. Move the wrench back to vertical and do it again. The fan belt will provide enough grab that a few impacts will break the fan loose. Be careful not to let the wrench impact anything important.

I've had multiple E36's - this works every time.
April 14, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the tip. Just be careful not to damage anything in your engine compartment, the wrench could slip and comein contact with many components. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Bob1950 Comments: I have a98 Z3 1.9l that is losing coolant from what looks like a cracked coolant tank on the bottom drivers left side around where it rests on the mount. This car is new to me but it does not have a mechanical fan set up but rather an electrical fan set up with two fans , one in front of the other. In front of the main radiator is another smaller rad which I assume must be for the transmission ? As there is no mechanical fan clutch assembly am I correct in assuming that in order to replace the radiator it's just a case of removing the fans to get the rad out. Should I go with the standard OEM replacement rad or is there a better after market performance one. Thanks...
January 19, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You are right about removing the fan, the coolant reservoir will have to be removed also.

I would go with am OEM style radiator, unless you need a performance model. Only you would know what style of driving you do. - Nick at Pelican Parts
January 5, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check if the fitting at the radiator is leaking. It could look like a hose leak but be the raditor itself. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
C Myers Comments: My quick and dirty method for fan removal is a little safer than the other two mentioned below: Place the closed end of a 10mm wrench on one of the slightly loosened pulley nuts. Place the closed end of a 12mm wrench on the open end of the 10mm wrench for more leverage. Rotate the pulley so that the nut is above and to the right of the fan nut, and turn the wrenches so the 10mm wrench is against the top of the fan shaft. Press down on the end of the 12mm wrench with left hand, use right hand to press down on large crescent wrench or whatever, to loosen fan nut clockwise. PB Blaster would probably help too, but I didn't need any. Happy wrenching...
February 27, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
jay Comments: Bmw318ti overheating changed themostate,and tempter switch top hose get hot and bottom hose is cold no fluids in oil are leaks.what should I do next.also had heater on and cold air was blowing
January 3, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You may have air trapped in the system try bleeding your cooling system. If it still overheats, you may have a faulty water pump. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Jerry Comments: I have a 98 528i that the radiator neck broke gave way on my wife was driving and she says she pulled over immediately when the steam came out. I replaced radiator, water pump, fan clutch, thermostat/housing, coolant tank and cap. We bled the system and it was cool for about two weeks but I noticed a smell and then I checked the fluid and the tank was close to empty. I put more fluid in it and the next day it overheated. I opened the bleed screw and steam came out. Tightened it back down and it was cool but now the fluid is down again. I am not sure how the system works but I drove it and then checked the fluid and it was nearly empty but then came bubbling up. Someone said I may have a small leak in my head gasket but I don't see any steam at all.
January 1, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The same thing happened on my 1998 528i, but I was driving, not my wife! It sounds like you have an air bubble still in your car. Take a look at my bleeding procedure - you might have to do it 4-5 times to get all of the air out. See the article here: - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
WildFire Comments: Hello Wayne,

I think i'm cursed or something. I just recently replaced my radiator using your DIY. My original radiator's upper hose broke off last year. Everything went fine with the replacement. It's been a few months and I noticed that it was dripping a little coolant after i turned the car off a few ago. nothing major. I was changing my oil today and thought i'd tighten the hoses to see if that would stop the leak. I started with the Expansion tank hose. As I was Tightening, the Nipple broke off. Am I totally screwed?
November 13, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not totally, you just have to replace the expansion tank. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
EdwinBigPapa Comments: 1997 BMW 328i

Ok I recently went to a shop yesterday to have my radiator replaced picked up the car later that evening and now the transmission slips from first to second gear and back at times not common but does it. Car didn't do that at all before was smooth as smooth can be. Car was babied, could disconnecting the automatic transmission line when removing radiator cause this?
November 2, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would check the fluid level, it is possible they didn't tip it up during the repair. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Huntly86 Comments: Hello all - I have a 2004 325 and although my temp gauges don't show an overheat, my dashboard coolant sensor comes on randomly. I popped the radiator cap and it is full bright green. Do I have a faulty sensor? Does the sensor come on before an actual overheat? Suggestions? thank you!!
October 19, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It could be your coolant level sensor. I would confirm this is the message you are getting, then check if the sensor is faulty. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Michael Comments: Does anyone have a part # for a radiator on a 1998 BMW 323i V6 4D Sedan? I cracked it while driving on the Autobahn. This is a US Spec Bimmer. I have looked for a radiator but there are many for this class and I do not want to get the wrong one.
October 18, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right part.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Kline Comments: I have a e39 and Ian having problems the coolant system pressure does not drop down even after 7 hours I have changed the cap , water pump , radiator , every thing works it does not overheat wat
Can it be, ? Could the over flow be blocked
September 5, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would check the cooling system for combustion gas (co2). you may have a slight head gasket leak causing system pressure to build. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
pgteena Comments: Hi
We are in dire need of assistance. We took my car to the desert to go camping yes, we now know probably not the appropriate traveling vehicle and bottomed out. We lost the cowling plastic covering underneath?, the radiator shifted and this fan lost blades. We aren't sure which fan to buy to replace and also any advise on trying to restore my baby back to running. It overheats now, seems like there is something that wont turn off behind the stereo. My job is to get the parts and advise, I do have someone who will attempt to fixing my baby if it's doable. Any help is super appreciated!

Picture of where we think the hoses are disconnected, however I have a feeling it's a cracked radiator. Any opinions or advise is truly appreciated

And here's the spot where the radiator was steaming pressure? Our guess is the hoses got knocked loose or the radiator part is cracked there.
August 4, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Looks like the side tank on the radiator is leaking. I would replace the radiator. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right part.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
KCAingeorgia Comments: Wayne you should tag Richard H. input dated June 15, 2010 to the bottom of your article. Those clips are up there with the pin that goes through the Delron bushings on the shifter if you know not what you’re doing. Under line small slots and arrow Also a casual mention to check for possible grommets where the clips attach to the radiator as mentioned by another poster might be a good hint. I am at work now but did this job yesterday & could not get it tight. I can’t wait to get home and look at the old one too see.
July 22, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Georgia Comments: I am looking to replace my 2000 bmw 328i radiator myself. Is the article I should use as a guide and is there anything I should know about buying the radiator and hoses.
July 11, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: This tech article should help you out: - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Roofus Comments: I recently replaced my radiator with an aftermarket aluminum mishimoto radiator. Does anyone know how to attach the radiator to the fan shroud. The plastic rivets are too big and the radiator appears to have some holes threaded for machined screws, however it did not come with any...Thanks
June 11, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You might be able to use a plastic anchor. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right part.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
darkaegisagain Comments: You don't need to fully drain the coolant and you don't need the fan removal tool... its good to know that the fan is a reverse thread. I left the belts on and put an crescent wrench on the big ole fan nut I don't have the 32mm wrench and gave it a couple of sharp wacks with a hammer and broke the nut free. I drained the coolant as I took stuff off into a large paint pan under the car and dumped that into a 5 gallon bucket for disposal later. I never completely filled the paint pan and I never lifted the car onto jacks either.

As noted just cut the belts, I was going to replace them regardless. Did you ever wonder what that funny looking 17 mm wrench was for in your tool kit? It fits the belt tensioner just right.

Take the air cleaner assembly off... theres much more room with it out.

It takes about 90 minutes to do all the belts and the pump, the pump comes out a little tight with the washer so you have to wiggle it for a bit but it will come out.

I would call this a level 2.5, its not that hard.

The longest process is filling the coolant back up, that takes about 8-10 minutes with bleeding the line at the coolant tank.
June 1, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
joe Comments: anyone out there kind enought to send me a photo of the vacuum lines and were ther go to a 1991 bmw 318is with m42 engine
May 24, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check the emission label under your hood, a lot of time there is a hose diagram on it. If your vehicle is missing the label, I would grab a repair manual. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
rob Comments: my 318is has no tensioner its a direct belt off my alt... my belt runs my alt,waterpump,and crank , also power steering and air con have there own belt... no tensioner
May 1, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Ron Walker Comments: Hi, I have a bmwz3 1997 2.8 man roadster, and seek the following information. Can I take radiator out without removing air cleaner box and upsetting EM system thus needing resetting. As per instructions from Bentley service manual, Thanks Ron.
April 30, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm pretty sure the air filter housing will have to be removed. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
joe90 Comments: Hi, I purchased a 325 air con rad bigger for my 325 track car, The new rad has the two brass fitting, I assume for the air con. Is it safe to just block these off, as mine has no aircon. Cheers
April 5, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, some of the cars with air conditioning have a separate section built-in for the A/C cooling. You should indeed just block these off and you will be fine. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
1994_e36_318is_M42 Comments: Hi, I drive a 1994 318is with an M42 engine and I need to replace the leaking water pump but my car is a little different than that described above:
1. Removing the plastic cover only reveals the radiator. The fan is surrounded by a second plastic "air tunnel" pictures 1 and 2 that is held in place onto the radiator with plastic pins on each side picture 3. How do I remove these pins? I suspect they are a one time use and need to be replaced as well?
2. The water pump belt is not held by a tensioner, it is directly held to the engine. Will removing the 3 bolts off the water pump pulley pictures 4 and 5 release the belt?
January 3, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It looks pretty much the same to me, in the article I had already removed the fan and the housing around the fan (see the radiator removal article). The plastic rivets should be only used ones - simply pry them up with a screwdriver. The water pump belt is not "directly held to the engine" - one of the pulleys is indeed a tensioner - see the tensioner article for more clarity. As for the water pump, it is indeed held on with nuts/studs/bolts. Simply remove them and then you should be able to tap off the water pump with a rubber mallet. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
rakhi Comments: Hi, I have a 2004 BMW 325ci 96k miles, I got a sign for coolant in the dashboard, brought the car to the dealer. They have quoted me $1200. Leakage is only in the lower radiator hose, but they recommend changing the upper radiator hose, radiator, expansion tank, and the thermostat. I know a mechanic who works out of his house and thinking that he can do the work for me for less labor. what would you recommend that I must get done, do I need to replace all the parts that the BMW dealership is recommending? What would you recommend replacing? I see a lot of comments about bleeding the coolant flush and air in the radiator can cause permanent damage to the engine. Should I just suck it up and pay the dealer since they have the right equipment to pressurize? Thank you so much!
October 14, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds excessive. Replace the hose or tank with the leak and then rebleed the system. We have all the tech articles on it here. I would probably avoid the dealer if that's an option. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
zjcov Comments: Yeah, upon further inspection, these don't appear connected to the main system. I just left them alone and my BMW seems to be running fine. Thanks!
September 12, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the follow up. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
zjcov Comments: Question regarding the install. I have a 1996 328is, and my old radiator does not have the brass fittings on the left side of the radiator as yours clearly shows in picture 24. My new radiator does, however. What am I supposed to do with these? Cap them off? Connect them to something/together? Your walkthrough doesn't address this and I could use some guidance here. Thanks!
September 12, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't remember there ever being an issue with those, I think those are just plugs that are used for something else (not on this car). The brass fittings are plugs, I believe (can't recall exactly). Inspect your new radiator to see if they are indeed just plugs, and if yet, then simply leave them alone is what I would suggest. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Paul Comments: If you don't need to replace the water pump, you can replaced the radiator without removing the fan. In my case I had just replaced the water pump and belts less than 6 months ago. The radiator finally went! Just unbolt the transmission cooler, take the hoses loose move the fan shroud up over the fan and out of the way. Undo the radiator clamps and pull it out! Very easy.
September 4, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the Info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
fastskeetie Comments: i clicked on radiator fan replacement and all i see is radiator replacement i am trying to replace a water pump on a 735il 91 bme cannot get the fan off help
August 7, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: See Figures 2-6 of this article here. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
jack Comments: I also had trouble getting top plastic clips snug when replacing the radiator on my 1992 325i. I finally noticed that there were rubber inserts in the slots into which the clips connect on the old radiator and these were not supplied with the replacement. When I transferred the rubber inserts, the problem was solved.

Also, note that the wire connections to the coolant level sensor plug which slides onto the prongs at the bottom of the overflow reservoir are pretty fragile. Take care when you disconnect and secure out of the way to avoid breaking.
August 6, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Richard H Comments: This is the easiest removal I've had in a loooong time, but I didn't follow the instructions. To just do the radiator, and since I just replaced the water pump and belts that's all I needed to do, follow these instructions:

1. Remove the fan shroud with a #2 Phillips screwdriver.
2. Disconnect the hoses and single sensor that's on the radiator itself.
3. Using a long, thin screwdriver, remove the radiator clips at the top of the radiator. Push the screwdriver from the top, into the small slot that has a big arrow pointing to it. Push down at least an inch, and pull the screwdriver handle towards the front of the car. Youtube has a DIY that shows it all.
4. The radiator slides right out of the car. No pulley or fan shroud removal necessary.
June 15, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Cool. Thanks for the additional tips! - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
algernone Comments: had above problems but i need to know is there a pressure release on the expansion bottle cap?
April 24, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: In general, radiator caps are designed to blow off if they encounter a higher than normal pressure. However, on the BMWs, I believe that the bleeder screw is designed to accomplish this and blow off if the pressure gets too high. But I'm not entirely sure... - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
biddy Comments: 323i 2.5 straight 6 car runs fine with temp mid way but when left idling for 20 mins approx temp starts rising and hoses stiffen could it be had gasket or the plastic water pump problem. heater took a while to blow hot too
April 11, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: This could be an overheating problem starting. I would inspect the cooling system for proper flow, you should see coolant squirting out of the bleeder hole in the coolant reservoir.- Nick at Pelican Parts  
HotBeamer Comments: Hi there I would really appreciate some help as i have an over heating problem...somehow while driving down the rd the other day i heard an awful noise from under hood of my 95 320i.following that the temp started rising.took a look and somehow the fan had hit the plastic housing around the radiator causing the housing to move towards engine thus blocking fan from moving and breaking one of the propellers off along with that the hose running along top of radiator was pulled off the filling side nozzel..what do I do?? what caused it? is my water pump stuffed? why would the fan ever hit that plastic thing? was it loose? is the viscous coupling stuffed? any help will be very much appreciated
March 23, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like your water pump has failed. I would remove the shroud and cooling fan. Once removed, inspect the water pump for play. You will likely have to replace the water pump and whatever parts were damaged during the failure. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Ramon Comments: Hello
recently changed the radiator on my bmw e36 325i and the problem I have is that the computer always giving me this check level coolant can help me and tell me that I do or I did wrong or that the damage
March 7, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check that the coolant level sensor in your reservoir is plugged in. If you find it plugged in, it might be faulty and sending the incorrect signal. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
bogamilsan Comments: Do you have to replace the auto transmission fluid that leaked out? There's no mention of this..
January 19, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes. You have to top up the fluid in your auto trans when done. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
emaassen Comments: How do you get the '98 E39 528i radiator out. You cannot pull it up since the mounting bosses interfere with the power steering cooling line on the drivers side LHD and the AC condenser line on the passenger side. there is not enough room to tun it diagonal to clear the mounting bosses. Do I have to take it out the bottom?
October 20, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I have a 1998 E39 528i that I recently replaced the radiator on. With a bit of wiggling, you should be able to pull it out from the top. Be sure that you remove the fan shroud and fan, and then you should have enough room. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Tom Comments: So where do I get this Fan Removal Tool?
September 17, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The fan removal tool is available right here: - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Synenergy52 Comments: Anyone know how to get those top clips on the radiator nice and snug? My photos look exactly like the ones above and i'm almost sure the clip is installed right. The radiator still wiggles and i can lift it 1/4 of an inch. It doesnt seem the clips are doing their job. Not nice and snug at all! I bought new clips actually new everything from PP. Whole install went smoothly, it just bugs me that the radiator is still kind of loose. And yes the radiator is seated securely on top of its mounts... almost seems the radiator is too low or something.
September 2, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: There's a trick to these, you just have to wedge them in there. Every time I do this too, it takes me a couple of tries to get it right. Take a close look at the photos and they should help guide you. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Wes Comments: I managed without the "special tool" while replacing the water pump, thermostat, belts, etc... on my '98 328i which requires removal of all the radiator and fan components.

I used an 8" screwdriver locking rotation by way of the pully's axel and at least one of the screw heads. Then with some BP blaster applied to loosen the threads and a long wrench on the fan bolt I was able to get the fan loose, and then back on nice and tight. I may have been lucky as you point out, but it seems effective to me so thought I would share.

Thanks for the great articles PelicanParts! :
July 26, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I've done this many times, and each time I'm glad that I have the tool right there, as I did try it once without the tool. That was not a fun day. :) - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Marcelo Comments: My radiator broke in the same place, un the neck of the supeiror house, after I mounted back everything, the car raised the temp again, now, I am checking water pump and termostat, is that comun problem, is another due that I am there now?
July 1, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sure, it's a wise idea to replace the water pump and thermostat while you're in there. I did that when my 5-Series broke the neck on the radiator. There are articles on this in our tech articles section too. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
BioDoc Comments: I just discovered that the plastic clips that hold the radiator in place is actually very easy to remove, if you know the trick. On the underside of the clip where it hooks underneath the chasis there is a tab. Hold the tab with your finger, then pry the top side as shown in fig. 20 and 21 with a screwdriver. The clip should pop off with minimal effort and no breakage whatsoever.
Also, I found the belt-driven fan came off very easily without the special tool. I just put a large pair of adjustable pliers on the nut and turned - didn't have to hold anything in place. It almost felt like I could have just turned it by hand. So it would be advisable to check whether the tool is actually needed before ordering it.
By the way, this was on an E36 sedan with the M52 motor 1997 328i.
June 29, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Your fan must have been on very loose. The fan is a viscous clutch mechanism, and there is no way to counter-hold it except by the bolts that attach it to the water pump. Either way, you definitely need the tool, as you cannot tighten down the fan nut to the proper torque without (even if you can get it off with some channel locks). - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Anthony Comments: I got one end of the house to connect to the overflow tank on the radiator, but i don't know where its other end is connected to?the tube was disconnected before I checked my car. I haven't been able to drive my car for the past few days and it sucks
June 29, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Send me a photo - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
A thony Comments: I did, but it doesn't show where the other end goes?Can you please help me?
June 29, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The very small hose connects to the overflow tank on the radiator. The larger hose that winds around connects to a connection with a hose clamp, located underneath the throttle body area. I believe you can see that hose in this photo: - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Anthony Comments: Hi, i've been trying to find where the overflow house plugs into for the past got disconnected in my car and it started to you know where the two ends go?
June 28, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: See here for a bunch more photos on the replacement: - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Old guys garage Comments: This works in the absence of the BMW tool. Place a slot screw driver on the corner of nut facing the drivers side fender. Strike the handle of the screwdriver shaply with a hammer. Acts like an impact driver and loosens the nut Turn the fan and the clutch clockwize and the whole assembly comes off. I have done this sucessfully 6 times with no failures. Perhaps I am lucky but for me it works.
June 11, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I think you may be lucky. The amount of force required to remove the fans on my cars was quite large. I also recently had one customer complain that he cracked his pulley after he couldn't figure out how to use the tool. On that note - keep in mind that the tool only fits one way on the nuts - you need to rotate the fan to find the two bolts that fit in the hole and the slot. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
vo1tage Comments: you can unbolt the trans cooler and prop it up with a jack stand. then there is no need to pull that off and check/fill the tranny fluid level. i think there were only 2 or 4 little bolts holding it in. be careful to prop it up so it dont fall over. i did my radiator in about an hr and it cost me about $110 from a local whole seller
May 30, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Chipyting Comments: Peter is 100% correct, you don't need to remove the fan, the radiator slides right if after the fan shroud has been loosened.
May 8, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Indeed, I suppose that is true, but it only takes 3 minutes to remove the fan (with the fan removal tool), and that makes it a lot easier to change the belts (which I would assume one would probably be doing when they changed out the radiator). When I replaced the radiator on my 528i due to the cracking problem, I replaced the water pump, belts, thermostat and all of the hoses at the same time. Highly recommended if you're already in there. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  

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