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Changing Your Coolant

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Difficulty
Changing your coolant is a pretty easy DIY. You will need to lift at least the front of the car to get the job done, but it is no means difficult, nor will it take a lot of time.

Tools Needed
Set Of Low Profile Ramps (To lift the front end of the car enough to drain the block)
Flexible Head Ratchet (This will help to loosen the engine block drain bolt, you can also get in a 1/4" ratchet as well)
3 Feet Of Flexible Hose 1.5" Diameter Or Greater (This will be used to run the coolant away from the engine block and your face and into the bucket.)
Large Phillips Screwdriver
Metric Socket Set
Large Bucket (At least 2 gallons capacity)
Funnel

Parts Needed
BMW Coolant (BMW P# 82-14-1-467-704) $16
Engine Block Drain Plug Washer (BMW P# 07-11-9-963-200) $0.35
2 Gallons of Distilled Water (These can be found at any supermarket)

Instructions

Safely lift the front of the car
1. Using a lift or a floor jack with ramps lift at least the front of the vehicle. Instructions for jacking up your car can be found here. This can be a very dangerous step, so make sure that the car is properly secured before ever getting under it. Never get under a car that is just supported by a jack!


Turn on the heater

Turn on the heater to 91 degrees at low fan speed
2. Turn the ignition on, but do not start the car. Set the heater to 91 degrees and the fan on it's lowest setting. (This will allow us to get all the coolant out of the heater core) If you are going to wait a few minutes before you refill the system, you can turn the car back off.

 


Locate the radiator fill cap

Locate radiator fill cap and loosen the bleeder screw
3. Make sure the car has cooled off! DO NOT OPEN THE FILLER CAP IF THE ENGINE IS HOT! (Hot coolant and steam will hurt when it touches your skin, and I don't think I have to say anything more) Locate the coolant fill cap and take it off.
4. Carefully loosen the bleeder screw with the large phillips head screwdriver. Since all of these parts are made of plastic they can easily be damaged.

 


Remove the splash shield


The splash shield

Remove the splash shield underneath the engine
5. Using a phillips screwdriver, loosen the screws and take off the engine cover. (Note: the screws won't come out, they will stay in place)

 


Drain screws for coolant reservoir and radiator

Locate and drain the coolant reservoir and radiator
6. Locate the two drain screws. They will be blue in color and should be almost directly under where the radiator filler cap is.
7. Place the bucket underneath the first drain plug (the one closest to the ground). Remove the screw carefully with a phillips screwdriver and let all of the coolant drain out. Once again, remember to be careful with the plastic screws so that they do not get damaged!
8. Place the bucket underneath the second drain plug. Open the screw carefully, but do not remove it, with a phillips screwdriver and let all of the coolant drain out.

 


Ratchets that will fit to remove the engine block drain bolt


The engine block drain plug


The engine block drain plug removed

Locate and drain the engine block coolant
9. Find the engine block drain plug. Look on the passengers side of the engine block before the front axle. Look at the pictures to find out if you're looking at the right bolt.
10. Place the bucket beneath the drain bolt. Using either a 1/4" ratchet or a larger pivoting head ratchet, slightly loosn the 13mm bolt until you can loosen the rest of it by hand.
11. Get the 3 feet of flexible hose and put on end into the bucket and one end over the engine block drain plug. With the hose in place, quickly remove the bolt and let the bolt and the fluid flow down the hose into the bucket. (Using the hose will prevent a huge mess being made and I highly reccomend it!)
12. Place the new washer on the bolt and tighten it until the washer is being engaged. Go a little bit further to ensure that it is snug but do not overtighten it. The torque spec is 18 ft-lbs, but I couldn't see how to get one of my torque wrenches in there.

Tighten the blue drain screws
13. Tighten down the blue drain screws by hand and then a little bit more with the screwdriver. Do not overtighten them since it is plastic and can break.

Mix the coolant with the distilled water
14. In your bucket, mix the entire gallon of BMW coolant with a gallon of distilled water. If you turned off your car, make sure it is back on 91F with a low fan speed.

Pour the new coolant into the coolant filler cap
15. Slowly poor the coolant into the coolant resevior through the filler neck using the funnel. Keep adding until you see coolant come out of the bleeder screw. (Note that the level indicator in the resevior will indicate that there is too much coolant in the system, but this is okay, it will go down after you drive it the first time.) Tighten down the bleeder screw (do not overtighten) and replace your coolant filler cap.

Turn on the car and check for leaks
16. Turn on the car and examine all of the places we worked for leaks. If there are no leaks, then take the car for a drive to bring the car up to temperature. Make sure you watch the temperature guage carefully. If the car starts to overheat, make sure you turn it off immedietly (safely of course) and rebleed the system.

After the engine cools down, check the coolant level
17. Make sure the engine is cooled down! Check the coolant level, and add so that the float's second notch is slightly below the filler neck.

Properly dispose of the old coolant
18. Be friendly to the environment and properly dispose of your coolant. Go to your local auto parts store or mechanic.

Conclusions

This is a simple do-it-yourself job and it should be completed at least every 2 years to ensure that your cooling system remains in good working order! This is an essential step in maintaining your vehicle and will keep it running for many more miles!

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