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Black ice...front end damaged...question on radiators, R12 freon

Discussion in 'E30 (1984-1993)' started by stevehecht, Jan 5, 2010.

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    stevehecht

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    My E30 actually is officially totaled, but it is easily salvageable. Of course I will do that. I'm now challenging the insurance company's valuation and should be able to extract additional $$$. Damage includes condenser, condenser cover, radiator, lower spoiler, front crossbar, radiator supports, maybe fogs.

    I see to remember that there are two kinds of radiators available, one having a plastic connector and the other having a metal one--the latter definitely being preferable. Is this correct? Do they have different OEM numbers? Also, I'm wondering about the freon for the AC that is now difficult to find (or illegal in some states?). Anyone know about this stuff?

    Anyway, I was fine after the accident, just psychologically traumatized. Liberty Mutual valued the car at $2475 (damage estimate=$2312). NADAguides.com came in at $3275 and Cars.com and AutoTrader.com averaged over $4000 for E30s!!! My broker told me that valuation goes by prices listed, not prices accepted (too hard to verify).
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    granthr

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    Sorry to hear you had an accident in your E30. Glad to hear you were alright though.

    Yes get it fixed! :D If it were my car I would stick with the R12 freon. The system was designed for R12 and will never really work properly with something else. Here in PA it is still possible and legal to get R12 so that is what I run. As a result I have cold AC. :D
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    MGarrison

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    Bummer Steve, glad you're ok. Afaik, E30's are not plagued by the radiator neck weakness so common to E36's; I've never suffered a failure on one of the hose connectors across 2-3 radiators since '92, anyway. If you wanted a all-metal radiator, check out Zionsville Autosport - since your car is post-'88, theirs will fit.

    http://www.zionsvilleautosport.com/store/screen/prod/store_code/6134/product_code/NP-ALLOYRAD.htm

    Also afaik, r12 is not illegal, it has just become way more expensive. Something like $65/lb vs. the $1/lb it used to be before whatever EPA regulations kicked in on it ages ago. r12 is easily available here, my mechanic's shop has no problem servicing a/c on the older cars, so just make sure your shop has the r12 reprocessing machine. I could understand why smaller shops may not have them, I saw online someplace they sell for something like $5k-$7k, as I recall.

    I also fall into the 'keep-r12' camp for the same reasons as Grant mentions. The price for r12 may sound off-putting, but don't let that deter you - the a/c system only requires 2.1 lbs of refrigerant.

    Good luck getting everything back together!
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    CRKrieger

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    They'll tell you anything. Our experience at MyE28.com has been that a selection of prices paid (not asking prices - too speculative, at least according to every other insurance company's adjusters) as few as three or four can establish a value for you. We also cooperate in providing one another the sales information when it's needed. I finally settled a total loss claim for ~$3800 plus my crashed car (a nice '88 535is 5-speed which I sold for $1K) after an initial offer of ~$1800 based on a sad 528e slushbox sold in Green Bay. Even more underhanded, I included the sales price for the car I bought as one of the comparables. :D
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    az3579

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    R12 Freon isn't really "illegal", it's just not possible to get without having some kind of certification or license. As a result, only licensed AC shops here can get it. You can't just walk into the store to buy it; there must be proof that you are qualified to handle R12.

    For radiators, I wouldn't waste my money on the aluminum radiator if it was only a daily driver or occasional Auto-x car. It's much too expensive to make it worth your while, and as the others said, the E30 radiator isn't as bad as the E36's radiators are. I've not once had a problem with my E30 radiator despite multiple track visits a year and at least 7 autocrosses, most of these events in the warmth of spring or heat of summer.
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    stevehecht

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    I don't know how I'd go about finding prices paid for cars sold in this area. Many people in New England (including me) go south/southwest/southern CA to buy theirs.
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    stevehecht

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    In the repair estimate, they're giving me an OE condenser but an aftermarket radiator. Is that acceptable? Any particular aftermarket brands to recommend?
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    Brian A

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    That is about what I paid to have my system recharged this summer here in environmentally strict California. My a/c blows real cold now, although it is brutally cold here right now (48F) so haven't used it for months.
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    MGarrison

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    Brutally Cold?!?! Say What?! Ok, I know temps are relative to what you're used to, but it was 6° here the other night, and I'm in southern Ohio, our highs for the next week aren't supposed to crack half of your high; in Minneapolis the other night it was -13°, with a high of Zero, and there were a lot of places in the north colder than that! If it was 48° here tomorrow it'd be a freakin' heat wave! The last time it was 50° here I saw at least one person driving around with their convertible top down. :p

    I try to run my a/c for at least 10-15 minutes once a month, just to circulate the freon and keep the seals lubricated, in an attempt to minimize the chance of leaks. It can be hard to remember to do that if we have a month where the temps don't go above freezing, but I try anyway. Just a thought, fyi. It's probably adequate to run the a/c without the temp set to max cold, just anything to get the compressor to run and circulate the freon.
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    MGarrison

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    Acceptable is probably something that you determine, sorta. Unless you have something ironclad with a shop, I would guess your insurance estimate is just that - they nab a list of what's wrong with the car, and give prices for replacement parts from the cheapest, fastest source they have a .00021 millisecond reference to - some sort of automated database, I'd guess. In other words, insurance adjusters probably aren't staying up late at night losing sleep poring over multiple research sources for your car's parts. The reason a oem condenser is probably listed is because there is no aftermarket alternative.

    In all likelihood, the estimate is simply how they detail the check they cut you, and it becomes up to you to work with a shop and spend the money they give you. So, is it acceptable? Depends on your standards, I suppose. I don't know what leverage you have particularly, but if you can make a compelling argument why aftermarket radiators are inferior to oem and show the insurance company why they should increase the cost amount to cover an oem radiator, then maybe they would. Review the fine print in your insurance policy, it may be that you've already contractually agreed to accept the cheapest crap for your car just by signing the policy; I say to check because I'd guess their first response would be 'that's the way it is' or 'that's our policy' or something like that. But, maybe you don't even have to do all that much - just say you won't accept anything less than oem perhaps.

    I'm a little cynical when it comes to dealing with insurance companies settling claims, so you'll have to excuse the skepticism; with any luck your experience will be all peaches and roses.
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    Brian A

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    I always wonder how you keep snow out of flipflops after the rubber gets stiff.

    (... I make big joke: I've lived my early years in very cold winters).
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    CRKrieger

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    The same goes here, especially for the more rare E28. I convinced the adjusters that the market was not regional but, due to the age and rarity of these cars, a national one. That way, I could use direct comparables of 535 and 535is models while ignoring the cheaper and less desirable 528s. I may have tried to throw in an M5, though. :rolleyes:

    Seriously, I bought my replacement out of Fort Lauderdale and I found a number of cross-country transactions with E28s, so the market is truly wider than they want to look. The AVERAGE E30 in New England these days will be like the AVERAGE E30 in Wisconsin: a rustbucket. Yours was not average; therefore, to replace it, you would be shopping outside N.E. That is what the adjusters need to know.
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    stevehecht

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    Thanks CR, that's very helpful.

    EDIT: Does anyone have a recommendation for an aftermarket manufacturer for a radiator?

    EDIT#2: I posted this question to R3VLimited and e30tech and they both came back with the same answer: Mishimoto ($239 on ebay).
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    granthr

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    My opinion, which I will give, :D take it or leave it, is this. :) Wrangle out of the insurance company the biggest check you can get from them. Give documentation as to why you think you deserve X dollars. Since they think it is totaled, then they should hand you at least $5K, right! :D

    Once you get said check. Find a reputable repair shop and have the car fixed to your level and standards. That may be less than the check or maybe it will cost you more than what they will pay you. But it will be your decision and you can decide where to cut corners. Like maybe you want all the mechanicals fixed with OEM parts and you will wait on that fender till you can find a used one. Whatever, you are in control of the repair.

    Just my 02 cents.
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    granthr

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    I would get the radiator from BMP Design, Bavarian Autosport, or Pelican Parts. It will be an OEM part for less. You want one made by Behr. I replaced the radiator in my E30 325ix this past summer. I got it from Pelican Parts, it was about $450 cheaper than the dealer. Same radiator essentially!
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    stevehecht

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    I priced the Behr on Pelican and it was only $164! That's really inexpensive, even though they're an OEM supplier. The Genuine BMW radiator is $330. Since the ins. company is giving me $212 for the radiator I would be willing to spend the extra $118 for the genuine BMW if it's worth it. Is it?
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    az3579

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    Why? It's the same part!
    Save that extra cash.
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    stevehecht

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    Save cash? I didn't know you could do that. ;)

    I'm trying to find out from R3V and e30tech if those guys think the Mishimoto has any advantages over the Behr.
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    stevehecht

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    They've increased their offer from $2475 to $3387, but I told them I wasn't satisfied with that and that I'm thinking about the "appraisal process", which is arbitration. Initially I said I would accept $3830, so we're only $443 apart. I don't think they'll fight me on that since the only local/national comparisons for my MY and mileage are over that figure and I think I coulda/shoulda asked for more.
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    az3579

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    Personally, I don't think an E30 radiator is enough of a weak point to be a concern about which radiator you choose. The stock radiators are just fine. I'd pocket the savings if I were you.

    I'd only consider an aftermarket radiator if I was gonna do some serious track work with it, and if I would consider a non-stock radiator, it would be all aluminum. To my knowledge, you autocross only occasionally, so I do not think you would really benefit from an all-aluminum radiator. The extra money you could save on a part you won't take full advantage of could be used for other repairs on the car, such as the painting of any replacement fenders you may have to get, or upgrading other components.

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