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Coolant Flush Interval Change with MY2004 Question

Discussion in 'E46 M3 (2001-2006)' started by eecon, May 5, 2008.

    eecon guest

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    Hello all .... I bought a new MY2002 E46 M3 6-Speed back in Nov 2001 (with a Sept 2001 Build-Date) that now has 18,000 miles with all the services and service bulletins performed on time as BMW recommended by my local BMW dealer.

    Does anyone know exactly what BMW changed between MY2003 and MY2004 that allowed them to modify their recommended coolant flush interval from 4 years to Lifetime on the E46 M3 (and all their other models)? My dealer was not certain, other than that is what the Engineers in Germany told them to do.

    I'm wondering that if it was simply a change in coolant formulation, maybe I should consider stretching out my next coolant flush to maybe 5 or 6 years based on the way my car is used and stored. I'm currently only putting about 2000 easy miles a year on this M3 and it spends 90% of it's time in a garage that never drops below 40F. The maximum RPM I've ever hit is around 7600. I usually shift around 3500 - 4500 RPM the way I drive. My location on the West Coast of the U.S. also rarely freezes below 32F and I never drive the car during rainy weather or the occassional light snow dusting that we get every few years, nor do I drive further than 15 or 20 miles from home (I have other cars for that kind of stuff).

    I had the coolant flushed on-schedule at my dealer at 4 years in Nov 2005 plus had the brake fluid flushed every 2 years in Nov 2003, Nov 2005 and again recently in Nov 2007. The car has no track time and still has 85% of the original brake pads left plus about 60% of the original Pilot Sports' tread left ..... I do not drive it hard (probably not a good thing in retrospect for this type of car). The computer still shows 7500 miles remaining until the Level 1 inspection here at 18,000 miles. However, the Oil and Filter has been changed annually at the dealer regardless of mileage.

    Based on my type of usage, I'm seriously considering going to a 3 year brake flush interval and a 6 year coolant flush interval regardless of what the BMW Engineers recommend (now that my car is past warranty). I too have been a Mechanical Engineer for over 30 years (heavy industrial engines) and have put some common-sense engineering thought into my decision here.

    Does anyone care to offer any suggestions or counter-points that I may have overlooked in my analysis of coolant and brake fluid flush intervals? Any comments or feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks :)
    • Member

    johnh

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    Nothing has changed. Many veteran BMW techs consider the corporate maintenance plan lacking. Most folks will tell you to flush the coolant every 4 years... some say 2 years. And that means draining it from the block, too, not just the radiator. Use BMW coolant.
    And I doubt you'll find any BMW enthusiast tech who would recommend going more than two-years on brake fluid.

    Autohaus guest

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    You need to drive the car and drive it hard at times. BMW recommends 4 year coolant interval changes. Mike Miller's old school BMW maintenance would be 2 years of coolant changes. I change the coolant every 2 years. I change my brake fluid every 2 years as well. Don't forget to change the manual trans and the differential fluids at 30K miles. You have an exceptional automobile that is begging to be driven hard. Having the engine oil changed every year since you don't go over 2K miles was good thinking.

    eecon guest

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    Gosh, it will take me another 6 or 7 years to hit 30,000 miles. BTW, I don't enjoy driving cars hard and fast .... I prefer limo smooth and easy. Will this driving style actually damage the E46 M3 :confused:

    I do try to drive it about 30 miles every couple of weeks if the weather is dry. When it's in the garage it is on a BMW battery tender with all the windows and moonroof cracked slightly to keep all the rubber window trim un-compressed and let the leather seats breathe. The garage floor is level so the parking brake is off and the transmission is in neutral because I use wheel chocks front and rear to keep it secure ..... I don't live in earthquake country, tornado alley or a flood zone. At least it looks fast while standing still in the garage :)

    Autohaus guest

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    Forgive me for saying this, but you would probably be better off with a 7 series if you prefer smooth and easy driving. Your driving style will not cause the engine to sieze, but it does need to "breath". Your storage will prolong your E46 beyond the next ice age. You may have the only E46 M3 on the planet that has never been abused. Perhaps you should donate it to the BMW museum when you feel that the car is no longer needed. Or I will be ready to buy it off you :)

    eecon guest

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    Thanks for the suggestion about the 7 series, however I do prefer looks over performance and also enjoy driving manual transmissions in a slower-paced carefree and easy style of earlier times ...... regardless of whether it's an M3, Ferrari or Porsche on any given day.
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    crpr2008

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    confused - 2006 e46 m3 - lifetime antifreeze possible or not?

    I am confused. This post suggests nothing has changed regards to BMW antifreeze, and that it needs to be changed every 2 years. However, Peak's products website shows http://www.peakantifreeze.com/antifreeze-peak-global_lifetime.shtml - a lifetime antifreeze.

    Is it possible that BMW has filled the E46 M3 cars with a similar product? I mean, is there a drain plug? Also, where in the car service booklet do they suggest lifetime fluid or an interval for change?

    I don't work for BMW nor for Peak and this is my 2nd bimer, so I am just trying to clear the fog (is a lifetime product really not possible, or is the BMW factory using a non-lifetime product and calling it so?).

    Thanks,
    Carlos,
    Lake Worth, FL
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    johnh

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    I don't know if it's possible to make a "lifetime" anti-freeze. I know that veteran BMW techs do NOT believe it's good to leave it in the engine for more than 2 to 4 years. Also, they recommend BMW brand anti-freeze. Do what you wish, but with most BMWs from E36 on, there's a good chance the plastic cooling system parts won't last anywhere near the life of the vehicle. So you'll have to drain the anti-freeze when you replace the cooling system parts as part of preventative maintenance (before they break and drain the coolant while you're driving).
    • Member

    Zeichen311

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    Any automotive fluid can last a lifetime without regular maintenance--all you need is a sufficiently short "lifetime." You don't even have to change the engine oil, you might luck out and sell the car the day before the engine seizes up and stops. But as far as you're concerned, it lasted the "lifetime" of the car, didn't it? :rolleyes:

    Whenever you hear "lifetime" in this context, mentally substitute the phrase, "longer than most people will keep the car." Therefore if you keep the car longer than most people--or didn't buy it new--you can either gamble that you'll be rid of the car before the statistical "lifetime" runs out, or just pony up the relatively minor costs of basic maintenance (like everyone used to do before cars came from the factory loaded with fairy dust and promises).

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