Cooling systems have long been BMW’s achilles heel and after a long drive in the E36, I got that familiar whiff of sweetness. Before I was left stranded in Chicago’s bitter winter, I thought it best to finally order the rest of the cooling system refresh parts I needed. I was able to take advantage of a Mishimoto 40% off sale (thank you, Cat) to snag the radiator, hoses, and aluminum expansion tank awhile back and stock piled the parts while I addressed more urgent matters.
I ran a Mishimoto on my previous E36 and had problems with it, but I was so happy with their support that I chose to order it again. After the stock radiator came out, its age definitely showed and may have actually been clogged.
New hoses were “might as well” replacements. The Mishimoto silicone hoses are much more robust and give me an added peace of mind amongst all the new parts under the hood. Speaking of “might as well” replacements, I stopped by an Advanced Auto to snag some new belts. I would’ve hated having one of these things snap and take a fan out with it. For good measure, a new OEM belt tensioner was installed as well since there was massive play in the existing unit.
I ordered a brass bleeder screw to replace the plastic OEM unit that is often the culprit of leaking, but ended up not needing the piece—the Mishimoto aluminum expansion tank doesn’t have a home for it. I’m sure it’ll find a home on a future car soon enough. The Mishimoto tank, much like the radiator, was a direct replacement for the OEM unit. To our surprise, there wasn’t a secure way to fasten the expansion tank to the radiator, despite them being from the same manufacturer. As a result, the tank relies on a small area on the fan shroud for support which isn’t exactly ideal, but it’ll do for now.
An aluminum water pump housing courtesy of Bimmerworld made its way onto Aubergine—a nice cap onto a new 80 degree thermostat (8 degrees cooler than the OEM unit). I was on the fence about going to a cooler thermostat, but eventually opted to delete the E36’s mechanical fans in favor of an electrical unit from Spal. After taking the plunge, the new thermostat was an easy decision.
A Motion Motorsport aluminum under tray replaced all of the flimsy plastic underneath. I was actually surprised the OEM “pork chops” were still under the car when I bought it, but this aluminum piece was too sweet to resist. The optional baffle will help channel air up to the radiator as well. Super cool.
As the story goes with most preventative maintenance, it’s hard to stop at one thing and alongside the cooling system refresh, new Centric rotors and pads went onto all four corners. It seemed a good a time as any to also throw on a Macht Schnell stud conversion kit. So much better.
It’s a bit of a relic, but this Sparco strut bar has been with the local E36 community for over 10 years. It was a bit of nostalgia and spontaneous spending at the same time, but I have always liked this one. Unlike 80% of the other bars on the market, this is a true one-piece design and way cheaper than the other ones I would’ve probably thrown onto the car eventually. A few more OEM replacement bits went onto the car as well—new jack pads, fuel filter, and oil filter.
HUGE thanks again to Eric at eFab Motorsports for his help and expertise. The car is coming together quite nicely now and after all the maintenance is taken care of, we can start throwing on a few mods that have been on my E36 list for years. Stay tuned!
Maintenance / Modifications Performed (through 1/19/2016):
• OEM Hood Emblem
• OEM Trunk Emblem
• OEM Oil Pan Gasket
• OEM Valve Cover Gasket
• NKG Spark Plugs
• OEM Intake Boot
• LED Dome/Trunk/License Plate Light Conversion
• OEM X-Brace
• OEM ZHP Weighted Shift Knob
• New trunk loom wiring
• OEM 3.0″ Intake Boot Replacement
• AFE Intake Stage 2 ProDry S
• Depo Headlight Housings with FX-R Projector Retrofit
• Mishimoto aluminum radiator
• Mishimoto aluminum expansion tank
• Mishimoto radiator hoses
• Spal electric fan conversion kit (Bimmerworld)
• Span fan shroud gasket
• 80 degree thermostat
• Aluminum thermostat housing
• OE serpentine belt
• OE A/C drive belt
• OEM belt tensioner
• Sparco strut bar
• Centric rotors x 4 (blank)
• PFC pads (front)
• Macht Schnell stud conversion kit
• Motion Motorsport aluminum undertray with radiator baffle
• OEM fuel filter
• OEM oil filter
• OEM jack pads X 4