How to remove an e46 radiator

Updated February 21, 2017

When the radiator on your BMW E46 begins to leak it will need to be replaced. If you do not want to take the vehicle to a repair shop, you can complete the task yourself. This will require you to obtain the proper tools that are needed to complete the task. However, you should also be familiar with the engine compartment, so you can locate the various components of the radiator.

Pull the hood release lever from inside the vehicle. Open the bonnet and set the support bar.

Find the two bolts that are used to secure the air filter housing. Remove the bolts by using the socket wrench. Loosen the clamp for the air manifold. Pull the air filter housing out and then disconnect the electrical plug. Set the air filter housing aside.

Find and remove the bolt that is used to secure the fan. Turn the bolt clockwise or to the right with the socket wrench or a crescent wrench to remove it. Remove the fan and the fan shroud.

Locate the expansion tank for the radiator. Disconnect the electrical connector that is on the bottom and then remove the bolts that are securing the tank. Pull the tank up to take it out, and then set it aside.

Disconnect the lower hose from the radiator. Let any water that is in the hose drain out.

Press the quick disconnect plug on the transmission cooler and then pull it up and out. Let it hang from the connected hoses. Let any coolant in the cooler drain out.

Remove the torx screws that are on the left and right sides of the radiator with the torx driver. Push the top of the radiator forward and then lift it up to take it out.


Drain the coolant before you try to take the radiator out. Drain coolant into a bucket or a plastic container.

Things You'll Need

  • Socket wrench
  • Crescent wrench
  • Torx driver
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Cameron Easey has over 15 years customer service experience, with eight of those years in the insurance industry. He has earned various designations from organizations like the Insurance Institute of America and LOMA. Easey earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and history from Western Michigan University.