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Old 06-10-2012, 07:43 PM   #1
upshift
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Location: Columbus, OH / Ottawa, ON
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Help appreciated- somewhat stuck in Ottawa with my e34

I'll try to make this story as short as possible:

I'm a university student from Columbus, Ohio. I came to Ottawa in early May to complete an internship with Canadian Parliament. Everyone asks why I came to Canada, my response is "Why not?..." You've got a beautiful country and everyone I've met has been nothing but nice. Anyway...

I drove my '95 525iT up here. It has 133k on the clock and I am fairly experienced with repairing Bimmers- my garage consists of the e34, an e30, and a 1976 2002, so I wasn't worried about mechanical issues. Unfortunately, it turns out that I should have been.

The car made the drive from Columbus to Ottawa without incident- in fact, it was a lot of fun to drive it on a long highway trip. I later drove from Ottawa to Quebec City, again without incident. The issue occurred in Montreal, when I was forced to give the car to a hotel valet. I hate giving cars to valets, but have always thought my fears were unfounded and that I was just being too protective of my car.

Fifteen minutes after the valet gets the car and I get to my hotel room, I get a call from the front desk saying there's a problem with my car. I go down to the garage, where I can see coolant all over the floor. Inspection reveals that the coolant overflow tank split in half- this probably wasn't the valet's fault, but still... bad timing.

This was Victoria Day weekend so my chances of finding an overflow tank were nil. I had the car towed from Montreal back to the UOttawa parking lot outside of where I'm staying. (I don't speak French, so getting the tow was about as easy as pulling teeth, but that's another story)

Tuesday, I called Elite BMW who quoted me $170 for a replacement tank. Since FCP Groton had one for $40 shipped, I took that route. As a college student, I don't exactly have a ton of money laying around.

Unfortunately, the one FCP shipped me- genuine, made by Behr, was defective and didn't fit the car. FCP has great service, and promptly shipped me another tank, this one that they bought from a BMW dealership. It actually fits, but it still doesn't fit right, because coolant pours out between the expansion tank and the radiator- the O-ring isn't making the seal. I tried RTV, tried another o-ring, tried using two o-rings... still leaks out. I can post pics if anyone thinks they might be able to identify what the heck is going on here. I am fairly sure that the genuine BMW tank shipped to me is also defective.

So, I'm stuck here. I'm supposed to drive back home in three days and start summer classes. As much as I love Ottawa, I kind of have to go home now. Here are my questions:
  • Are there any independent shops that will help me out? I normally do all my own work; I have never taken a car to a shop. Anyone with reasonable rates and honest service?
  • I would even be open to swapping the entire radiator out with another unit, even a used one. Any junkyards with e34s around here? Does anyone have an e34 that they are parting out? Being on UOttawa campus, I understand I might have to rent a car to get there, but...

Sorry for the long post, I am just frustrated and at this point somewhat drained. It's like a bad dream, I just want to be able to drive and go home but I can't, and I can't just fly and leave my car here for obvious reasons. I feel stuck in a bad dream- at home, I know all the places to go to get weird parts, but being far from home without a car just makes me feel screwed.

I appreciate ANY tips or pointers anyone can offer me.
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Old 06-10-2012, 07:51 PM   #2
upshift
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Here's where the leak is coming from. Yes, that's red RTV, and yes, I cleaned it off once I realized it wouldn't fix the leak. I've tried everything. I'm fairly sure that the tank is fully seated, but it still leaks a steady drip.



Here's the car, just for the heck of it

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Old 06-10-2012, 08:01 PM   #3
The Twin
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Aw dude sorry to hear about your misfortunes...I live in Ottawa, wish I could help you out

Here's what I do know;

Bobby at euro parts will absolutely have the rad assembly. He's about 20 out of Ottawa on the Quebec side.
819 682 0606

As for independent shops?
Where in Ottawa are you located, and is your car drivable?
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Old 06-10-2012, 08:02 PM   #4
upshift
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I'm on the UOttawa campus- car isn't drivable, it leaks all the coolant out before I can bleed the system, so I think it would overheat fast. But I have towing on my auto insurance for up to 100 miles.

Thanks for the euro parts number, I'll call him tomorrow.
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Old 06-10-2012, 08:19 PM   #5
MaxBell
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I had the same problem with the rad in my M50 swapped E30. I used a 318i rad, which is what that one looks like.

Definitely call Bob, I got a new one from him. I forget what it cost, but it was reasonable. I can help you with tools if you like, depending on how long we take to fix it, throw some cash my way.

My number is 613 299 3242 if you want help/tools/a drive over to Bob's in Aylmer.
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Old 06-11-2012, 08:47 AM   #6
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throw some cash my way.


cmon dude...
he's in a bind, in a foreign country and loves his bimmer as much as we do.

if I had the means or the time I'd be more than happy to help pro-bono lol

alas, living in Rockland...family, 5 year old...doesn't even gimme time to wrench on my own
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Old 06-11-2012, 10:34 AM   #7
sb_600
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no kidding man - don't forget how we helped you last weekend
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Old 06-11-2012, 10:37 AM   #8
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a couple shops that would definitely help you out:

http://ottawa.kijiji.ca/c-cars-vehic...AdIdZ385544171

George is the owner/mechanic - great guy, has helped me a TON with my BMW.


-Canadian Tire Carling: Talk to Ralph (service manager) or Tony. Tell them Shawn sent you.
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Old 06-11-2012, 11:43 AM   #9
upshift
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Thanks everyone... europarts did have a radiator, I rented a car and will be getting it tomorrow.

If that doesn`t work out, I`ll give George a call...

appreciate all the advice.
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Old 06-11-2012, 04:05 PM   #10
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I have nothing to offer other than: best of luck getting it fixed.. now after some of you have helped this guy out do any electrical geniuses want to help me out with both my dead power windows on my e36 (have beer money)?
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Old 06-11-2012, 11:52 PM   #11
MaxBell
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cmon dude...
he's in a bind, in a foreign country and loves his bimmer as much as we do.

if I had the means or the time I'd be more than happy to help pro-bono lol

alas, living in Rockland...family, 5 year old...doesn't even gimme time to wrench on my own
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no kidding man - don't forget how we helped you last weekend
Much appreciated dude. But like same with driving down to the USA for Chris' parts. He paid me for the duty and border fee. It's more my time that I'll give for free. I'm more saying for gas to drive him to Aylmer and back and shit but it looks like he rented a car? Wasn't clear, my bad.

But yeh, either way Upshift, if you want help or tools I'm around when you have the rad.
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Last edited by MaxBell; 06-12-2012 at 12:01 AM.
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Old 06-12-2012, 10:28 PM   #12
upshift
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Everyone, thanks for the tips and offers.

I went to euro parts today and got a used radiator which was in great shape, along with a shroud. Thanks for the recommendation, they're great guys there.

Swapped the entire radiator out. Bleeding the system was a real PITA because there isn't really a slope around here to help me out, but eventually it bled. I took it for a spirited test drive down Queen Elizabeth and it held up well. No signs of head gasket issues, heat blew hot the entire time, temp gauge stayed dead on half.

I am leaving for home Thursday AM, but you can be sure I'll be back here again- maybe I'll join for a cruise next time.

Thanks again, and happy motoring.
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Old 06-12-2012, 10:45 PM   #13
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Glad to hear it turned out ok, best of luck on the trip home dude! Hit us up when you're back for sure.
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Old 06-12-2012, 11:03 PM   #14
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Was a problem that turned into an adventure.. good job!!
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