1997 BMW 528 - Heater tube saga

I bought the 528i used and its a fantastic vehicle. But mine had worn thru the Heater tubes (3 Aluminum Tubes coming out of the firewall from the Heater Core) well after a few miles down the road …the water would leak from the tubes and leak ONLY in the engine compartment so I could not figure it out. Till one day caught it just right and saw the problem. I bought a brand new heater core assembly for $200.00 and it came with the tubes …just need someone to put it on and cure the problem.

You do realize that by buying the part yourself, the installer will not warranty the part?
Won’t your usual mechanic install it? With a 25 Y.O. BMW, you are going to need a good mechanic.


I could be wrong…but some folks don’t like the mechanic’s marked up price for parts, and think they can “save money” by getting the part(s) on their own.

Then they try and find a mechanic to install the “cheaper” parts, and cant find anyone willing.

In life, you either pay in money or in time. But you pay one way or another.


Two sides to it. Any time I have provided my own parts is 1) already bought them and changed my mind about doing it myself and 2) part was hard to come by and saved some sourcing issues by getting it myself.

In the case of a part hard to come by, the shop may not be displeased that you already have the part. Of course recognizing that other parts may be necessary and the part may not work. Had both. Agree we should not try and skim off parts profit from the shop but be nice to them.

I seem to recall an old saying. Something to the effect that…
Those who try to save the most money on repairs inevitably wind-up spending the most.


Another questionable use of the word ‘just’. I’m betting the heater core needs to be removed, which could be a major pain.

I also remember someone stating that the entire cooling system on many BMWs was a wear item…

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I remember reading that there are a lot of plastic parts in the heating/cooling system. A while back but one of the reasons advised #1 son (Charlie Chan for those too young to remember) to trade before warranty expired.


BMW does use a lot of plastic parts, and they should be replaced as preventative maintenance according to a friend and long time 5-series fan. He replaces the radiator overflow tank and washer fluid tank with OEM parts after five years. He also replaces the plastic water pump (IIRC) with a metal BMW racing water pump and never has to replace it again. He buys is Bimmers new and keeps them a long time.

Maybe the mechanic can get a cheaper heatercore

Here’s a video of the heater core replacement, took the guy all day:

I first saw the phrase “it is the stingy person who spends the most” in one of Tom and Ray’s early newspaper columns.

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Was it just me? I swear I could smell antifreeze watching that video. Yeah pay someone. Well worth it.

OT: Thought I was in for it when I had to change the core in my Riv. Got the part at NAPA and by the time I got home the whole car was steamed. Thought oh man, big job, but it was surprisingly simple and only a few hours laying on my back. Nothing like the old days when you could change one out from under the hood in about 30 minutes.