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Antifreeze. How special can it be?


I have a 2002 BMW 325i. I need to replace the water pump.

My question is about antifreeze. Is it necessary to use the BMW brand antifreeze, or can I use off the shelf Prestone (which is more easily avaliable)?

how much are you going to save by not using BMW? $10? $20? Usually I recommend the off-the-shelf brands, but for this rare change, why not use approved?

I can only get the BMW brand by internet/mail order. My concern is that I may find myself in a situation where I need to add antifreeze but cannot get BMW.
I may be swayed to go ahead and get the BMW brand, but as an academic exercise, seriously, what’s the difference?

Coolant is one of the fluids that I strongly recommend the use of the manufacturer’s fluid. I myself bought the proper Toyota mix when I drained and replenished my own coolant recently. It’s worth the few extra bucks not to take the risk. Mixing luids has the potential for problems.

One additional point: there should be a “premixed” as well as a “concentrated” version. If you choose to mix the concentrated version yourself, use only distilled water, available at the grocery store for about $1.29/gal. Tap water and well water can bring with them high mineral contents and/or acidity, which while safe to drink can cause problems in a cooling system.

I used to think ‘use Prestone’, but now I try to use the specific one recommended by the manufacturer. I was amazed at the complexity of fluids listed for Ford, of all companies! I would definitely use BMW’s coolant, they’re known to have finicky cooling systems.

If the owner’s manual says to use ABC, then you are well advised to to use it. If it says type II then use that, any brand. If you are going to change types (not brand) then make sure you have cleaned all the old out, mixing types can get you in real trouble.

If you find yourself in that position, add distilled water, which you can buy anywhere, and then get the leak fixed and top it off with BMW antifreeze.

"mixing types can get you in real trouble. "

How so?

(I’m convinced, BTW)

Different brands use different additive packages. Sometimes, these additives are not compatible with each other, and can cause all likes of issues, like additives that stop working or dangerous compounds that form, like acids. I typically stick with the brand I start out with.

If the car uses the ‘green stuff’, you can probably use any decent brand of ethylene glycol coolant safely. (like Prestone, Peak, whatever) If it’s any other color though I would spend the extra money for the manufacturer recommended coolant.

Thanks, everyone,
you’ve convinced me.
I guess I’ll just buy an extra gallon to carry with me.
Thanks, again.

I put a new (OEM) radiator in a '97 328 BMW. I added distilled water and Prestone 5/50 antifreeze because it was the only antifreeze I could find that was non-silicate non-nitrate as prescribed in the owners manual.

Two years later, the O-rings that seal the aluminum core to the plastic end caps had dissolved.

Since then, I use only BMW antifreeze in all four of my BMWs. I think it is made by BASF, but I can only find it in BMW label jugs. I buy it on-line, significantly cheaper than the dealer sells it.