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E36 M3 (1992-1999) {Euro - S50 B32 321hp @ 7400 rpm} {U.S. - S52 B32 240 hp @ 6000 rpm}
Total Produced: 71,212 - Years Produced: 1992 to 1999


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Old Tue, May-22-2012, 02:36:35 PM   #1
ed007
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Default Aluminum vs Plastic Thermostat Housing

I thought I should share this with anyone who wants to "upgrade" to aluminum thermostat housing.
After running an aluminum thermostat housing for a while I am convinced now that it is best to stay with plastic OEM and just change it every 60,000 miles or so. First, I thought the upgrade will be better, but these MTC or URO Parts aluminum housings are of terrible quality. I just returned a URO Parts housing that I had ordered because it looked very poorly made and my first thought was: "There is no way I am putting this thing in M3 cooling system that is run by a $200 Stewart pump."
The MTC part that I had in my car always had strange leaks no matter how many times you change the seals. So, I went back to plastic OEM, and all the leaks are gone.
Nothing against aluminum housings, but the ones that are currently sold as aftermarket parts have just too poor quality (uneven surfaces, inside cracks etc).
Someone mentioned once that the best part for a BMW is the one that BMW engineers designed for it or at least approved it as OEM. I am now a believer.
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Old Tue, May-22-2012, 02:48:01 PM   #2
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Default Re: Aluminum vs Plastic Thermostat Housing

Agreed. The Al housings that are being made currently are garbage. I had one that was cracked right out of the box. I replaced it with another Al housing because it was what I had available locally. It's still on my car, but next time I'll be going with OEM.
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Old Tue, May-22-2012, 02:51:20 PM   #3
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Default Re: Aluminum vs Plastic Thermostat Housing

Had an AL ronak for a year...then it started leaking...went with oem.
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Old Tue, May-22-2012, 03:24:23 PM   #4
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Default Re: Aluminum vs Plastic Thermostat Housing

bought an aluminum one from pelican parts, and it leaked, drowning it in RTV sealant fixed it but still its not supposed to leak, i wish id bought another oem one, my 150k mile origional oem one was still fine but its old plastic that id rather not risk. but still it lasted 15 years an 150k miles, who knows how long it would have held up.
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Old Tue, May-22-2012, 04:37:23 PM   #5
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Default Re: Aluminum vs Plastic Thermostat Housing

Interesting because I was getting ready to do this job. My car only has 50k miles on it and the original pipe is in perfect condition, car stays nice and cool in traffic with the a/c on. What's the consensus, should I just keep my eye on it and leave it alone or take a preemptive strike and replace it with another factory pipe and the Stewart?
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Old Tue, May-22-2012, 04:47:02 PM   #6
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Default Re: Aluminum vs Plastic Thermostat Housing

I have a "good" Ronak unit on the coupe, but when I just did the cooling system on the vert last week I went OE plastic. The first one lasted 14 years and 92k miles, so what is not to like. The primary issue with an older plastic unit is it cracks very easily when over torqued, something many shadetree types tend to do (that and waterpumps ), so always a good idea to replace when doing the cooling refresh.
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Old Tue, May-22-2012, 04:58:11 PM   #7
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Default Re: Aluminum vs Plastic Thermostat Housing

I have a URO aluminum one on my vert. It's of crappy casting quality, but it doesn't leak after a year or so on the car. Next time I drain the cooling system for whatever reason, I'm replacing it with OEM plastic. They generally last 100,000 miles, so I don't know what I was thinking when I went with the aluminum one that looks like it was made in a factory in Bratislava.
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Old Tue, May-22-2012, 05:07:12 PM   #8
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Default Re: Aluminum vs Plastic Thermostat Housing

Installed the Al one about 3 months ago, URO version, so far no leaks. Next time around I'll stick with OEM plastic.
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Old Tue, May-22-2012, 05:31:19 PM   #9
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Default Re: Aluminum vs Plastic Thermostat Housing

Another vote for the genuine BMW plastic housing.

Like all work with engine gasket surfaces and M6 bolts, tighten bolts evenly, use RTV as needed, and finish torquing carefully.
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Old Tue, May-22-2012, 07:52:54 PM   #10
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Default Re: Aluminum vs Plastic Thermostat Housing

There are three types of housings floating around out there. One, is the aluminum housing. These are cast poorly and leak often. I wrote a huge post about my personal experience with aluminum housings about five years ago. Use the search feature here and I'm sure you'll find it. Basically, I went through two poorly cast and leaky aluminum housings before switching back to composite over the course of a few months.

The next type is non-OEM plastic. These are crap too, often made in China. Nothing more needs to be said about these, just don't buy one.

The last type is the OEM composite housing. This is the OE, BMW, German-made good stuff that originally came on the car. It's very high-quality, robust "plastic". People complain about them cracking after about 80,000 miles. The solution here seems obvious to me: consider it a consumable part, much like the rest of the cooling system, and replace every 75,000 miles. Problem solved. Buy this at the dealership or through an online parts vendor; just make sure it has the little BMW stamp embossed inside.

See post #4... http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showt...mostat+housing
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Discussing Aluminum vs Plastic Thermostat Housing in the E36 M3 (1992-1999) Forum - {Euro - S50 B32 321hp @ 7400 rpm} {U.S. - S52 B32 240 hp @ 6000 rpm}
Total Produced: 71,212 - Years Produced: 1992 to 1999 at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)