man's hand holding the steering wheel of a BMW car

What coolants to use in a BMW, and how to top it up


BMW is one of the most recognisable brands on the roads today, and with a history dating back over 100 years and a collection of cars boasting some of the most iconic shapes in all of motoring, owning a BMW is something many people are incredibly proud of.

With its reputation as being one of the more premium brands on the market, what may be a simple task of popping into your nearest Halfords to grab a bottle of engine coolant (or antifreeze, as it’s otherwise known) actually requires a little more thought in ensuring you get what’s right for your engine.

Do BMWs need special coolant?

Due to the way that BMW engines are built, they have specific requirements when looking for engine coolant in that any coolant must be nitrate and phosphate free in order to avoid the corrosion of aluminium components. The vast majority of coolants on the shelves, however, do not meet these requirements, so you will have to make sure you’re picking up the right bottle.

What type of coolant can I use in my BMW?

While you’ll probably be told by your local BMW dealer or specialist that you have to use genuine BMW coolant, there are some brands out there that will do just as good a job. As long as you find a bottle of coolant that states it is NAP-free (nitrates, amines and phosphates) it will be absolutely fine for your BMW engine and you’ll find most well-known brands will offer NAP-free options.

Do different models of BMW need different types of coolant?

BMWs across the board, from hatchback 1-series all the way up to the 8-series Gran Coupe, will require an NAP-free coolant, so it’s always best to make sure you are checking which coolant you are picking up before you buy.

How to check coolant levels in a BMW?

Much like checking any fluids, such as your engine’s oil levels, make sure you park on level ground and wait at least 30 minutes before starting your checks to give the engine time to cool down. Once you pop the bonnet, locate your coolant reservoir, which for BMWs is usually a small black tank to the left of the engine. Of course this can vary from model to model, so make sure you check your owner’s manual if you’re not certain. Once you have carefully removed the cap, you will see a floating device, which will be floating slightly above the top of the entry if full. If the device sits level with the top of the reservoir, then you will need to top up.

Where to buy BMW coolant?

Almost all garages will be able to get hold of the antifreeze you need for your BMW, and if they don’t have it to hand will be able to order some in for you. Otherwise the industry leaders for vehicle products in the UK will see you shopping at either Halfords or Euro Car Parts – although if you get really stuck then you could even get bottles from Amazon.

How much coolant to use in a BMW?

The amount required to top up your car will depend on a number of factors, so it’s always best to err on the side of caution when purchasing a bottle – it’s better to buy too much and have some coolant leftover than finding out you need to head out and buy a second bottle. It’s also important to check whether the antifreeze you are buying is premixed or not, otherwise you may find you need to dilute it with distilled water in a 50/50 mix. 

What happens if I don’t mix coolant correctly?

Not all antifreeze options come premixed, and if the one you have picked up requires dilution, then you’ll need to make sure you get your quantities correct. The general consensus is that you require a 50/50 mix of coolant to distilled (never tap) water, while if you live in colder climates then a 60-40 mix of coolant to water is preferred. Too much antifreeze in the mix and you could find your engine overheating as the heat-transfer capabilities can be lowered by as much as 35%, whereas too much water can see the chances of freezing and boiling in cold and hot weather respectively rise.

You can learn more about how to add and change car coolant here.

Make sure to keep checking back to our Car Care guide to keep on top of every aspect of your motoring life, helping you keep your car on the road for as long as possible. However, if your car is definitely beyond help and scrapping is the only option, then make sure to use Scrap Car Comparison’s online quote generator where we can find you the very best price for your car, guaranteed.

 
 

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