Project E36 M3 - CSF Radiator and Samco Silicone Hose Review June 30 2014

The plastic end tanks on BMW E36 radiators get brittle and start to crack after a few years. We had already replaced the radiator once at 100,000 miles as a preventative measure. The replacement lasted a few years before it developed a small crack. As a more permanent solution, we spoke with our friends at Bimmerworld and ordered a CSF all-aluminum radiator, which doesn't have plastic end tanks that can crack. For good measure, we also ordered a set of silicone Samco upper and lower radiator hoses, which should also be more reliable than their OEM counterparts.

BMW E36 M3 with new CSF radiator about to be installed.

We'll talk about the CSF radiator first. This radiator features all-aluminum construction, but at a price only slightly more than an OEM radiator. The main reason we selected an all-aluminum radiator was for reliability reasons, but there is an added benefit of 25-30% more cooling over the stock radiator.

Closeup of CSF radiator welds.

We were pleased with the craftsmanship of the radiator. The welds looked smooth and even, with no weld splatter or other defects to speak of.

More welds to inspect on the CSF radiator.

More welds for you to look at.

Change of drain plug position.

The drain plug does get relocated from the stock position, which was facing aft, to the new position, which was facing to the driver's left. This makes it slightly harder to access, but not ridiculously so.

Fitment issue with the fan shroud.

The fitment was pretty good, but shy of OEM fitment. The fan shroud and the mounting bracket didn't fit perfectly, so it is necessary to remove material from the top of the mounting bracket or else the plastic rivet won't fit through properly as shown in the photo. You may also notice the clip that secures the radiator to the car. The rubber bushing that the clip mounts into doesn't fit perfectly, but it is good enough to work.

Samco hose kinked.

Now, let's talk about the silicone hoses.The Samco hose was too long, and it kinked when it was first test-fitted.

Tape wrapped around silicone hose to create cut-line.

We had to cut off a few inched of the hose in order for it to fit properly. We made a rough cut first, and then a second cut after test-fitting the hose again. We used masking tape to serve as a guide where to cut. Remember, you can always cut more, but it is difficult to add length back to the hose, but of course you already knew that.

Test fitting the silicone hose to the thermostat housing.

The lower radiator hose had a difficult time fitting onto the thermostat housing at first. We had a spare thermostat housing lying around and test fit the hose to it to make sure it was possible. We tried installing the hose on the car again, and it worked the second time. We think that test fitting the hose to the spare thermostat housing stretched out the hose for an easier installation.

CSF radiator installed.

This is the final product with the aluminum radiator and Samco hoses installed. It looks clean and doesn't stray too drastically from the clean OEM look. Here are our final thoughts:


CSF Radiator: A great value for an all-aluminum radiator that fits almost like OEM if you are handy with a file.


Samco Hoses: Some trimming is required to achieve good fitment, but once installed, they look good in the engine bay and provide a little extra bit of reliability.


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