This article gives detailed instructions on replacing the water pump in a 2006-2010 BMW E60 5 series vehicle with the N52 6 cylinder engine. Even though we used a 2006 530xi touring wagon to perform this repair, this article can be applied to any vehicle with the N52 engine including the 1,3,5,6,7 X1,X3,X5 and Z4 with minor modifications to the repair steps.
A failing BMW E60 water pump in your 2006-2013 5 series can cause engine overheating.
Even though the new N52 6 cylinder engine debuted in BMW vehicles in model year 2005, it was not found in the U.S. version of the E60 5 series until 2006. The N52 engine was a welcomed technological advancement that was manufactured to replace the aging M5x series of 6 cylinder powerplants that had been powering BMW’s since the 1980’s.
The new N52 engine was a more efficient version of its predecessors featuring a new composite magnesium/aluminum crankcase. The N52 also was built with an advanced intelligent heat management system which included an electric cooling fan, electric water pump, and MAP thermostat.
Intelligent heat management in the N52 engine is a complex system that is managed by the engine control module (DME). In general terms, engine heat is electronically controlled in the N52 engine depending on a complex set of data; the temperature of the engine can actually be manipulated by the DME depending upon required driving conditions. If you are interested in learning more about engine heat management and how it affects your 2006-2010 5 series, please see page 47 of the BMW Technical Training Document 2007 NG6 Engines in our Virtual Library.
The BMW E60 water pump was a much needed technological advancement in the 5 series vehicle. Unlike older water pumps that are belt driven, the BMW E60 water pump is electronically controlled by the DME. The DME uses data including engine load, coolant temperature and the vehicle’s operating mode to make adjustments to the water pump’s output. In simple terms, the speed of the water pump is electronically controlled based on a complex set of data calculated by the engine control module. The result is a more powerful and more efficient engine.
Even though the BMW E60 water pump is controlled electronically, it is still a mechanical part. Like all mechanical parts that are subjected to the brutal operating conditions of the engine, it will eventually fail (no part lasts forever). The tell tale sign that you may require a BMW E60 water pump replacement is engine overheating. A failing BMW E60 water pump will also trigger error messages and a Service Engine Light with the following error codes: 2E81,2E82, 2E83, 2E84 and/or 2E85. Please be aware that the preceding symptoms may also include other issues with your cooling system – the entire cooling system should be diagnosed before performing a BMW E60 water pump replacement.
A BMW E60 water pump replacement requires raising the vehicle and partially draining the coolant system. The water pump is located under the vehicle on the right side of the engine block. The repair is a bit challenging due to the tight confines around the water pump and the fact that you will be under a raised vehicle working. We give you detailed step by step instructions below along with a parts list for your convenience.
1. Water pump (required) – Always use an OEM quality water pump when working on your BMW N52 engine. Since the water pump is electronic, be wary of “cheap” generic branded parts – they can fail very quickly. Saving a few bucks isn’t worth having to do this repair again within a couple of months! We give you several superior quality options based on your budget and brand preference.
2. Water pump screws (required) – Also know as the mounting bolts, since the water pump screws are made of aluminum they are considered “one time use” only. Torqueing aluminum bolts causes them stretch…it is always good practice to replace them when doing any repair on your BMW.
3. Anti-freeze/coolant (required) – Since you will lose about 1 gallon of coolant while doing this repair, you will need to have some ready to refill the system with. Only use Genuine BMW Anti-freeze/Coolant mixed 50/50 with distilled water in your E60 5 series vehicle.
Removing the BMW E60 water pump is a difficult repair due to its tight location under the vehicle. Since the thermostat and water pump are integrally connected, it is nearly impossible (as well as impractical) to remove one without the other. The water pump is located on the lower right side of the engine block, tucked in tight above the crossmember frame of the vehicle. In order to remove the BMW E60 water pump, you will (most likely) need to remove the rear underbody protection panel and reinforcement plate in order to gain access to the rear hose connections. All wheel xDrive models (like the touring wagon used in this article) are even more of a challenge…the front differential and right drive axle block access to the back of the water pump and thermostat. Use patience and don’t get frustrated while doing this repair; removing the thermostat from a BMW E60 challenges even professional mechanics.
- Jack and support your vehicle using the “four corner” wheel stand method. Please see our article BMW Jacking and Supporting for Repairs and Maintenance for more information on how to safely support your vehicle for this repair.
- Remove the front belly pan from the vehicle. It is usually held in place with phillips head screws.
- Locate and identify the water pump. It is mounted on the right side of the engine, just above the front crossmember.
- Use a 10mm socket wrench to remove the power steering expansion hose. You may need to hold the mounting bracket as you loosen the nut to keep it from twisting.
- Gently pull the power steering expansion hose back and bungee cord it out of the work area.
- Use a metal pick to gently raise the plastic locking tab on the thermostat’s electrical connector. Pull the plug free from the thermostat.
- Next, the engine block needs to be drained. Make sure the cap is removed off of the coolant expansion tank before proceeding to the next step.
- Move a large drain pan under the thermostat. When the hose is pulled free you will drain out about 1 gallon of coolant.
- To remove the coolant return hose from the front of the thermostat, you will have to release its locking clip. This can be a little tricky since the metal locking clip is located on the top of the hose. We suggest using a straight metal pick to release the clip as shown below.
- With the clip released, grasp the hose and pull it free from the thermostat. If the hose is being stubborn, use a large flat blade screwdriver to pry it free. BE AWARE…the thermostat is filled with coolant and it will come out quickly as soon as the hose is pried loose. Keep your face away from the work area when removing the coolant hose.
- Let the engine block thoroughly drain. This usually takes about 10 minutes.
- Next, remove the heater return hose from the right side of the thermostat. It should not have any coolant in it so there won’t be any mess when it is removed.
- Use a 10mm socket wrench to remove the thermostat’s two mounting bolts. We like to remove the bolts now so the thermostat can be freely moved around – this will make it easier to extract the water pump later steps.
- The power steering return pipe is unfortunately welded to its bracket, making it difficult to access the water pump mounting bolts. We like to slightly loosen the bracket’s mounting bolt so the line can be swiveled back and forth without putting too much stress on the hose. Loosening the bolt also will give you the extra bit of added room you will need to extract the water pump in later steps. Start by gently pushing the thermostat up and back so the return line’s mounting bolt can be accessed.
- Use a 10mm open end wrench to slightly loosen the bolt. DO NOT remove the bolt…just loosen it 1/2 turn.
- With the return line loose, you can easily access the water pump’s lower mounting bolts. Use an E14 external torx socket to remove them both.
- Remove the water pump’s upper mounting bolt with the E14 socket.
- Disconnect the electrical connection from the water pump by depressing the locking tab on the back of the plug and pulling it free.
- Turn the thermostat so you can access the cylinder head coolant line. Loosen its hose clamp and pull it free from the thermostat. If it is stuck, use a flat blade screwdriver to gently pry it free.
After completing the preceding Section 1, the water pump is close to being ready for removal. There is still the engine block coolant hose connected to the right rear side of the water pump that is not allowing it to be extracted from the engine. The easiest solution to removing the water pump’s rear coolant hose is to loosen its hose clamp from the front of the engine…but unfortunately it doesn’t always work out that way. Most likely you will have to loosen it from underneath the car. Please follow our steps to make the procedure go as smooth as possible.
- Push the thermostat to the side and locate the engine block coolant hose connected to the rear of the water pump. If you are able to access the hose clamp’s worm screw, go ahead and loosen it now and proceed to step 6 below. If the worm screw is turned toward the back of the engine (like ours is below), then proceed to the next step. It will have to be removed from underneath the vehicle.
- Remove the rear belly pan from the vehicle. It is usually held in place by a combination of 8mm screws.
- Remove the reinforcement plate. It is held in place with six 16mm bolts.
- Visually locate the the back of the water pump and the engine block coolant hose. You may have to put your hand up inside the engine to move the water pump so you have clear access to the hose clamp.
- Use a long extension with a socket to loosen the engine block coolant hose clamp (avoid using a flat blade screwdriver…they tend to slip). When the clamp is loose, move back to the front of the engine.
- Grasp the water pump and pull it from the engine. The engine block coolant hose will slip off of the water pump when you pull it free.
- Remove the thermostat hose from the back of the water pump. Remove the water pump from the vehicle.
Reassembly of the vehicle is fairly straightforward with one exception: the engine block coolant line should be attached to the water pump from the front of the engine. Attempting to reconnect the engine block coolant line to the water pump from underneath the car is completely unnecessary and frankly a waste of time and energy. Please see step 5 in the reassembly checklist below for more information.
BMW E60 Water Pump Reinstallation Checklist
- Attach the thermostat hose to the back of the water pump. Tighten the hose clamp.
- Insert the water pump back into the engine.
- Attach the engine block coolant line to the back of the water pump and tighten its hose clamp (see our discussion at the beginning of this section concerning this).
- Attach the cylinder head coolant line back to the thermostat and tighten its hose clamp.
- Plug the water pump electrical connector back in.
- Line the water pump up with the engine block and install its three mounting bolts. Torque the bolts to 10 Nm (7 ft-lb) + 90 degrees. Be very careful…aluminum bolts can shear off very easily if over torqued.
- Tighten the power steering line bracket bolt until snug.
- Line the thermostat up with water pump and install its two mounting bolts. Torque the mounting bolts to 6 Nm (4.5 ft-lb).
- Reattach the heater return hose to the side of the thermostat. Make sure you hear it click into place.
- Reinstall the coolant return hose to the front of the thermostat. Make sure you hear it click into place
- Plug the thermostat electrical connector back in.
- Replace the power steering expansion hose back on its bracket and tighten its mounting nut until snug.
- If you have to remove the reinforcement plate under the vehicle, reinstall it and torque its six mounting bolts to 50 Nm (37 ft-lb).
- If you had to remove the rear belly pan reinstall it.
- Install the front belly pan.
- Proceed to Section 4 below for instructions on refilling your engine coolant and purging the system of air.
Your BMW E60 5 series has an automated bleeding process to purge air from the cooling system. The automated process is controlled by the engine control unit and lasts about 12 minutes.
- A battery charger should be attached to your vehicle while refilling the system and purging it of air. The reason for this is you will be drawing current from the battery for about 15-20 minutes without the engine running.
- Attach a battery charger to the battery terminals in the engine compartment as shown below and put it on its lowest setting. NEVER attach a battery charger directly to the battery itself in the rear of the vehicle…you could cause catastrophic damage to sensitive electronics if you do.
- First, the auxiliary water pump needs to be activated to circulate engine coolant through the system while you fill it. The pump is activated when the vehicle’s heat is set to its maximum setting and the blower is at its lowest setting.
- Start by applying the brake and turning on the ignition.
- Release the brake pedal and push the engine start button (do not push the engine start button with the brake pedal depressed or you will start the vehicle). This will allow you to now change the HVAC settings on the dashboard and in the iDrive.
- In the iDrive, set the driver’s side temperature to full heat.
- On the dashboard, turn the driver’s side temperature control to full heat.
- Set the blower speed to low.
- Next, pour a 50/50 mixture of Genuine BMW Antifreeze/Coolant mixed with distilled water into the expansion tank until it is completely full. Wait for the level to go down, then refill it again. Repeat this procedure until the level no longer drops and the expansion tank is full. It should take about 1 gallon to refill the system.
- Put the cap securely back on the expansion tank.
- Move back to the drivers seat of the vehicle. Turn the vehicle off. The vehicle must be turned off before proceeding to the next step.
- Now the coolant must be purged of any air (also know as the bleeding process) . Removing any air pockets from the coolant prevents the engine from possibly overheating. The N52 engine in your 5 series vehicle has an automated bleeding process that is controlled by the electric water pump.
- Begin by turning the ignition back on, releasing the brake pedal and pushing the start button again (steps 2 and 3 above).
- Push the accelerator down with your foot for 12 seconds. This will activate the water pump and commence the automated coolant bleeding process.
- Move to the front of the vehicle and listen for any sounds at the front right side of the engine. You should hear the faint sound of the water pump and coolant being circulated through the system. If you cannot hear the water or the pump then remove the expansion tank cap, visually check that the water is circulating, then quickly replace the cap.
- The automated bleeding process lasts for approximately 12 minutes. When it is finished, turn the vehicle off and disconnect the battery charger.
- Open the coolant reservoir and top off if necessary.