As we all know by now, the e36 BMW is notorious for its use of plastic. The interior is the usual target of most criticisms, but it doesn’t stop there. Plastics are found all throughout the car, even making their way into the engine compartment. While it’s common to find various plastic pieces throughout most cars, the engine bay tends to be the most brutal of locations due to the constant heat cycling, ultimately causing the plastic parts to become brittle in short order.
Small Part, Large Headache
Those that own (or have owned) an e36 BMW are familiar with the plastic mess of a cooling system waiting to fail. Whether it’s the water pump, the thermostat housing, or the radiator, diligent owners usually replace these items with heavier duty all-metal alternatives.
For what would appear to be a non-issue, the radiator securing method to the core support has always been problematic. BMW decided to use two plastic clamps that are prone to breaking upon removal. Not a big deal if you merely replace the radiator once and forget about it until the next cooling system refresh, but these clamps are a major pain if you’re taking things apart a little too frequently. Reboot Engineering must have felt the same way, as they have created just the solution.
I was initially introduced to Reboot’s aluminum radiator brackets when Taylor was in the middle of his e34 supercharger install. I remembered seeing the e34 versions and thought they were some bespoke part someone had custom fabricated for him. He later told me about Reboot and that they make a variety of custom parts for a multitude of cars.
Not long before the move down south, I replaced the thermostat and water pump to make sure the old 328 was ready for hotter temperatures year-round. It was during that time that I realized I should have ordered the upgraded radiator brackets. A few months go by and I finally remember to place the order. At 65 bucks they were a little spendy, but it’s a small investment for ease of removal and durability.
Once the Reboot parts arrived in the mail, I set some time aside to perform the install. The first step was probably the trickiest, and that was removing the factory style plastic radiator clamps. The dignified way to remove them is to shove a small flathead screwdriver into the slot, then proceed to work the clamp loose. The best analogy I came across was that of a snowboard binding. Once the clamp is unlocked, it can be rocked free from the radiator support. The easy way is to break them off with minimal force, but it’ll cost you $3 bucks every time you do so.
The new pieces are neatly displayed within their packaging. For each side, there are two bolts and a 2-piece bracket that make up the metal radiator stay. The larger of the bracketry sits on top of the core support while hooking into the rubber mounts on the radiator itself. With the top piece loosely in position, the lower of the piece sits under the front core support. Making sure the bolt holes are aligned, the two bolts are fed from the top and tightened into position using a 4mm hex wrench. Once all is snug tight, the radiator should be secured into position.
With everything buttoned up, the new radiator brackets have a clean, yet purposeful look in the engine compartment. I kept things simple and ordered the brackets in black, but Reboot also offers raw and purple finishes in case you fancy something flashier.
By no means was this an elaborate install. If anything, it was all of 15 minutes and extraordinarily easy (which is rare for the typical workflow). Nonetheless, it’s nice to know someone has come up with an improved solution to a problem area of the car. At the end of the day, when the manufacturer stops producing the car, it’s up to the passion of enthusiasts to keep them going.
Interested in heavier duty upper radiator mounts for your e36? Check out Reboot Engineering.