Easy step by step repair guide on how to replace an automotive radiator, though appearances may vary the process is similar for most vehicles.
Difficulty Scale: 5 of 10
Begin with the engine cold, vehicle on level ground, transmission in park with
the emergency brake on.
- With the engine cold (only) locate and
remove the radiator cap, a small amount of pressure maybe released when loosened.
Step 2 - Once the cap has been turned counter clockwise
while pushing downward, lift the cap from the radiator.
Remove Radiator Cap (Engine Cold)
Step 3 - Next, remove lower shield mounting bolts
while removing shielding. This will allow access the bottom of the radiator.
Radiator Cap Removed
Step 4 - After removing the lower shielding, locate
the radiator drain plug and start to loosen.
Remove Lower Shield Mounting Bolts
Step 5 - Once the drain plug is loosened coolant
will start draining from the radiator drain. Use a catch basin to collect the coolant to be recycled.
Locate and Loosen Radiator Drain Plug
Step 6 - After the coolant has finished draining,
remove the mounting bolts or clips holding the air intake and the plastic fascia
over the radiator.
Step 7 - Once all of the mounting fasteners are
removed, lift the cover from the engine bay. Also move the air intake away from
the work area.
Remove Air Intake
Step 8 - Next, located and remove coolant reservoir
Remove Plastic Fascia Cover
Step 9 - Then, remove the coolant overflow tube
from the radiator neck. This hose can become stuck so a twist could be necessary.
Once free, remove the coolant reservoir from the engine bay.
Removing Coolant Reservoir Bolts
Step 10 - After the coolant reservoir has been
removed, locate and disconnect the cooling fan electrical connector.
Remove Radiator Overflow Hose
Step 11 - Using a hose clamp removal tool or channel
locks loosen the upper radiator hose clamp.
Disconnect Radiator Cooling Fan Connector
Step 12 - Once the clamp has been loosened, grasp
the upper hose and twist to remove.
Loosen Upper Radiator Hose Clamp
Step 13 - Next, remove all cooling fan mounting
Remove Upper Radiator Hose
Step 14 - After the cooling fan mounting bolts
have been removed, gently lift out the fan and housing.
Remove Cooling Fan Mounting Bolts
Step 15 - Then, using a wrench loosen and remove
the automatic transmission cooler lines from the radiator, there should be two of
Removing Cooling Fans
Step 16 - Once the transmission lines have been
removed, locate the radiator mounting bolts and remove.
Remove Transmission Cooler Line
Step 17 - After the radiator mounting bolts have
been removed, move the radiator forward to remove the air conditioner condenser
from the radiator. This condenser will remain in the engine bay so vacuum down and
recharge is not necessary.
Remove Radiator Mounting Bolts
Step 18 - Using a hose clamp removal tool or channel
locks loosen and remove the lower radiator hose. A small amount of coolant might
leak from the hose, be ready with a fluid catch basin.
Remove Condenser Mounting Bolts
Step 19 - Now that all hoses and mounting bolts
and clips have been removed, gently lift the radiator from the engine bay.
Lower Radiator Hose Removed
Step 20 - Once the old radiator has been removed,
un-box the new radiator and match it up to the old radiator. Look for mounting clips.
mounts and transmission lines that might need to be transferred over.
Step 21 - After old radiator parts have been transferred
over to the new radiator, gently install the new radiator. Be careful not to damage
the radiator core while installation is occurring.
Step 22 - Once these steps have been completed,
reverse the order to reinstall the new radiator. Refill the system with coolant
and start the engine, allow the engine to warm completely while adding coolant until
Installing New Radiator
Step 23 - Next, reinstall the radiator cap by pushing
down and turning it clockwise until tight, also check the coolant reservoir fluid
level. After installing the radiator cap, recheck the system for leaks, also recheck
the coolant reservoir after a couple of days of operation. Once driving the vehicle,
check the temperature gauge for
removes heat from the
engine through thermal heat exchange using coolant as a conductor and is usually
located in the front of the vehicle under the
consists of many parts including a thermostat, water pump and cooling
hoses. A radiator is manufactured with a thin aluminum core coupled with plastic
tanks which are prone to coolant leaks
When removing the radiator leaving the cooling fans attached and transferring them
onto the new radiator while on the bench could be more efficient. While the radiator
is removed use a garden hose to clean the area including the air conditioner condenser.
Tools and Supplies Needed
- Replacement radiator
- Engine coolant
- Socket set
- Wrench set
- Hose clamp removal tool or channel locks
- Shop towels
- Fluid catch basin
- Protective eyewear and gloves
battery cable to avoid short circuits.
- Replace the
when changing a radiator.
- Flush the
cooling system and install new coolant to protect gaskets and internal engine
- Replace upper and lower radiator
- Inspect the
- Inspect and remove debris such as plastic bags in front of the front grill
Article first published 2016-02-04