What tools are need to change the freeze

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What tools are need to change the freeze
plug behind the starter
Do you
have the same problem?
Monday, March 4th, 2013 AT 8:12 PM

1 Reply

Depends on the engine size. Most commonly you need a 15mm socket, extensions, and a ratchet to remove the starter if it's in the way. Watch out for the large battery cable on the starter. Don't you dare let a metal tool touch that and a metal part of the car at the same time. It's safest to remove the negative battery cable first but doing that on the '97 models leads to lots of frustration reprogramming the heater control computer. I don't know if that applies to a 2000 model. If you're as nervous about that large starter terminal touching a metal part of the car as I would be, the proper thing to do is remove the battery cable. Only leave it connected to avoid the HVAC Computer reprogramming if you can do so safely.

There's going to be flood of coolant come out when you pop the core plug out. To avoid that you may want to remove the lower radiator hose from one end and let the coolant run into a large drain pan first. Do not open the petcock on the radiator, ... Ever. We had a huge problem in the mid to late '90s with part of the plastic radiator tank cracking inside when the petcock was removed. That resulted later in coolant dripping about once every five seconds and the only fix was a new radiator.

Use a round punch and a hammer to hit one side of the plug right on the edge or ridge. If you hit it on the recessed area you MIGHT get it to rotate but if it's really corroded the punch may just go through it and make a bigger hole. The goal is to get one side of the plug to go further into the engine block. As it does, the other side will rotate out, then you can grab it with a pliers and pull it out. Those plugs are made of soft metal and will bend pretty easily when you pull them out.

The new one will bend easily too so you have to be careful when pounding it in. Professionals use a special tool that is nothing more than a set of curved extension handles and various sizes of discs. You pick the right disc that just sits on the lip of the plug, and a chose the best handle extension. Be sure the new plug is sitting squarely in the hole, then tap it in until the disc touches the engine block. You can use a little gasket sealer around the outside of the plug too for added insurance against a leak, but it's really not necessary. I like the gray stuff from the Chrysler dealer's parts department. Many auto parts stores borrow or rent tools and they will have the tool kit with all the disc sizes. You can also use a large socket that matches the outer diameter of the new plug. The socket must be just a fuzz smaller in diameter so it doesn't get stuck. You'll have to watch very closely to insure the plug goes in straight. Tap more on one side to straighten it out if necessary, and check the progress often. Repeatedly cocking it in the hole can deform it but it will usually still bend enough to seal once it's in all the way. That's where the gasket sealer can be beneficial. Look at how far the old plug or any of the other ones is inserted, and insert the new one the same amount.

Follow the upper radiator hose to the thermostat housing where it attaches to on the engine. Look for a hollow bleeder screw. If you see one, loosen that up to let air escape as you refill the coolant. If there is no bleeder screw, it may not be necessary to bleed the system, or you can remove one of the temperature sensors near that housing. You typically will not get all of the old coolant back into the system until after the engine has been warmed up and cools down again. This is a good time to consider installing new antifreeze. It should be replaced every two years because it becomes acidic. Corrosion inhibitor and water pump lubricant additives wear out in about two years. That is the biggest cause of core plugs corroding and leaking.
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Monday, March 4th, 2013 AT 11:09 PM

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