How to Install A Radiator

Step One - Safety First

• Make absolutely sure that the engine is completely cold before you

begin removing and installing a radiator on a vehicle

• Turn the vehicle off and park it in an area that will allow sufficient working space for the installation.

• Wear gloves and safety glasses when handling parts and working under the hood

• Keep children away from the work area and keep all parts and tools off to the side to avoid a tripping hazard

Step Two - Use the Right Tools

• Large drain pan or a bucket - to drain the old coolant

• Distilled water - 1 gallon

• 50/50 Antifreeze/Coolant – 2 gallons

• 2 straight blade screwdrivers - 1 long handle and 1 short handle

• Set of common open end wrenches - or an adjustable wrench

• Short angled pick - for breaking the seal on the hoses

• Ratchet -10mm, 1/4” or 3/8” sockets

• Hose Clamp Pliers – to remove clamps from hoses

• Hose Clamps – new hose clamps should be used for each installation

• Coolant Hoses - these should be replaced every 4 years.

• Quick Disconnect Tool – to remove quick disconnect fittings, if needed.

• Other Tools - as required to remove the cover, trim pieces and fan shrouds

Step Three - Removing the Old Radiator

• Disconnect the negative battery cable from the battery.

• Locate the drain plug (also known as the pet cock), it is usually located

on either side on the bottom of the radiator.

• Remove the radiator cap to allow the coolant to more easily flow through the system.

• Drain the coolant into the bucket. It may be necessary to raise the

vehicle for the bucket to fit underneath the radiator.

• Remove bottom hose clamp on radiator using a straight blade screw driver or hose clamp pliers. If the hose will not come loose by hand, use the short angled pick to break the seal between the hose and the hose connection.

• Drain any remaining fluid from the hose and hose connection.

• Repeat this procedure for disconnecting and draining the top hose.

• Check coolant hoses to ensure they are functioning properly. After removal of coolant hose, squeeze the hose to see if there are no cracks and if the coolant hose returns to its original shape.

• If you have an automatic transmission, you will need to remove the transmission oil cooler lines. Note: Many late model Ford and Chrysler vehicles use quick disconnect fittings and a special tool is required, while most import cars will use a hose and clamp.

• Carefully unscrew transmission oil cooler lines with an open end wrench and be cautious not to bend the lines.

• If the vehicle has an engine driven fan, remove the fan shroud.

• Note: All fan shrouds attach differently. If the vehicle has an electric fan, the fittings must be disconnected and some vehicles have sensors that also must be removed.

• Locate the radiator mounting points. If the overflow tanks are located on the left and right of the radiator, the mounting points will be at each corner on the top tank. If the overflow tanks are located on the top and bottom of the radiator, the mounting points will either be on each corner and for imports on the top and for domestic vehicles running vertical on the sides.

• Carefully lift the radiator from the engine compartment, avoiding contact with the fan blades and not spilling any excess fluid.

Step Four - Installing the New Radiator

• Compare the new radiator to the old radiator and make sure it is the

correct part and all the connections are the same.

• Remove any fan assemblies or sensors from the old radiator and transfer them to the new radiator.

• Check all hoses and hose clamps for damage or excessive wear and replace these parts as necessary.

• The ground wire must be connected from the radiator to the support or to the chassis.

• Check all screw-in lines (oil cooler & trans cooler) for proper seals and start each by hand before tightening.

• After all connecting parts have been assembled to the new radiator, reverse the above procedure for proper installation.

Step Five - Checking and Filling the Cooling System

• Once the installation of the radiator is complete, check and ensure all the hose connections are tight.

• Check the vehicle owner’s manual for the correct type of coolant and never mix different types of coolant.

• Using a funnel to avoid spills, fill the radiator with a 50/50 mixture of the specified type of coolant and distilled water.

• Note: If the top radiator hose sits higher (at any point) than the radiator cap, then locate a vent that is usually at the highest point in the system.

Open this vent before filling and close the vent once the radiator is full and prior to starting the vehicle.

• After all excess coolant is wiped or rinsed away the system should be visually checked for leaks.

• Turn on engine and wait until the thermostat opens; then check the system and add more coolant as needed.

• Check for leaks under the vehicle and around all the hose connections.

• Test drive the vehicle, check the engine temperature and re-check all connection to ensure the cooling system is functioning properly.

• Congratulations - the installation of the new radiator is now complete!

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