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Do-It-Yourself Projects
Replacing a RadiatorPrintable version
Degree of DifficultyModerate
Estimated Time120 minutes
120 minutes
Point of No Return #1
If you cannot locate or remove these items, or if you do not have the tools to perform this service, take your vehicle to a reputable shop and have a professional technician handle the job.
Tools Required
  • Screwdrivers
  • Socket wrenches and/or combination wrenches
  • Flare-nut wrenches (for automatic transmission lines)
  • A drain pan
Tools Needed for Replacing a Radiator
  • Replacement radiator (new or "rebuilt")
  • New antifreeze and fresh water (distilled is best)
  • Silicone sealant
  • Paper towels
Many auto parts stores and dealerships offer replacement radiators for most newer vehicles. You will need to provide information about the exact model, engine size, transmission and accessories (such as air conditioning) on your vehicle in order to get the correct replacement radiator. However, if you own an older vehicle, you may need to consider having your radiator rebuilt. This is called "re-coring," and it is a process where the finned part of the radiator is replaced while keeping your existing side tanks, hose locations and mounting brackets. If you opt for re-coring, count on some vehicle down time between when you remove the old radiator and when you install the rebuilt one.
The Job
  1. Park your vehicle on a level surface in a well-lighted area. Let the engine cool down completely.

  2. If your vehicle is equipped with electric cooling fans, disconnect the battery.

  3. Drain the coolant from the radiator. (See the "flushing the cooling system" DIY for detailed information.)
Disconnect the Battery Before Draining the Coolant from the Radiator
  1. Unclamp and remove the upper and lower radiator hoses from the radiator.

  2. Remove the fan shroud. The shroud may be attached to the radiator or to the radiator supporting frame. It is usually either clipped in place or is held by screws or bolts. You may have to wiggle the shroud back and forth around the fan blades and brackets to completely remove it. Some shrouds are multi-piece arrangements, so make sure you remember how the pieces fit together. Removing the fan shroud sometimes even requires the removal of the engine cooling fan. The fan is usually bolted to the water pump with four small bolts.
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