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How to Replace a Car Radiator

car radiator

The radiator is a main part of the cooling system. Coolant flows through the tubes inside the radiator, which are surrounded by fins that direct airflow. When the vehicle is moving down the road, air flows through these fins and cools the coolant. The lower temperature coolant is then sent back to the engine. A failed radiator can lead to engine overheating and potential engine damage.

Part 1 of 1: Replacing the radiator

Materials Needed

  • Air compressor (optional)
  • Cooling system vacuum fill tool (optional)
  • Flare nut wrench of the appropriate size
  • Free repair manuals - Autozone provides free online repair manuals for certain makes and models
  • Jack and jack stands
  • Pliers
  • Protective gloves
  • Ratchet and sockets of the appropriate size
  • Ratchet extension
  • Safety glasses
  • Screwdriver
  • Wrenches of the appropriate size

jacking up the vehicle

Step 1: Raise and support the vehicle. Safely support the vehicle by jacking it up and supporting it with jack stands. Place a wheel chock behind the rear wheels and set the parking brake.

drain the coolant from the radiator

Step 2: Drain the coolant from the radiator. Open the petcock valve or remove the lower radiator hose to drain the coolant from the radiator.

removing the radiator reservoir hose

Step 3: Disconnect the radiator reservoir hose. Loosen the hose clamp using either pliers or a screwdriver, depending on the clamp design. Disconnect the hose by twisting and pulling it away from the radiator.

removing the upper radiator hose

Step 4: Remove the upper radiator hose. Loosen the hose clamps using either pliers or a screwdriver, depending on the clamp design. Then remove the hose by twisting and pulling it away from the connection.

removing the lower radiator hose

Step 5: Remove the lower radiator hose. Loosen the hose clamps using either pliers or a screwdriver, depending on the clamp design. Then remove the hose by twisting and pulling it away from the connection.

disconnect the cooling fan electrical connector

Step 6: Disconnect the cooling fan electrical connector. Disconnect the cooling fan electrical connector by pushing on the tab and pulling it back.

removing the cooling fan mounting bolts

Step 7: Remove the cooling fan mounting bolts. Remove the cooling fan mounting bolts using a ratchet, extension and socket of the appropriate size.

removing the cooling fan

Step 8: Remove the cooling fan. Remove the cooling fan from the vehicle.

disconnecting the transmission cooler lines

Step 9: Disconnect the transmission cooler lines. Disconnect the transmission cooler lines from the radiator using a flare nut wrench to prevent rounding off the fittings.

removing the radiator mounting bolts

Step 10: Remove the radiator mounting bolts. Remove the radiator mounting bolts using a wrench or ratchet and socket of the appropriate size.

removing the condenser mounting bolts

Step 11: Remove the condenser mounting bolts. Remove the condenser mounting bolts using a wrench or ratchet and socket of the appropriate size.

removing the radiator

Step 12: Remove the radiator. Remove the radiator from the vehicle.

installing the radiator fasteners

Step 13: Mount the radiator. Mount the new radiator in position.

installing the radiator fasteners

Step 14: Install the condenser mounting bolts. Install the condenser mounting bolts and tighten them down.

removing the radiator mounting bolts

Step 15: Install the radiator mounting bolts. Install the radiator mounting bolts using a wrench or ratchet and socket of the appropriate size.

connecting the transmission cooler lines

Step 16: Connect the transmission cooler lines. Connect the transmission cooler lines to the radiator using a flare nut wrench to prevent rounding off the fittings.

installing the cooling fan

Step 17: Mount the fan. Mount the cooling fan in position.

installing the cooling fan mounting bolts

Step 18: Install the cooling fan mounting bolts. Install the cooling fan mounting bolts using a ratchet, extension and socket of the appropriate size.

connecting the electrical connector

Step 19: Reinstall the connector. Reconnect the cooling fan electrical connector.

installing the lower radiator hose

Step 20: Install the lower radiator hose. Slide the hose onto the connection. Using either pliers or a screwdriver (depending on the clamp design), slide the hose clamps into position and tighten them down.

installing the upper radiator hose

Step 21: Install the upper radiator hose. Slide the hose onto the connection. Then, using either pliers or a screwdriver (depending on the clamp design), slide the hose clamps into position and tighten them down.

connecting the radiator reservoir hose

Step 22: Connect the radiator reservoir hose. Slide the hose onto the connection. Then, using either pliers or a screwdriver (depending on the clamp design), slide the hose clamp into position and tighten it down.

filling the radiator will coolant

Step 23: Fill the radiator with coolant. Close the drain petcock as needed. Then fill the radiator with coolant.

bleeding the cooling system with a vacuum fill tool

Step 24: Bleed the air from the cooling system. Air can be bled from the cooling system either by opening the bleeder valve if equipped, or using a cooling system vacuum fill tool attached to shop air. On some vehicles, it is possible to bleed the cooling system of air by running the engine with the radiator cap off and allowing coolant to puke out.

jacking up the vehicle

Step 25: Lower the vehicle. Jack up the vehicle and remove the jack stands. Then lower the vehicle and remove the wheel chock.

Radiator replacement is a big job. If this seems like a task you’d prefer to leave to a professional, YourMechanic offers expert radiator replacement completed at your home or office.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
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