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 Write-Up: Radiator Replacement

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Abaddon
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PostSubject: Write-Up: Radiator Replacement    Sun Jun 27, 2010 4:46 pm

I recently replaced my Radiator. I noticed we didn't have a write-up on it, so here we are. IMO, this is a simple removal/replacement that can be done easily in the garage or driveway, with few tools. This job can be messy though, as the Radiator houses the transmission cooler as well as coolant.

Tools you will need...

- Ratchet (3/8" preferred)
- 3" extension
- 10mm socket
- 13mm socket
- 16mm line wrench (or 16mm open end wrench)
- Adjustable pliers (or proper pinch-clamp removal tool)
- Push pin removal tool or side cutters
- Phillips screwdriver

First, you need to drain the coolant. The drain cock is located on the drivers side bottom corner of the Radiator. You need to remove the giant plastic piece under the front fascia to access it. I didn't do it this way. I used a drain pan under the car when I removed the lower Radiator hose (the messy way). It may have been the "lazy" way, but I didn't have to raise or crawl under the car.

Now you can remove the Bypass Hose that is connected to the backside of the Radiator "cover". You will use the push pin (trim tool) remover or equivalent to pull out the retainers. I rested mine on top of the engine once I undid it.

For the next part, you will need the 10mm and 13mm sockets. There are 8 10mm bolts and 2 10mm nuts you have to remove, which are shown in green in the below pic. There are also 2 13mm bolts that need to be removed, which are on the backside of the cover marked with the white arrows.


Once you have removed those bolts/nuts, the top piece will pull straight up and off, revealing the Radiator and the Condenser. After you remove the top piece, you want to remove the cooling fans, starting with the driver side fan first. They are held on with 4 10mm bolts (2 each) which are marked with the red and white arrows. The 2 in the middle are right on top of the Radiator. The other 2 (white arrows) are down lower on the outer edge of the Radiator. Once you get the driver side fan "loose", you want to tilt the lower edge in so you can access the cooling fan plug to unplug it. You also want to unclip the harness from the little retainer that holds it in place. I used a pocket screwdriver to release the clip (second pic down). You will have to lift straight up on the fans to get them to move, as they also slide into notches on the Radiator to help keep them in place.



Once the Cooling Fans are unplugged and unbolted, carefully remove them from the Radiator. Be careful removing the passenger side fan. One of the tabs for it is directly underneath the Coolant Level Sensor. If not careful, you'll snap the sensor off.


Now that the fans are out, you can easily get to everything else. Now we can unplug the Coolant Level Sensor, and disconnect both Trans cooler lines (16mm line wrench or open end). Be careful not to strip the fittings if you don't have a line wrench. You may need to soak them with Penetrating fluid first.
This is when I removed the Lower Radiator Hose (adjustable Pliers) and the Upper Radiator Hose.

Now there are 2 more 10mm bolts that need to be removed. They are located in the upper corners on the front of the Radiator. These 2 bolts secure the Condenser to the the Rad.


Now that everything is disconnected, we can pull the Radiator straight up and out. I say straight up because, like the cooling fans, there are tabs on the bottom that slide onto the Condenser. You don't want to break these.


With the Radiator out, there are some parts we need to transfer to the new one. This part of the repair may vary as different Radiator companies supply different parts. There is a coupler for the Lower Rad hose that needs to be transferred, and also the Coolant Level Sensor (white circle). Remove the Level Sensor by releasing the two plastic tabs that hold it on (pocket screwdriver). The sensor pulls straight out once it's released. The replacement Radiator I bought had a plug in the sensor hole, which was removed with a Phillips screwdriver. The Level Sensor simply pushes into that hole. While the new Radiator is out, you will want to remove the trans cooler line adapters (16mm line wrench) from it (red circle) and apply some pipe tape or liquid sealer and reinstall them. You may also need to transfer some clips from the bracket on top of the Radiator (upper right of pic).


Once you have everything transferred, you can install the new Radiator. Be sure to slide it into the "clips" of the Condenser. It may take a lil fumbling but it fits. Attach the trans cooler lines, the Lower Rad Hose, and the Level Sensor connector. Install the passenger side cooling fan first. Again, taking care not to damage the Coolant Level Sensor. Install the driver side cooling fan. Don't forget the 2 10mm bolts in the upper corners of the Condenser.
IMPORTANT! When you reinstall the Upper Rad Hose, you need to position the clamp sideways, toward the engine. If you don't, the top cover will push down on the clamp and potentially break the Radiator.

Once all is connected, install the top cover. (ten 10mm's and two 13mm's on the backside). Make sure you line up the foam on the under side of the cover so that the Radiator fits in snug. Re-attach the Bypass Hose.

To fill the Cooling System.....I have a big funnel with a "stop" to do this. Fill the Radiator until the coolant is to the top. Start the car. The coolant is going to bubble in the Radiator and the level is going to drop. Continue to fill the Radiator to keep it full. Eventually, the Radiator will hold no more coolant (usually after the T-stat opens), install the Radiator Cap. Loosen the bleeder screw on top of the Thermostat housing (I failed to take a pic of this). At first, nothing is going to come out, so don't keep loosening it. About 1-1/2 turns is loose enough. After 30secs or so, coolant will start spitting sideways out of the screw. When it becomes straight coolant with no air, tighten the bleeder. Let the car heat up good. Check the Coolant Reservoir, add as necessary.

DONE!
(don't forget to clean up your mess)




Last edited by Abaddon on Sun Jun 27, 2010 9:59 pm; edited 1 time in total
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flyineagle96
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Radiator Replacement    Sun Jun 27, 2010 7:16 pm

Did you, refill with Dex cool?
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Abaddon
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Radiator Replacement    Sun Jun 27, 2010 7:26 pm

flyineagle96 wrote:
Did you, refill with Dex cool?

Yes, I used Dexcool. However, my mix is 30% coolant/70% water mix with a bottle of Royal Purple Cooling stuff in there.

Maybe I should have clarified the type of coolant used.
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Rickw
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Radiator Replacement    Sun Jun 27, 2010 8:03 pm

You find that mix to work good for you during all seasons up North.?
Or do you add more coolant to the mix before winter for freezing protection.?
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Abaddon
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Radiator Replacement    Sun Jun 27, 2010 9:56 pm

Rickw wrote:
You find that mix to work good for you during all seasons up North.?
Or do you add more coolant to the mix before winter for freezing protection.?

It hasn't frozen on me yet lol. If I recall right, the Royal Purple stuff recommends a 20/80 mix, and even lower 10/90 for "race" cars. I use 30/70 just in case.
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Radiator Replacement    Sun Jun 27, 2010 10:02 pm

I'll have to look into all that this year.
I want to do the LIM gaskets and naturally everything gets flushed and started over new.
Would like to look at the Royal Purple recommendations for the freeze as well as boil over protection.
After doing the LIM would like to keep everything nice and clean in the cooling system and it seems at that amount of coolant and additive it will make seasonal flushes that much easier to do as well.
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Radiator Replacement    Mon Jun 28, 2010 3:28 pm

Great writeup, Scott, especially with the arrows & circles to guide us thru the photos.

I have just one question: You said (and showed) that you transferred over the lower hose 'coupler'/assembly-line aid... Isn't the new hose long enough that you can go straight to the radiator nipple with it?
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Abaddon
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Radiator Replacement    Mon Jun 28, 2010 3:38 pm

Eldo wrote:
Great writeup, Scott, especially with the arrows & circles to guide us thru the photos.

I have just one question: You said (and showed) that you transferred over the lower hose 'coupler'/assembly-line aid... Isn't the new hose long enough that you can go straight to the radiator nipple with it?

Eh, as long as I help at least one person from the site, I'm happy happy

As far as the hose.....a new one may fit all the way to the nipple, but mine was in great shape, so I didn't replace it oops .
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Radiator Replacement    Mon Jun 28, 2010 6:00 pm

Abaddon wrote:

As far as the hose.....a new one may fit all the way to the nipple, but mine was in great shape, so I didn't replace it oops .

Ohhhhhhhhh... never mind!

( I hope that coupler hose isn't original... headshot )
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BMD
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Radiator Replacement    Mon Jun 28, 2010 11:31 pm

Yeah, why do that have that coupler anyway? The replacement hose sits flush up to the rad? Great write up by the way Scott, brings back memories. puke
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Abaddon
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Radiator Replacement    Tue Jun 29, 2010 8:46 am

I was actually surprised to see that coupler there. I saw it a went scratch Judging by the length of it, I would assume it was for factory assembly only? Because of the space?
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Radiator Replacement    Mon Jul 05, 2010 10:09 pm

Nice write up!

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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Radiator Replacement    Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:25 pm

I was able to attach the OEM-sized lower radiator hose directly to the radiator without the silly coupler thingy. Leaving the coupler in there caused mine to leak, even with 3 damn clamps holding it on. Based on my experience, I strongly recommend discarding the coupler and attaching the lower hose directly to the radiator.
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Radiator Replacement    Sat Apr 02, 2011 10:51 pm

I did my radiator today and was NOT able to get the factory hose to reach the radiator without the coupler. that thing is pretty ridiculous with 3 clamps in a 3 inch span. I'd like to add that I had a minor trans fluid leak on the bottom fitting after the install, ran to the auto store and bought a line wrench which allowed me to get a few more foot pounds on the fitting without stripping it, so a line wrench might be necessary for the install. my fittings were 5/8 and not 16mm.
also, the radiator I received was actually thicker than the factory unit requiring me to modify the lower bracket to fit. the upper bracket will not work and im going to end up grabbing some bolts, nuts, and washers to secure the fans at the top of the radiator.
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Radiator Replacement    Sun Apr 03, 2011 4:25 pm

GreenSupreme wrote:
I did my radiator today and was NOT able to get the factory hose to reach the radiator without the coupler. that thing is pretty ridiculous with 3 clamps in a 3 inch span. I'd like to add that I had a minor trans fluid leak on the bottom fitting after the install, ran to the auto store and bought a line wrench which allowed me to get a few more foot pounds on the fitting without stripping it, so a line wrench might be necessary for the install. my fittings were 5/8 and not 16mm.
also, the radiator I received was actually thicker than the factory unit requiring me to modify the lower bracket to fit. the upper bracket will not work and im going to end up grabbing some bolts, nuts, and washers to secure the fans at the top of the radiator.

That Radiator should've been returned as soon as you found all of this out. It's obviously not specifically for the Riv.....
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Radiator Replacement    Sun Apr 03, 2011 4:56 pm

Abaddon wrote:
GreenSupreme wrote:
I did my radiator today and was NOT able to get the factory hose to reach the radiator without the coupler. that thing is pretty ridiculous with 3 clamps in a 3 inch span. I'd like to add that I had a minor trans fluid leak on the bottom fitting after the install, ran to the auto store and bought a line wrench which allowed me to get a few more foot pounds on the fitting without stripping it, so a line wrench might be necessary for the install. my fittings were 5/8 and not 16mm.
also, the radiator I received was actually thicker than the factory unit requiring me to modify the lower bracket to fit. the upper bracket will not work and im going to end up grabbing some bolts, nuts, and washers to secure the fans at the top of the radiator.

That Radiator should've been returned as soon as you found all of this out. It's obviously not specifically for the Riv.....

Everything is the same and everything bolted up just fine with the exception of the radiator being half inch thicker. I look at it as a upgrade wink
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Radiator Replacement    Sun Apr 03, 2011 7:52 pm

Here is a picture showing the width of the radiator as well as the modification I made to mount the fans.
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Radiator Replacement    Tue Apr 05, 2011 5:21 pm

I got a similar rad for the 98. Thicker than the stock one, and I did almost the exact same thing as Todd did. I had to also change the mounting cause the stock metal fan mount thing was mostly rusted away. Man that sucker cools though with the 180 stat.

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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Radiator Replacement    Sun Jun 12, 2011 12:14 am

Why does the driver's side fan need to be removed before the passenger side fan?

I'd like to remove the passenger side fan only, if that's possible. So far I haven't been able to get the bottom to tilt out, to get at the power plug (why oh why couldn't GM have put it on top of the fan?).
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Radiator Replacement    Sat Jul 16, 2011 2:01 pm

This guide was a wonderful help to me! I appreciate your thoroughness. I did have no modify the bracket that the fans bolt to because the new radiator was a bit wider. I also had to turn it upside down to use it. I also had to turn the bleeder screw more than you suggested but not much more.

Again great guide to anyone who reads this!
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Radiator Replacement    Wed Jul 20, 2011 1:29 am

My plastic tank on the drivers side cracked. Replaced it today with a Comfort Temp "model 1779 " from a local radiator shop that listed at $188, I used a friends tax id and got it for $105 with no tax. It is an exact drop in replacement for my 1996. It came with both the top and bottom brackets, I had to reuse the locking clips from the original for the long screws that hold the fans . It was an easy job, the oil line holes lined up perfectly. I had 1 problem, after I filled the radiator it started to leak from the low level sensor so a trip to O'reilly and $1.20 got me 2 new O rings that solved the leak.
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Radiator Replacement    Sat Oct 08, 2011 1:17 pm

Just replaced mine and this write up was very helpful. One thing I notice is that when I pulled off the shroud, there was 13 years of debris caught up underneath.



So for anyone who hasn't done so in a while, it would probably be a good idea to pull this off once every couple years and clean the debris out. It was much worse than the pictures even suggested and I don't live down a dirt road.
Also, no mention of foam which sits on the top and to the sides of the radiator. I'm sure it's easy enough to replace although I was able to use my old stuff for now. It yours doesn't have it, than I would guess that all the debris you see in the pic will end on your engine. Replace the O rings to the coolant level sensor and that's it. Otherwise, great write up.
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Radiator Replacement    Tue Nov 29, 2011 10:18 am

Man, I'm on my third rad in ten years and now this one is starting to leak too. Is there a copper or aluminum version from the after market that exists, 'cause these plastic tanks suck. This leak is coming from the fan support that is built in to the rad, I know its probably repairable, but you still have to drain it and remove it to do a solid repair, and at that point you might aswell slide a new one in there. frown
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Radiator Replacement    Tue Nov 29, 2011 6:46 pm

BMD wrote:
Man, I'm on my third rad in ten years and now this one is starting to leak too. Is there a copper or aluminum version from the after market that exists, 'cause these plastic tanks suck. This leak is coming from the fan support that is built in to the rad, I know its probably repairable, but you still have to drain it and remove it to do a solid repair, and at that point you might aswell slide a new one in there. frown

I bet the real problem is your rad is banging around in its location - you can use extra weatherstripping foam around it when you replace it this time to cradle it in place. Foam is available at pretty much any hardware store/home center. Comes in rolls, neoprene or butyl, has an adhesive strip. Layer the strips to build bigger thicker sections.
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Radiator Replacement    Wed Nov 30, 2011 1:38 am

Getting ready to replace my radiator this weekend. She's gone 236k miles with almost no trouble - only a minor leak at the connection near the upper radiator hose. I've been keeping her full with water and water wetter over the summer. It's going to get cold soon; I figure if coolant is going back in there, no sense in letting it leak back out.

This write-up looks straightforward, should be helpful on Sunday when I start tearing stuff apart..

Gates upper & lower hoses ordered from Rockauto. Not a bad price at $30 for both.

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