How to Replace a Radiator (Complete Guide)

How to Replace a Radiator (Complete Guide)


Hey guys Chrisfix here and today I’m going to show you how to replace a radiator in your car or in your truck I’m gonna go into detail and show you all the tips and tricks to make this job super simple and at the end of the video after you’re done watching you two will be able to replace your Radiator at home and save yourself a ton of money now We’ll be replacing the radiator on my truck and this is actually a really good example of a radiator replacement this is one of the more difficult ones because we have an automatic transmission and we have transmission cooler lines going into this radiator if You have a manual transmission. You probably won’t have that also, it is pretty tight in here So we will be working in a tight area. But even though it is a little bit more difficult It’s still really simple to do this as you will find out in a few minutes now The reason why we’re replacing the radiator in my truck is because once you start her up, you could see right away There’s a crack in the radiator that’s causing the coolant to shoot out and make that belt squeal loud and one of the main reasons Why your radiator might fail like this is because the coolant was never changed or it wasn’t changed at the proper interval in this case It’s supposed to be changed every three to five years but right away, if you look at this radiator cap, that doesn’t look good There’s sludge there’s rust and this whole system is rusted up. That’s because the previous owner never changed the coolant I was actually the first person to change the coolant in this truck and try to do a complete flush and it did help it last longer But eventually that radiator did leak but that’s okay because we have a brand new one and here all the tools and products you need To replace a radiator. We’re going to keep it real simple. We’re using all common hand tools We have a flare nut wrench set you need a pliers need a ratchet some sockets and extensions and then a spill proof funnel is super helpful when we go at our new coolant to the new radiator and Product wise we have a brand new high quality radiator with a good warranty But that’s not all I’m going to install since we have everything apart It’s a good idea for extra reliability replace your lower radiator hose your upper radiator hose your thermostat and your radiator cap It’s only a couple extra bucks more and it gives you that reliability You’re also going to need some 50/50 antifreeze You could do straight antifreeze and mix it with distilled water. And we’re going to need a little bit of transmission fluid Make sure you choose the right type for your vehicle because we’re going to be removing the transmission cooler lines now I do want to thank Advance Auto Parts for helping support the video get me all these products so I could show you guys How to install a radiator in your vehicle? So thank you very much And with that said let’s get started. And there’s one thing I want to show you real quick super-important You might be tempted to use one of these radiator sealers that are easy to use and they’re also very inexpensive But I highly recommend that you avoid using sealers like these unless if it’s a complete Emergency how this works is you take the radiator cap off and you would add this directly to your coolant the problem Is that this stuff will clog the leak? But it could also clog the passageways in your radiator or even heater core and just to give you a real-life example the previous owner Of my del Sol used a radiator sealer and a head gasket sealer And here’s what it looks like inside pry this open with a screwdriver If we take a look, okay under here, you can see that copper area right there That’s the head gasket sealer, and there’s all this like gummy sludgy stuff here That is a radiator sealer And if we take a look at the top of the radiator all these slots are what allow the coolant to flow through the radiator And then into the engine and cool the engine, so it’s important that these slots stay clog-free But you can see that sealer actually clogged up a couple of these slots So while this stuff can work and it can seal your leaks I highly recommend that you don’t use it unless if it’s emergency and instead get yourself a replacement radiator to install and I’m gonna show You how to do that right now. So let’s get started Now the first step to do before we start draining any coolant before we start taking the old radiator out the first thing you want To do very important is make sure you flush your cooling system now I already did a video on how to super flush your cooling system where we went from this really dark Sludgy coolant and we flushed it out multiple times Until we completely clean the cooling system and I’ll be sure to link this video in the description below so you can easily find it It’s important that you flush out the entire cooling system get rid of all that dirty contaminated coolant before you install your nice new radiator It’d be a shame to install the radiator and then run that dirty coolant through it which kind of defeats the purpose Once your cooling system is completely flushed like it is on my truck The next thing to do is drain the coolant but before we touch anything Make sure your engine is cold You don’t want to open up a radiator cap with a hot engine because scalding coolant could come flying out and that wouldn’t be good So now we’re gonna open up this radiator cap with a cold engine and we’re gonna go under the vehicle to drain the coolant now you’re gonna find your coolant drain plug at one of the bottom corners of your radiator like this right here if you don’t have a Coolant drain plug then you can remove your lower radiator hose and let it drain from there But in this case, we have a drain plug so I’m gonna loosen it up and we’re gonna let the coolant drain it a bucket Now as we let that drain we could do some stuff up here at the top by the engine bay And the first thing we need to do is remove the negative cable on the battery. Now, you might be asking yourself Why would you do that? We’re just removing the radiator and the answer actually makes a lot of sense there are airbag sensors that are typically right next to the radiator in the front for a front collision if you’re removing your radiator and You hit one of those sensors by mistake you could cause the airbag to go off and just to be safe It’s not worth the risk. All you need to do is remove the negative cable on the battery And with that removed now, we could start removing our radiator. And since it’s pretty tight up here to make it easier I’m gonna remove our air intake to give us a lot more access so first Let’s unscrew the hose clamp holding the intake to the throttle body and then slip the hose right off Good now we can remove the mass airflow sensor wiring harness and unclip the intake hose from the airbox and check this out This is what you get for letting your truck sit for two weeks. It looks like we had a chipmunk or something Leave his food inside our airbox and that’s why your intake has a filter so sorry mr. Chipmunk You’re gonna have to find a new place to store your nuts And with all that cleaned out now we can focus on removing our radiator and it’s really simple All we have to do is remove our upper and lower radiator hoses on the other side We have two transmission cooler lines coming in We need to remove then we have the fan shroud and we unbolt the radiator and it’ll come right out So let’s first focus on removing the upper radiator hose So grab your pliers and clamp down onto the hose clamp and slide it off the end of the hose Now the hardest part for removing a hose is pulling the hose off Usually it’s stuck on the end here but a trick that works really well with the hose Twist it so it breaks free. And once the hose is twisted give it a wiggle and it should come off just like that So we got the upper radiator hose off now. Let’s get the lower radiator hose off So this is the same process use your pliers Clamp down on that hose clamp and slide it out of the way And as you can see, this hose is really stuck on here. And this is where that twist trick comes in handy I’m gonna use my pliers and just twist the hose back and forth to loosen it up and now it should slide right off beautiful and with that lower radiator hose disconnected Let’s move to the top of the engine bay and disconnect our transmission cooler lines We have one up here and we have one down there now to disconnect these try not to use a regular Open-ended wrench the problem is there’s only two contact points for the flare nut So if you loosen it you could strip the flare nut So instead use one of these flare-nut wrenches you can see it has more sides So there’s more contact that way you won’t strip the flare nut Now it’s very important that you pay attention here as you loosen this flare nut Make sure this line isn’t twisting as well This line shouldn’t move sometimes what happens is the flare nut and the line here get stuck together And as you loosen the flare nut This line will twist and you could break it that way if that does happen just use some heat or penetrating fluid and that’ll help Separate the to good the flare nut is spinning but the line is stationary. Just what we want And before we loosen it all the way I’m gonna get a paper towel under here because this might leak out some fluid so just hand loosen it the rest of the way till the flare nut comes off and now we’re gonna just pull this out and Look at that. We didn’t even make a mess. It’s not even leaking So with the top transmission cooler line removed now, we could go down and remove the bottom one It’s a little tight down here. There we go And it looks like the whole fitting is spinning with the flare nut, which is another problem You could run into luckily All you need is a big wrench to hold the fitting in place as you loosen up the nut just like that good So with both transmission cooler lines removed now We need to remove the fan shroud and we’ll do that by removing two bolts starting with this bolt right here So just loosen it up with your ratchet Just like that now head over to the other side of the fan shroud and we’ll loosen the second bolt Which is the last one holding the shroud in place? Good now we can pull the shroud up and rest it on the cooling fan and now there’s only two bolts holding our radiator in We have one bolt on this side and one bolt on the exact opposite side And then at the bottom here this radiator is only held in by a bracket So once we unbolt it, we could just lift it up off the bracket So let’s go and unscrew this bolt right here And it’s nice that all these bolts are the same size. So we don’t have to waste time changing sockets Good now go back to the other side and this is the last bolt holding the radiator in and one last thing we need to Do is just disconnect this line that goes to the coolant overflow tank Now our radiator is ready to come out All you have to do is give it a little wiggle and pull it up and it should come right out just like that beautiful Now I’m going to set this on the floor right here And with the radiator removed, there’s enough clearance to remove the fan shroud good and I’ll keep that down here as well And now we could install our brand new radiator. Now before we do that. I always like to do preventative maintenance There’s a couple things on this truck that I need to do and now is the perfect time because look at all this space here Without a radiator there’s plenty of room so what I’m gonna be doing is I’m gonna be installing a brand new belt tensioner because my belt squeaks when it gets wet and I know the tensioner is causing a misalignment and I’m gonna be installing a brand new water pump It’s the perfect pair for installing your brand new radiator. I’m gonna do that real quick right now so first We need to remove the serpentine belt Then remove the engine fan remove the idler pulley and the belt tensioner assembly And the whole power steering Assembly has to be unbolted and moved out of the way as well as the air conditioner compressor then we could finally get to the water pump and it’s out with the old water pump then clean the gasket surface and in with The new water pump and gasket now Everything has to go back together starting with the power steering pump assembly and then the AC compressor then a brand new belt tensioner assembly Then an idler pulley and engine fin and finally put the belt back on now with that preventative maintenance done Let’s get back to installing our brand new radiator And what we’re gonna do next is we’re gonna go and install our upper and lower radiator hoses as well as our thermostat So let’s start with our upper radiator hose, which is this right here and it connects right down there to our thermostat housing So just like before Remove the clamp and move it to the top of the hose Then twist the hose to break it free and pull it up and off now The thermostat housing is held in by two bolts So remove both of those that’s one and that’s to then remove the housing and finally the old thermostat now We need to remove the gasket So shove a towel in the hole so we don’t get any debris in there and then use a plastic scraper to scrape the old Gasket off good and finish it off with an embrace of sponge to get it nice and clean beautiful With the surface cleaned and smooth we are ready to install the new thermostat but first what I like to do is drill a small hole in the thermostat to allow the air to Bleed out without the thermostat having to be open So first Center punch it and then use the 1/16 inch or smaller drill bit to make a hole just like that Perfect. And this is a little trick. That’s super helpful It’s gonna make bleeding the air out of your cooling system When we add the new coolant very easy And you won’t overheat you won’t get any hot spots and the hole is small enough It allows air through but very little coolant through so our thermostat could still function as it should so now with that drilled Let’s go install it So first put the gasket down and then we’re gonna install the thermostat you want the spring of the thermostat down into the engine so that’s gonna be sitting right there like that then put the thermostat housing on hand tighten the bolts and Then torque them down to ten foot-pounds Good now we can install our brand new radiator hose remember to get your old clips off your old hose you could reuse these as long as they’re not rusty or bent but instead of Reusing this clip because these are our pain to get off sometimes I’m gonna use a stainless steel hose clamp instead So push the hose down onto the thermostat housing and make sure you push it all the way down to the base of the housing Right there and then we could easily tighten down the hose clamp with a nut driver make sure it’s not coming off and good Let’s do the same thing for the lower radiator hose Remove the clamp with the pliers and pull the hose off the fitting Good now we need to get the top part off which is right up here And this is why I prefer the stainless steel hose clamps rather than these stock ones because these are sometimes difficult to remove Especially in tight places with all the clamps removed. This should come right off out with the old hose and in with the new Finally tighten down the hose clamp here and up here So with our hoses installed now we could go and install our brand new radiator but first you want to make sure that you take everything off the old radiator and Transplant it onto the new one in this case. It’s very simple We just have this one shroud right up here that we’re gonna take off We’re gonna put on here but on some cars it’s a little bit more than that You might have an electric fan like this and then there’s four bolts that are holding in the electric fan When you unscrew those bolts this whole assembly will come out and then you could transplant that onto the new radiator So with our radiator all set up and ready to go, let’s get our fan shroud in first And then now we could go and install our radiator Be cautious with the new radiator because the little aluminum fins are easy to bend and damage so carefully get it in place plug in The hose that goes to the coolant overflow tank mount the fan shroud against the radiator and bolt it in so that it’s snug Since we’re here we might as well tighten down the bolt to hold the radiator in as well And we also have the transmission cooler lines to install. So make sure you hand tighten the flare nuts first You don’t cross thread them and then snug them down with a wrench and do the same exact thing for the bottom cooler line Since we’re down here, let’s attach the lower radiator hose and tighten the hose clamp good now on the other side of the radiator Let’s tighten down the bolt holding in the fan shroud and the bolt holding in the radiator So the radiator is completely bolted in then attach the upper radiator hose and tighten the clamp down Finally get the air filter in followed by the intake tubing and tighten down the clamp securing it to the throttle body Also, don’t forget to reconnect and tighten the negative cable on the battery Now we can fill up the radiator with coolant So attach the adapter that fits on your radiator and push the no-spill funnel in alright with our funnel in place Now we need to add our coolant and always check your owner’s manual and make sure you’re adding the correct type of coolant in this Case we definitely want a 50/50 mix and I’m gonna be using a universal green coolant Now we have two options right here we have a pre-mixed 50:50 antifreeze water mix or we have our Concentrate where we have to add our water to get that 50/50 ratio, this is nice for convenience But it is more expensive and this is cheaper, but you do have to mix it with your own water And if you are mixing it with your own water, make sure you get distilled water without any minerals ed It has to be completely pure water. Any minerals will allow electrolysis in your cooling system And that wouldn’t be good that eats away all the metals. So in this case, I’m going to be using the premix for convenience So fill the radiator and cooling system up in this truck My owner’s manual says the cooling system should take 9.5 quarts of coolant and as the funnel empties just add more coolant So now that our coolant isn’t going down any more. Let’s go inside the truck and start her up And with the truck running we’re gonna go over to the climate controls I’m gonna turn the heat on make sure it’s on all the way and that’s gonna allow the coolant to circulate through the heater core so we could get all the air blood out now on your dashboard The one thing you want to pay attention to is right here your temperature gauge You just want to keep an eye on your temperature gauge here and make sure it doesn’t go up to the hot It should stabilize right around half if it goes up to hot either don’t have enough coolant or there’s air in the system so every one so I’ll Just come back and check on this and as we let the engine run we have a couple of things we want to check in The engine bay first thing you want to make sure that you keep your funnel filled with coolant all the time What’s happening is the water pump is spinning It’s sucking coolant in and hopefully forcing the air bubbles out since this is the tallest point in the cooling system The air bubbles are going to come up and out of the cooling system through the funnel and I just want to show you something real quick on some cars you might have a bleeder valve built into the cooling system like in this case here all you have to Do is fill the cooling system and then crack your bleeder valve just like that Make sure the cool comes out with no bubbles and then close it when the cooler comes out with no bubbles that means you have led this system and that just gives you another easy way to help you get all the air out of the cooling system We also want to make sure that we check all the connections and fittings that we undid to make sure there’s no leaks So I’m gonna make sure every hose that we replaced every connection that we removed. There are no leaks at all So just give that a quick inspection so far so good One of the easiest ways to check for a leak is just to go under the vehicle and look for anything Dripping and I don’t see anything here so as we let the engine run another thing that we want to do is check our transmission fluid since we did lose some in The old radiator and as expected we’re low on fluid. It should be filled up to here So get a funnel and be sure to use the proper transmission fluid specified in your owners manual. I’m down about a quart So I’m gonna be using this whole container. So let’s remove the funnel and let’s see what we get Perfect. Now you can see this is filled to the proper level So with our transmission topped off and completely full that is done and I’m taking a look at this coolant level here And this hasn’t gone down So that means this is full and all the air is bled out Now we could push the stopper in the funnel and remove it We also need to remove the adapters and install our radiator cap But we’re not going to reuse the old one and instead we’re gonna put in a nice new one and you always want to check The old one is a 16 psi cap and the new one is 16 as well. Good So now we know we have the proper cap for our system and with our radiator cap Installed the last thing that we need to do is come over to the coolant reservoir and top this off we don’t want to fill this all the way just to the hot fill line since the engine is warm beautiful and we are Completely done now that is how you replace your radiator. We went from this old leaking radiator that didn’t cool very well plus some old parts like the water pump the hoses and we installed a brand new CARQUEST radiator with a Lifetime warranty one last thing you want to make sure that you put your old dirty coolant in a sealed container So animals like your dog don’t drink it because it does taste sweet and it is boys eNOS and you could recycle coolant at your local advance auto parts store a Mechanic shot or your town’s recycle center. So there you go Make sure you recycle your coolant and that is how you replace a radiator in your car or a truck it is that simple? Hopefully all the tips and tricks were helpful. If it was remember to give the video a thumbs up also
If you’re not a subscriber consider hitting that subscribe button For more videos just like this and as always all the tools and products are linked in the description One more quick tip you want to make sure that you have hot heat if you don’t have hot heat coming out That means you have air in your system. You also want to go for a shakedown ride Make sure your car isn’t running hot and everything is performing properly. So I’m gonna go do that right now

About the Author: Michael Flood

100 Comments

  1. Get your daily "FIX" here on Instagram (like the turbo kit I am about to post): https://www.instagram.com/ChrisFixit/

    Also, I got another discount code for 25% off your entire order from Advance Auto… Use code "RADIATOR" for 25% off anything (not just radiators). I got that code for you guys and for myself lol… I dont make any money off of it and the idea is to try to make fixing your car even more affordable, so put it to good use!!!

  2. i try what i watch but sadly after removed all the parts i dont know how to put it back. 😁😁😁. ending i call a mechanic to fix what ive done. 😇

  3. @ChrisFix Oletko Suomalainen vaikka puhut Englantia, vai miksi muuten videon otsikko on suomeksi ja muut videon lisätiedot.

  4. Hey guys! I actually stripped one of my transmission cooler lines using a flare nut wrench :/. I tried heat and wd-40 with vice grips. Anyone have any ideas for how to get it off and put the line back on the new radiator? Thanks

  5. I need to do this since after flushing my coolant multiple times it's still not clear, but looks like too much work for just me sadly. Still great to see though!

  6. If I have oil in my coolant what’s wrong with it? ( plz I really don’t know if it the head gasket or the radiator

  7. I replaced 2 front rotors and all 4 brakes in a Nissan Xterra, first time ever, it was a lot of work, I got helped from a mechanic but it was not easy since car was old and rusty too.

  8. Just wanna day thanks for your videos!!!! Make them super easy to understand and have helped me do a coolant flush and tranny fluid change with filter. Saved me 330$. Never done it before and wouldn’t have tried if it wasn’t for your videos. Thanks buddy

  9. @ChrisFix. I bought a 96 GMC Sonoma from my girlfriends grandpa. He hasn’t driven it in over 4 years. The radiator needs replaced, would it be recommended to go ahead and replace the water pump at the same time? I’m already planning on replacing the thermostat, along with the upper and lower hoses.

  10. Very helpful video!! But I'm a little stuck… I followed your directions exactly… How do I get my pants unstuck from the rear brake??

  11. Number of people who watch Chris Fix videos: 2 million. Number of people who take on the repairs: 10. This guy is so awesome.

  12. Congratulations Chrisfix! I was looking at an ad flyer for Advance Auto store and they had links to your videos in the ad. That is amazing. You are truly one of the best how to guys on YouTube.

  13. not really that simple. Considering all the vehicles are configured a bit differently. You need watch this five times and that stare at your car for a couple of hours before you begin. To remember all the fittings screws, you have document all the steps so you can retrace it. Great video though, makes me motivated to maintain the system so I don't have to do this. Coolant flush and a good radiator cap seems to be a good idea.

  14. I am in awe. This video is so professionally well-done it is a little eerie. Every last detail was addressed. It is perfection. There really isn't anything that could have been improved! YOU EVEN HAD ROVER IN THE BACKGROUND!!! WTF!!!

  15. If only this video came out 3 years ago. Would have saved me $387… keep up the good work man anyone who saves me money is a good guy in my book.

  16. So if I'm changing my radiator aswell how do I go about flushing my coolant out, I've taken out my old radiator already but I need to use the old radiator to do this and then put the new one in right?

  17. i wwnt into the store and the closest thing I could find to this "distilled wooder" you speak of was distilled waater, would this work؟

  18. In my 1997 Toyota Camry, There was coolant leaking from lower radiator hose, so we replaced the entire radiator with new hoses and coolant. Best job that was done to my 22 year old car. The thermostat was in good condition still and the radiator cap was from japan. It was cool to see the original Japanese writing that was on my old radiator cap.

  19. The radiator in my dream car is shot and needs to be replaced. (CLICK) Here is the answer to that question! (Clip activates) Chris: Hey guys ChrisFix here! Nice thinking ChrisFix!

  20. Hey ChrisFix. Would you a vid on the basic items you use and the uses for them. Explaining Anti Seize, lubricant you use to get the rusted nuts off, silicon paste uses, etc, or maybe setup a store on amazon with the products you use. Thanks. very much appreciate your videos.

  21. Hey Chris, what's your opinion on Evan's NPG+ waterless coolant? Been wanting to do it in my diesel, heard some vehicles run hotter, there's so much mixed facts out there

  22. What's up man I have a question my radiator leaked everything out the other day has a small hole in it I'm going to be replacing the radiator but theres nothing there anymore everything leaked out and it was almost like it only had water was very clear no color to it. Whould i still have to flush it or just replace the new radiator and add the new coolant

  23. I like how simple he makes it I feel confident that If I ever need to I could do this lol I don’t believe I’ll need to replace mine for a good while (2014 v6 mustang)

  24. I wish my radiator were that easy to take off, i have to take the whole front end of my car off cause the a/c condenser and intercooler are mounted onto the radiator 😣

  25. Just an FYI. In States where the temperatures get below freezing, make sure to keep an eye on your clamps after this repair, as they will allow for a cold weather leak. Just tighten them up, but do not over-tighten them. Also, you may want to do a 60/40 mix of antifreeze. Do not over concentrate your mix, and the best way to check your mix for protection level is with a refractometer.

  26. Just a word of advise from myself being electronically qualified. Always remove your Positive terminal first. You leave yourself exposed to voltages with the negative terminal loose and the positive still connected. Brilliant video non the less. 🙂

  27. I'm very clumsy…. Trying to fix one thing, I break another thing… I just watch your vids so I can talk to car mechanic without being so confused what is wrong with my car…

  28. Hey Chris, I have a 2001 Mustang Bullitt GT and I bought a new radiator for the automatic transmission but the car has a manual transmission. Would I have to plug the transmisson line ports with something?

  29. Hey Chris,

    I just wanted to say thanks so much for making these videos. I've already saved hundreds changing oil, cleaning the MAF, cleaning batteries, restoring headlights, flushing radiators brake lines and transmissions in my car. Will replace the wife's hybrid battery too, when that happens. I follow the mantra "do it once, do it right" and I'm glad you show the complete methods (torquing, threadlocking, etc).

    Haven't owned a car in 6 years (until now) so working on this thing has been a blast because of your vids.

    Thanks for your time and effort buddy, it impacts plenty of us!

  30. Thanks for your videos man. I just replaced the radiator, all hoses for silicones, thermostat, sensors – just a complete cooling system overhaul on my Saab 900 OG. And everything worked on first try 🙂

  31. When i subscribed a year and 2 months ago he had 2 or 3 million subscribers….

    He Now Has 5.55 Million Subscribers

  32. Cris, when you say simple it actually is simple. Many people are scared to work on cars cause they think they might break something and it's really complicated, but you explain everything in such detail that "it really is that simple."

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