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Dummies’ Guide for Replacing a Busted Radiator


A busted radiator is costly to fix and a huge problem to go through. After all, it’s a hassle to wait in line at your local auto workshop just to have it repaired or replaced. But what if you could do it on your own at the comfort of your garage? Actually, you can. It doesn’t take an automotive engineer to do it right, and the tools and parts you need are available at your local car parts shop.

So, what are you waiting for? Follow the steps below; here’s our Dummies’ Guide for Replacing a Busted Radiator.

Step 1: Have the Necessary Parts

You can’t repair a busted radiator just by tinkering with it; you’re going to need the necessary parts with you. Make sure you have all of the following: radiator hoses, hose clamps, nuts, bolts, a thermostat, fresh coolants, and of course, a replacement radiator. Aside from the parts, you should also have the tools to perform specific actions you can’t do with your bare hands. Have a set of wrenches, large containers/drain pans, pliers/screwdriver for hose clamps, funnel, penetrating oil, and a utility knife at the ready. Having them near you will save you a lot of time and effort.

Step 2: Take Note of the Condition of Hoses and Other Connections

The first thing you have to do is to check the hoses for signs of deterioration – swelling near the clamps, soft spots, and cracks – to know if they should already be replaced. If you find any of the following, replace them. And since thermostat is relatively cheap, replace it as well.

Step 3: Check for Rust in the Cooling System

A visual check is not enough to determine condition of the radiator hoses. For a more accurate assessment, squeeze them. If you feel or hear crunching, that means the insides have already rusted. In that case, flush the old coolant system to ensure that there will be no rust residues that will be carried over to the new one.

Step 4: Disconnect All Hoses, the Fan Motor, and Other Electrical Connectors

Disconnect all the hoses that are connected to the radiator, the fan motor, and the electrical connectors. Then check for braces that bolt the radiator to the frame and remove them accordingly. For the easy and proper detachments of the radiator from those parts, use penetrating oil on the bolts, clamps, and braces.

Step 5: Remove the Busted Radiator

Have you already disconnected the radiator from the parts that are attached to it and those that attach it to the car? If so, then do a final visual check on your radiator. So, has everything been it’s time to take it out of the engine. When done, pull out the radiator carefully. If it easily comes off, then you have done the previous steps correctly, so you have nothing to worry about.

Step 6: Install New Assembly

Once the busted radiator has been properly removed, it’s time to replace it with the new one. Put the latter in its proper place, reconnect everything you have disassembled, and replenish all the necessary fluids to their appropriate levels.

There you go! Now that your radiator has been repaired, you can now once again hit the road. And if it breaks again in the not-so-near future, you’ll no longer panic because you already know what to do.

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