While every car’s cooling system and radiator installation is different, there are some universal steps to replacing a radiator that can save you a lot of headaches. Follow these steps with whatever car you’re working on and you might avoid lost time and skinned knuckles.
Study the job to determine what your game plan is in removing the radiator.How many cooling lines are attached to the radiator? Does it have an electric or a belt driven fan? Do the air conditioner lines interfere with the removal? How is the radiator mounted to the car? Does the grill have to be removed? Does the radiator come out from the top or the bottom? Answer these questions as you determine how to remove the radiator.
Disconnect the negative battery connection. Once the radiator is cooled down, remove the radiator cap and place a coolant drain pan under the drain valve and open it, catching the coolant in the pan. Move the pan to just under the lower radiator hose and remove it from the radiator. Disconnect the upper radiator hose and any other hose connections in the radiator.
Now, determine what additional attachments are left on the radiator and whether having the radiator solidly mounted is helpful, or whether loosening the radiator from the radiator support offers better access to the other parts. If it is a good idea to leave the radiator firmly mounted and you have a clear shot at the transmission and engine cooler lines, now is the time to loosen those lines. Place a separate drain pan under these lines to recover any fluid or motor oil that may drip. If the car is equipped with a radiator mounted cooling fan disconnect it as well.
Once you have removed all the attachments, remove the radiator and compare it to the replacement you have on hand. Be sure to check the overall length and width as well as the diameter of the necks. Also check for any ports for swiches and sensors which should all exist in the new radiator. Make sure the the threads for the coolers are the same and, if not, look for a hardware kit supplied with the new radiator in order to retrofit the replacement.