Installing a Radiator

Author: Nationwide Autoparts   Date Posted:27 September 2017 

Installing a Radiator main image Installing a Radiator image

How do I diagnose a blocked radiator?

When diagnosing the issue with your radiator the most common symptom is usually that the car is still driving okay without overheating until the motor creates higher thermal load and then the temperature gauge climbs. This means that when traveling at higher speeds, towing or climbing hills, when the air conditioning is turned on or when the outside temperature is high, your temperature gauge is likely to rise. If your car runs smoothly in winter but overheats in summer, you can be fairly certain you have a blocked radiator.

Can I install my new radiator myself?

There are a few simple steps that need to be applied when fitting a new radiator. The first and most important is to try to analyse why the old radiator has failed. Replacing a radiator without fixing the problem may cause your new radiator to fail prematurely. This may involve replacing the thermostat, a very common fault causing overheating and radiator failure. All new radiators require the cooling system to be completely flushed with at least fresh water. Then the required amount of correct coolant as per the manufacturer's specifications needs to be added. Another useful thing to do with any installation is to replace the top and bottom radiator hose clamps. Mild steel clamps often jam up inside and do not create the necessary pressure on the hose, causing leakage or possibly the hose coming off altogether. You can learn more about installing your new radiator in our Radiator Installation Guide.

How do I select which radiator matches my vehicle?

To select which radiator matches your vehicle, simply search for your vehicles make and model using our user friendly searching navigation on our homepage. If you have any further questions you can contact our customer service team on 1300 529 723.

What brands of radiators do you supply?

We proudly supply from all of the major manufacturers that are available in Australia. We have buying deals with all of the importers and manufacturers giving you the best products, the best range and the best prices. These include Denso, Adrad, Jayrad, Natra, Visteon, Behr, Nissens, Motorkool and Koyo.

What is the 5 year warranty you offer on radiators?

We offer the best warranty in the industry so that you don't have to worry. How does it work? The usual statutory warranty of 2 years is applied and at the time of purchase you have a choice to extend the warranty for an additional 3 years making it a full 5 year warranty on your new radiator.

Should I change the thermostat when replacing the radiator?

It is recommended to change the thermostat when replacing your radiator. This doesn't mean that they are always faulty, but very often a failed radiator, an overheating car, or any blockage can cause a thermostat to fail. Or a faulty thermostat can cause a car to overheat and the radiator to fail. Some people believe they can be removed and tested, however the problem is that the thermostat may open under test, then jam again when installed. Most thermostats are available for under $40 and it is a good insurance and good maintenance to replace the thermostat at the same time as you replace the radiator.

What are the different types of radiators?

Radiators can be manufactured in a range of different materials. These include: Alloy/Plastic - most commonly used products for radiators today are an aluminium alloy core and plastic tanks with o-ring seals. These are lighter than any other type and preferred by OE manufacturers. Copper/Plastic - the first radiators to use plastic tanks had copper cores. Copper is a very good conductor of heat but slightly heavier than aluminium. Still used by some manufacturers but commonly found in cars made in the 1980's and 1990's. Copper/Brass - copper fins, brass tubes with brass tanks were used for the first 80 years of radiator manufacturing but are heavier than the other options. They are still used in many trucks, industrial and mining applications because of their high strength. Alloy - aluminium alloy tubes, fins and tanks welded on to the core. Although few OE manufacturers use this type, some vehicles can have the option of complete alloy radiators. All V8 supercars use all alloy radiators. Complete alloy radiators are lightweight and strong with good heat dispersion properties.

What coolant should I use when replacing my radiator?

Coolants are a very important step in caring for your radiator. We recommend you purchase an ethylene glycol based antifreeze/antiboil coolant. Whichever coolant you use we recommend you end up with 50% ethylene glycol and 50% water.

What do I use to flush the cooling system?

If your cooling system is particularly dirty we recommend using a specific radiator flush. A 500ml container is enough for most vehicles. Drain the cooling system completely then add flush and fill with fresh water before removal of the old radiator. Run the engine with the heater on for 10 minutes and then flush it completely again with fresh water.



Radiator Installation Guide

The following is a general guide to the removal and installation of a radiator.




1. Inspect the whole cooling system including the hoses, the water pump area and heater tap as well as checking for the existence of stray current. Any current in the cooling system must be repaired or neutralised.

2. Remove the radiator pressure cap and the water hoses.

3. Disconnect the oil lines by hand wrench (if applicable) taking care not to kink the oil lines or strip the fitting threads. Block the ends to ensure no loss of transmission fluid.

4. Disconnect the overflow pipe and heater return lines then remove the upper mounting brackets. Remove the fan shroud or move it to the side to ensure safe removal of your radiator.

5. It may be worth removing the thermostat and inspecting it. Any thermostat that has any score marks on the centre section should be replaced. This indicates that at certain times the thermostat has been sticking. Many radiators have failed due to faulty thermostats.

6. A sticking thermostat will cause your new radiator to fail. Replace the thermostat if you are unsure.

7. Separate the condenser from the radiator and hold the condenser in place.

8. IMPORTANT STEP MUST BE UNDERTAKEN: The whole cooling system (with the heater on) needs to be flushed before the radiator is removed. Drain the cooling system completely and refill with fresh water only. Run the engine with the heater on for 10 minutes and then flush completely again with fresh water. With most cars you will be able to connect a standard garden hose into the heater pipe to aid flushing.

9. Once your vehicle is cool you can remove the radiator.

10. Check that the old radiator and new radiator match. Swap over any clips or nuts from old to new and you can then begin to reinstall your new radiator. Always replace hose clamps as very often they do not hold the correct tension once used.

11. Place the new radiator into position very carefully leaving the mounting bolts loose until all lines and hoses have been connected. Connect oil lines by hand and reconnect the radiator hoses and overflow tube.

12. Tighten the mounting bolts for the radiator and fan shroud and double check everything is connected securely.

13. Fill the radiator with an ethylene glycol based coolant at minimum 50% ratio and top up with water. Run the motor and depending on the vehicle you may need to bleed the system of air through the cooling system bleed screw. Allow the vehicle to warm up until you have confirmed that the thermostat has opened and the thermo fans have cycled on and off.

14. Re-inspect the complete cooling system for leaks around hoses etc.

15. Top up the radiator with extra coolant if required (be very careful if you are taking the cap off a hot cooling system that is under pressure). Inspect the radiator cap for swelling or cracks in the rubber. If faulty then replace.

16. If you are not comfortable completing the above work then please arrange a qualified mechanic to install your radiator.