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Old 11-07-2010, 06:19 AM   #1
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Cool DIY radiator replacement??

Hi guys

Just looking for a little feedback on how realistic (or unrealistic) it is for me to replace a leaky radiator on my 2003 Sahara. I'm a complete novice, but kind of smart (lol) and would have help from my dad. I have a small leak and my mechanic is telling me I MUST replace with a brand spankin' new one ($450 later ) Any tips/advice? Thanks!!

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Old 11-07-2010, 06:24 AM   #2
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Change it out yourself...very simple with basic hand tools.

Here is a write-up for the install....
TJ Radiator Replacement - 1

If you have any questions let us know.

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Old 11-07-2010, 06:27 AM   #3
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And here you go for the radiator....

Radiators, automotive radiators, condenser, oem radiators, truck radiators

Get the second one on the page "2row".
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Old 11-07-2010, 06:33 AM   #4
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Thank you so much 'distortedtj' ....lookin' into it right now
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Old 11-07-2010, 06:35 AM   #5
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Should be doable for sure, especially with some help. I was a novice when I replaced my first radiator way back when. A shop will charge somewhere between 1 to 2 hours depending, allowing 0.1 hour for automatic transmission. Good luck with your project.

The following Threads may be of some help. Dodgeparts.com has OE parts. Might want to price a radiator out there (Go to "OEM Catalog").

1. Recent Thread re leak.
2. Recent Thread re coolant strength
3. Sources of DIY information.
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Old 11-07-2010, 06:59 AM   #6
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Hi guys

Just looking for a little feedback on how realistic (or unrealistic) it is for me to replace a leaky radiator on my 2003 Sahara. I'm a complete novice, but kind of smart (lol) and would have help from my dad. I have a small leak and my mechanic is telling me I MUST replace with a brand spankin' new one ($450 later ) Any tips/advice? Thanks!!
Everybody is losing their radiator lately. I just replaced mine recently with the one Tim recommended above. (The CSF 2 row from Rdiator Barn) and I am very happy with it so far. Basic hand tools is all you'll need.
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Old 11-07-2010, 07:20 AM   #7
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I just did mine a couple days ago. Go for it, it is do-able for a novice. Plus, you will have a lot of cool cuts on your hands to show your friends!
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Old 11-07-2010, 09:13 AM   #8
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This is why mechanics wear gloves..... Gotta order mine this week and fortunately I have a buddy who owes me a favor, so I just gotta buy parts. What parts other than the radiator would you guys replace at the same time?
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Old 11-07-2010, 09:16 AM   #9
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Don't forget to burp the system to get all the air out. Usually just compress and release the upper hose. ALso getting new upper and lower hoses is a good idea. don't forget to get the coil spring out of the lower hose.
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Old 11-07-2010, 09:20 AM   #10
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This is why mechanics wear gloves..... Gotta order mine this week and fortunately I have a buddy who owes me a favor, so I just gotta buy parts. What parts other than the radiator would you guys replace at the same time?
OEM 195* thermostat and gasket too Linda.

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Don't forget to burp the system to get all the air out. Usually just compress and release the upper hose. ALso getting new upper and lower hoses is a good idea. don't forget to get the coil spring out of the lower hose.
Hmm. I didn't burp mine. I've been driving it for a couple of weeks with no issues. Should I do it anyway or is it too late to matter?
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Old 11-07-2010, 09:22 AM   #11
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OEM 195* thermostat and gasket too Linda.



Hmm. I didn't burp mine. I've been driving it for a couple of weeks with no issues. Should I do it anyway or is it too late to matter?
If your temp is good, not an issue.
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Old 11-07-2010, 09:23 AM   #12
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If your temp is good, not an issue.
Good, I kept a close eye on it the first few days. Never an issue.
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Old 11-07-2010, 11:01 AM   #13
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I haven't had a problem with air entrapment as long as the vehicle is level when filling it / running it / topping it up.
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Old 11-07-2010, 11:05 AM   #14
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Tip: Avoid losing blood and bending the fins.

Tape cardboard to the finned area before dropping the new one in to protect you and the radiator.

Don't forget to remove it afterward.
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Old 11-07-2010, 11:17 AM   #15
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I agree; DIY is indicated here for your Wrangler. If you have a Cherokee, forget it! I spent 8+ hours changing that thing out.

Go for the 3-row copper unit! Radiator Barn is an excellent source and the equipment is top-drawer.

Be sure to change out the thermostat and all hoses with OEM quality or better. Flush everything out well with water, drain, and use only G-05 HOAT coolant and distilled water if spec'd. (AFAIK, everything 2001+ uses G-05.) And have friends on the standby. And stock up on cold beer....
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Old 11-07-2010, 11:31 AM   #16
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Everyone always changes the upper and lower hoses and forget the heater hoses and guess what pops a hole with the cell phone at 0 bars lol
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Old 11-07-2010, 12:08 PM   #17
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You guys are awesome. Much thanks ....

this may be a stupid :/ question, but is repairing a minor leak with a stop-leak additive a thing of the past? Recommended, not recommended??
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Old 11-07-2010, 01:07 PM   #18
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You guys are awesome. Much thanks ....

this may be a stupid :/ question, but is repairing a minor leak with a stop-leak additive a thing of the past? Recommended, not recommended??
I would use it only one time. Your heater lines are constantly flowing (no shut off valve in the lines like in yesteryear) so there's no concern for summer time shut down (plugging) there. Here's how they work, including pepper.
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Old 11-07-2010, 05:22 PM   #19
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Just different forms of Cholesterol.
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Old 11-08-2010, 07:00 AM   #20
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Just different forms of Cholesterol.
Maybe we can add eggs to the list of stop leaks.

The "original green" / "conventional green" antifreeze contained lots of silicates that are beneficial to coating the inards of the cooling system and stopping small leaks.

Years ago, the heater system had a control valve in a heater line meaning the flow was stopped during the summer. Then when winter rolled around, the system would be plugged. Now days the heater systems are continuously flowing so lot less chance of plugging up.

No matter what antifreeze is used, there is a coating applied to the cooling/heater system by it, some coating later than sooner.

So, a little cholesterol is good.

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Conventional green antifreeze formulations usually contain a number of inorganic corrosion inhibitors that provide immediate corrosion protection because they maintain the pH of the solution (buffer it), but are consumed or transformed chemically as they perform their functions. As the coolant is heated and cooled, and exposed to air, the components of the conventional antifreeze additive package are depleted over time. This causes the pH to drop, and is why the coolant should be changed out every two years or 24,000 miles.

Dexcool-type extended life coolants use organic acid technology to inhibit corrosion, and are referred to as OAT based coolants. OAT antifreezes are touted as having longer potential service life than conventional antifreezes because of the fact that the components in the additive package are not chemically consumed as they perform their function of inhibiting corrosion. The chemicals used in the OAT type formulas protect metals from corrosion by forming a thin, molecular coating on them, and because of this, are not as fast acting as conventional inorganic formulas. However, as long as the cooling system is kept sufficiently full and coolant is not lost due to leakage nor diluted by top-off with water or conventional antifreeze, it will continue to function properly. Unfortunately, if the cooling system is not properly maintained, a “red muck” is likely to form and could cause serious cooling system problems.

The third type of antifreeze on the market today is the hybrid OAT, known as HOAT (or G O-5). One of the primary problems with OAT formulations is that they are not compatible with conventional antifreezes. The chemicals used in OAT antifreeze react to some extent with some of the inorganic salts and other components in conventional antifreeze. The result of this interaction is the generation of cloudiness and precipitates. HOAT formulations are called hybrid because the additive package contains ingredients from both OAT and conventional formulas and is compatible with both.
Hybrid OAT antifreezes provide both fast acting and extended life corrosion protection, eliminate the problem of anti- freeze compatibility, and therefore are compatible with all types and colors of antifreeze.

Unfortunately, many automotive professionals consider all extended life antifreeze to be “Dexcool” and associate all the problems related to “Dexcool” with both OAT and HOAT formulas. The result of this misconception is often replacing the extended life coolant with conventional green. Industry experts say that this can be done safely if all of the green antifreeze is removed from the system. However, auto manufacturers recommend specific formulations and replacing the factory fill coolant with a different type that doesn’t meet the manufacturer’s specifications could cause liability issues down the road. A much safer solution is to replace OAT systems with HOAT coolant which meets OAT specifications.
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Old 11-08-2010, 08:55 AM   #21
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dont put that crud in your jeep. use the leaking radiator to flush out the entire system. then drain it out and swap out the radiator. Go to browns jeep on 112, and get the right antifreeze. and use distille water if you are gonna mix antifreeze. You and your dad should be able to do it. Hopefully you have a garage. good luck from another long islander.
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Old 11-09-2010, 09:00 AM   #22
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dont put that crud in your jeep. use the leaking radiator to flush out the entire system. then drain it out and swap out the radiator. Go to browns jeep on 112, and get the right antifreeze. and use distille water if you are gonna mix antifreeze. You and your dad should be able to do it. Hopefully you have a garage. good luck from another long islander.
Thank you fellow Long Islander However, given that I'm on a tight budget, and I've gotten other feedback about possible temporary and CHEAP fixes (lol), do you still advise that this is a bad idea for now? I don't want to take the cheap-skate way out and be sorry, ya know?
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Old 11-09-2010, 09:12 AM   #23
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I did mine about 2 years ago, really simple, just make sure when you get replacement upper and lower hoses, you get the right ones... it sounds wierd but I got a replacement upper that sat a little close to my ac compressor. I came out and checked a few days later and the hose was sitting on my ac compressor pully and maybe an hour of running away from cutting through and causing a big mess and a bigger problem.

The replacement hose sat a full 2 fingers above the ac compressor pully.
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Old 11-09-2010, 11:13 AM   #24
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You guys are awesome. Much thanks ....

this may be a stupid :/ question, but is repairing a minor leak with a stop-leak additive a thing of the past? Recommended, not recommended??
Go for it (per the stop leak manufacturer's instructions) and if it doesn't stop the leak, flush out the system and put a new radiator in.

You have a 5 year 100,000 mile coolant in your Jeep. Has it ever been changed?
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Old 11-10-2010, 09:08 AM   #25
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Go for it (per the stop leak manufacturer's instructions) and if it doesn't stop the leak, flush out the system and put a new radiator in.

You have a 5 year 100,000 mile coolant in your Jeep. Has it ever been changed?
An excellent question, probably not b/c it's just about 7 years old at this point, but maybe I souldn't assume I did notice that the leak has seemed to stop since my mechanic added a bit more new antifreeze to it, which leads me to believe its a small leak that is being warded off by the new batch of antifreeze. Maybe I can prolong the financial setback a bit by adding some stop-leak...hmmmm..
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Old 11-10-2010, 11:07 AM   #26
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An excellent question, probably not b/c it's just about 7 years old at this point, but maybe I souldn't assume I did notice that the leak has seemed to stop since my mechanic added a bit more new antifreeze to it, which leads me to believe its a small leak that is being warded off by the new batch of antifreeze. Maybe I can prolong the financial setback a bit by adding some stop-leak...hmmmm..
Could be the radiator cap wasn't as tight as it should be. The lugs on the cap should line up across the radiator when it is tight. I would go the stop leak route, for one time anyway, if the leak reappears.
The new antifreeze may have provided some coating, especially if it contained silicates. Did you notice if he topped up with green antifreeze (has more silicates), by any chance?
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Old 11-10-2010, 11:21 AM   #27
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Don't forget to burp the system to get all the air out. Usually just compress and release the upper hose. ALso getting new upper and lower hoses is a good idea. don't forget to get the coil spring out of the lower hose.
I got a lower "universal" hose with the spring integrated into the rubber for my DJ... royal PITA to bend it far enough to hook it up, but it's bomb-proof it was well worth the few extra bucks.
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Old 11-10-2010, 12:01 PM   #28
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Could be the radiator cap wasn't as tight as it should be. The lugs on the cap should line up across the radiator when it is tight. I would go the stop leak route, for one time anyway, if the leak reappears.
The new antifreeze may have provided some coating, especially if it contained silicates. Did you notice if he topped up with green antifreeze (has more silicates), by any chance?
Nope, it's more of a brown/amber. As for the loose cap, he let me go under the truck when it was on the lift, and showed me how when he pulled the rubber away from the radiator, it showed the leaking area. I'm sorry I can't be more technical in telling you exactly what I was looking at..haha!
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Old 11-10-2010, 01:07 PM   #29
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Nope, it's more of a brown/amber. As for the loose cap, he let me go under the truck when it was on the lift, and showed me how when he pulled the rubber away from the radiator, it showed the leaking area. I'm sorry I can't be more technical in telling you exactly what I was looking at..haha!
Thanks. Some times where a leak originates and where it shows up are two very different locations as the liquid makes its way downward.

The additives in your coolant may be depleted if it hasn't been changed since new. The antifreeze will still be good to prevent freezing but the additives to provide lubrication, coating/sealing and to prevent corrosion may be pretty well used up or actually used up.
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Old 11-10-2010, 07:10 PM   #30
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if you can see the area when it is leaking
you could try sealing it with epoxy as an inexpensive temporary fix.

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