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How much does it cost to replace a radiator on average? Here, we’ll cover how much you should pay for a new one.
Besides that, we’ll cover all the steps required to install a new one. Heat exchangers are not exactly known for being durable.
When they break down, you must replace them as there’s not much you can do to bring them back to life.
Luckily, there are relatively easy to replace, even if you have no prior experience doing so.
And with our help, it gets even easier. With that being said, let’s jump right into it.
6 Signs You Need To Replace Your Radiator
Are you about to spend the next 5 hours going on a trip but don’t want to risk getting stranded in the desert until somebody finds you?
Don’t worry, though. We have you covered.
Here, we’ll discuss the most common symptoms that suggest you should replace the radiator as soon as possible.
01. Leak Problem
Were you going by your day when you suddenly decided to pop the hood of your vehicle only to find out liquid all over your radiator? If so, your radiator probably broke.
To determine whether the radiator is in great shape or not, clean it off and then spray it with soapy water.
If the radiator looks worn-out, you must replace it. There is no temporary solution to this problem.
By no means should you drive under such circumstances, as you might overheat the engine?
If you’ve recently noticed that your vehicle started to overheat, you should check up on the radiator to ensure everything is working fine.
If the radiator looks damaged, you should replace it immediately before it causes further damage.
Sometimes, however, the radiator might not be the culprit, and it could just be the radiator hose, which is relatively easy to replace.
But if both the radiator hose and the radiator seem to be in great shape, perhaps the coolant has not been running into the engine.
This will drop the temperature by a lot if you haven’t used the heater.
To fix this, you must turn the heater on full blast. Additionally, you could roll your windows down when driving.
Also, do not drive any further unless necessary.
03. Low Coolant
This one goes in hand with the first problem we covered.
If you’ve noticed that you continuously get the “low coolant” light on the dashboard, you should look into the radiator as it might not be working anymore.
When this happens, there might be a hole in the radiator, which causes the liquid to come out.
As more coolant comes out, you will frequently get the low coolant light.
To fix this issue, you need to get a new radiator. Some folks might suggest getting a radiator stop leak.
While it does stop the leak, most of the time, it won’t do any good for your vehicle.
It’ll clog the passageways in the radiator, and in the worst-case scenario, it might even clog the heater core.
04. Damaged Fins
Radiators tend to get banged up over time. It happens quite often, so no, there is no need to worry about it.
You might have also noticed how the fins are slowly getting damaged, which should not trigger any red flags just yet.
As long as the water channels are still working, a couple of curved fins should not cause any damage to the engine.
But if it’s continually leaking, you should look into replacing it before things get pretty messy.
If you noticed gunk inside the radiator and that the coolant has a nasty look, you must get a new radiator.
When your radiator goes bad, sludge and gunk infect the coolant inside the radiator; what originally had a yellowish appearance can now have a rusty color.
Sometimes, you might be able to get rid of the gunk by performing a simple flush.
However, if you keep finding gunk after every flush, you might want to replace the radiator to call it a day.
One of the leading causes as to why your radiator is not working anymore is corrosion.
The parts of your vehicle tend to get corroded over time, whether it be the radiator hoses, the radiator itself, or any other part.
When corrosion occurs, those parts affected by it tend to get weaker, creating holes in the units.
If you’ve caught sight of the constant liquid underneath your vehicle, there is a high chance that the radiator got corroded.
But before you replace the radiator, we suggest cleaning it up to find out whether there is a hole in the unit or not.
New Radiator Replacement Cost
With the internet becoming more accessible worldwide, it’s now easier to determine the average cost for a particular product without paying above retail price.
Here, we’ll discuss how much to replace the radiator in most places.
The average replacement cost for a radiator is about $600. Of course, that is taking into account both the labor and the unit itself.
On the other hand, if you want to take on this project, you can buy a new radiator for about $80.
You’re going to need 50/50 antifreeze as you need to add coolant once you’ve installed the new radiator, which you can find for roughly $25.
You will end up with a whopping $105 bill, which is a lot cheaper than having somebody else replace the old one.
As a side note, you might also have to get new radiator hoses as they tend to get damaged along with the radiator.
So, it wouldn’t hurt to look into getting new ones.
DIY Guide: How To Replace a Radiator
Here, we’ll walk you through all the steps to install a new radiator on your own.
It does take some time, as you need to complete a couple of tasks. But overall, this process is pretty simple.
What You’ll Need
We’re going to keep it as simple as possible by using a couple of tools you probably have at home.
- A flare nut wrench—the transmission cooler lines can be hard to remove. With a flat nut wrench, this process is a lot easier.
- Pliers—when removing the radiator hoses, you need to remove the clamps, which is why you need pliers.
- Ratchets, sockets, and an extension—you need them to remove a couple of bolts holding the radiator.
- Spill-proof funnel—filling up the radiator without a funnel is too hard. Get one to make this job more manageable.
- 50/50 Antifreeze/coolant—when performing a flush, you’re going to need the coolant.
01. Flush The Radiator
The first step to do before learning how to replace your radiator is to perform a simple flush.
- The engine must be cold before flushing. Crawl under the vehicle and place a container underneath the radiator petcock. Now, take it off.
- Put the drain plug back and then fill up the reservoir with water. After you’ve filled it up, you want to start the engine. As the engine is running, add the rest of the water. By doing this, you’ll get rid of the air in the system.
- Now add chemical flush. Next, turn the heater on full blast and pay attention to the temperature as you drive for the next 10 minutes.
- After that, you want to flush out the water. As the water is coming out, take off the radiator cap. Now start up the engine to force out the remaining water. And now install the drain plug.
- From there, add 50/50 antifreeze using the funnel. If you can’t add more, start up the engine. And finally, add both anti-rust and a sealer additive.
- Put the cap back on, and go for a ride. As you drive, the engine should not overheat.
02. Take Off The Old Radiator
- Open up the radiator cap and then place a bucket underneath. There you want to take off the drain plug.
- As the liquid is coming out, you want to remove the negative cable on the battery. After that, remove the air intake. To do this, you need to release the hose clamps.
- Next, remove the airflow sensor wiring. After that, remove the intake hose.
- And now, grab your pliers and get the clamps out of your way on both the upper and lower hose. Now, twist the hose until you can take it off.
03. Disconnect The Transmission Cooler Lines
Now, you want to remove the lines before you can take out the old radiator.
- Grab your flare-nut wrench and loosen up the flare-nut. When loosening it, the lines should not move. After that, remove the lower cooler line.
04. Remove the Fan Shroud And Radiator
- Use your ratchet to remove all the bolts holding the fan shroud together. Next, disconnect the line on top of the radiator.
- Twist it around, and then proceed to remove the radiator and the fan shroud.
05. Install The New Radiator
Before installing the new radiator, transplant everything from the old one onto the new radiator.
- Now take your fan shroud and put it back on. From there, install the new radiator. Be careful when doing so. Next, install the line you took off from the top of the radiator.
- Put the fan shroud against the radiator, and then proceed to screw all the bolts that secure the radiator. With that out of the way, install the transmission cooler lines. Now tighten both the lower and upper hose.
- Install the intake tubing you took off. And finally, reconnect the negative cable.
06. Add The Coolant
- Fill the radiator using the premixed coolant and then start up the engine. Here you want to turn on the heat. By turning the heat on, the coolant will circulate through the heater core.
- Keep an eye on the dashboard. The temperature gauge should not reach a hot temperature. Instead, it should remain cold.
- If it reaches a hot temperature, it means you don’t have enough coolant or air inside the system.
- Also, as the engine is running, you want to make sure there is no leak when running the system. By now, the coolant might not be going down, which means you’ve successfully filled the radiator. Remove the funnel, and then install the radiator cap.
- And finally, add coolant to the reservoir until you reach the sign that says “full.”
For more information on this topic, we suggest watching this video:
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Down below, you’ll find a few questions regarding the radiator on your vehicle.
Is it hard to replace a radiator?
No, replacing a radiator is not hard. It takes more time than replacing the radiator hoses, but the process is still relatively simple.
How much does it cost to fix a leaking radiator?
This is how much to replace the radiator: you should expect to pay $400 up to $800.
You could fix the radiator by using one of those radiator sealers. However, they’ll do more harm than good.
How long does it take to replace a radiator?
The average time for replacing a radiator is about 20-40 minutes.
How much does it cost to replace a radiator? On average, you might spend $600.
The average radiator tends to go for about $80-$100. Getting the unit on your own and replacing it in your free time is way cheaper than going to any dealer.
There is nothing extraordinary about replacing one by yourself. Perhaps, it is one of the easiest parts you can install on your own.
As long as you put your mind to it, and with the help of our how-to guide, you should be just fine throughout the process.