How to Replace a Car's Radiator Tank

  • 2-4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 150-300
What You'll Need
10 or 13 millimeter spanner
Various size socket set
Draining tray
Rubber gloves or latex gloves
Open race wrench
Distilled water
New antifreeze

Replacing the radiator tank on your car is an easily achievable task, but safety is of prime importance. Ensure that the vehicle has been parked long enough for the engine to feel cool to the touch (1 to 2 hours). The pressure inside a radiator tank which is hot will force fluid upwards if the cap is released. For easy access to your radiator, the vehicle can be raised by using ramps. However, the car must remain level for the duration of the tank replacement.

Step 1 - Disconnect the Battery

Wearing rubber gloves for safety purposes at this stage is recommended. Remove the terminal on the negative side of the battery first. Carefully loosen the battery bolt and lift the battery up to release on this side. Remove the terminal on the positive side of the battery and repeat as per the negative terminal. Ensure that the ignition is off before continuing.

Step 2 - Draining the Tank

Locate the radiator tank and by feeling the underneath of it you will find the draining plug. Position the tray underneath the area and slowly unscrew the plug to release the contents of the tank. Dispose of the old antifreeze sensibly to avoid accidental consumption.

Step 3 - Disconnect Hoses and Cooling Fan

Remove all the radiator hose connections on the top and bottom of the tank by using a screwdriver. Remove the electrical wires to the cooling fan and remove the fan.

Step 4 - Check The Hoses

Look at the hoses as you remove them. If they exhibit tears or bulging then it is appropriate to replace the hoses along with the radiator tank.

Step 5 - Disconnect Transmission Cooling Lines

Disconnect the transmission cooling lines, ensuring care is applied so as not to damage or bend them. The transmission cooling lines which are located at the bottom of the tank.

Step 6 - Removing the Radiator

Loosen any other screws or clamps to the radiator before lifting the tank up and out of the car. Be careful not to drop any fixtures and lose them.

Step 7 - Installing New Radiator Tank

Put the new radiator into position and reattach all screws and clamps to secure the unit. Reconnect the transmission cooling lines remembering they are fragile. Reconnect all hoses back to the radiator and tighten clamp fittings and finally, reconnect the fan and its electrical connection.

Step 8 - Adding the Radiator Coolant

Mix your radiator coolant together with distilled water, following the guideline of 50% antifreeze and 50% water. Distilled water is more suitable for this purpose as it has no minerals which will cause deposits. Regular tap water can be used in an emergency, but is not recommended if you have a choice. Add this mixture to your new tank and replace the cap.

Step 9 - Monitor Performance

After installation of the new radiator tank, monitor the levels of fluid, water temperature and the tank itself. Any leaks will become apparent.