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TJ Radiator Replacement

With the radiator drained of coolant and the 6 mounting bolts removed, Scott lifts the old radiator out of the vehicle.  You will need to wiggle the fan shroud a bit while you slide the radiator out.  Although not a requirement, having a friend around when doing this part of the project sure does come in handy.

Since the cost is minimal, I picked up a new thermostat and a housing gasket.  I had been carrying a new serpentine belt in my parts box for the last year.  There were a few cracks in the original belt and I decided to swap the new belt in while I was doing this job.  I'll keep the old belt in the parts box as a trail spare.  I should comment that according to the factory service manual, small cracks running across the belt are not the "BAD" cracks you need to worry about.  The cracks that run parallel to the grooves in the belt are NOT good cracks and you should replace your belt immediately;.

NOTE:  If you are not replacing the thermostat or the serpentine belt, skip the following steps that detail the removal of both of these items.

With the old radiator out of the way, I grabbed the air ratchet and started to remove the thermostat housing bolts.  With one bolt removed, I decided it would be easier to remove the second one after removing the serpentine belt.  Don't forget to unplug the electrical connector that is attached to the temperature sensor.

To remove the serpentine belt, you need to loosen the bolt in the middle of the idler pulley.  Mine was on pretty tight and I ended up standing on the bumper to get some adequate leverage with the ratchet handle.  Once this bolt is loosened, you can loosen the idler adjustment bolt and put some slack in the belt.  Be sure to note the routing of the belt around the pulleys.  It can get a bit confusing when you put it all back together.  If you don't have a diagram handy, be sure to draw one (just in case).

With the belt removed, I took the second bolt out of the thermostat housing and carefully removed the housing.  The gasket will most likely peal apart and leave some of itself on the housing and some on the engine block.  Pull the heater hose off of the housing too.  You can flush the heater core by removing the other heater hose where it attaches to the engine block and running a garden hose into the end of the hose you removed from the housing.

Note the orientation of the thermostat so that you install the new one correctly. Remove the thermostat (it just sits in a recessed area on the block) and thoroughly clean the area of the old gasket material.  Once the thermostat is removed, you can flush the block with a garden hose.  Put the catch bucket under the lower radiator hose to catch the coolant coming from the block.

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