1988 Jeep Change a Radiator to a Newer Model

It might be difficult to find a radiator for a 1988 Jeep because most auto parts stores stop carrying parts once a vehicle reaches 10 years of age. The parts usually have to be special-ordered from the dealership --- which can be quite expensive. There is a way around that --- using a radiator from a newer model or even a different model Jeep or other vehicle.

Tools Used: Tools, Drain pan, Screwdriver, Set of sockets, Torque wrench (inch-pounds)

Change a Radiator to a Newer Model

Measure the radiator's core --- the center, metal part of the radiator --- horizontally and vertically. Measure the inlet header, outlet header and the upper and lower radiator hose connections. Write all measurements down. Notice whether you have a transmission cooler and engine oil cooler. Take note as to where the lines go --- to a separate cooler or to a cooler contained within the radiator.

Contact a radiator shop or an auto parts store with the measurements. Tell them what vehicle the radiator is for then have them locate a radiator with the specific measurements and oil cooler specifications.

Remove the grille reinforcement panel/crossmember, if necessary to access the radiator on your particular Jeep. Slide the drain pan under the radiator petcock. Loosen the petcock and allow the coolant to drain. Loosen the hose clamps on the upper and lower hoses at the radiator, using the screwdriver or appropriate socket, depending on the type of clamps that your radiator uses. Pull the hoses off the radiator.

Slide a clean drain pan under the cooler lines. Remove the transmission cooler lines from the radiator, if the cooler is integrated with the radiator, using the appropriate line wrench. Unplug any electrical connectors on the radiator or fans, if your vehicle has electric fans.

Unbolt and remove the electric fans from the front of the vehicle, if your particular Jeep uses an electrical fan. Remove the fan shroud mounting bolts on Jeeps that have a mechanical fan, using the appropriate socket. Push the fan shroud toward the engine and away from the radiator.

Remove the alignment dowel E-clips from the lower radiator mounting bracket, if your particular Jeep has them. Disconnect the overflow tube from the radiator. Unbolt the radiator from the frame with a socket. Remove the condenser-to-radiator mounting bolts and pull the condenser away from the radiator. Do not remove the lines on the condenser, else all of the Freon will leak out of the vehicle. Remove the radiator from the vehicle.

Slide the new radiator into position. Align the dowel pins with the bottom mounting bracket, if your application is so-equipped. Install the E-clips, if equipped. Move the condenser into place and tighten the condenser retaining bolts to 55 inch-pounds of torque. Move external oil coolers into place and tighten the bolts firmly.

Reinstall the electric fans. Plug in the wiring connectors. Install the radiator bolts and tighten them firmly. Reinstall the grille and crossmember, if it had to be removed. Move the fan shroud forward and bolt it up, if you had to move the fan shroud.

Reattach the radiator hoses and tighten the clamps. Close the radiator petcock. Fill the radiator with coolant.

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