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5.0 Ford Explorer Radiator ReplacementFirst let me say that if you are a novice, do not attempt this job. Its like a rubix cube and a Chinese finger puzzle all rolled into one. Take it to a reputable service tech and let him cuss over it. Better him than you right. This job is not for the faint of heart.

But, If you are like me and checking for help when your halfway through the job, Here goes.

Before I go any further you must have at least twopeople or three at some points of this job. One person cannot do this or if he can I would like to meet this guy and shake his hand. Also the helper cannot be a novice as the job requires alot of on the go thinking.

Another thing to remember is to throughly inspect the new radiator for cracks. I didn't and I had to do this whole job twice. Nightmare.

Okay, Here we Go. Are you Sure you want to do this.


1. Remove the black plastic housing that is directly under the radiator. 4 3/8 bolts hold it up and put to the side. save the screws in a safe place. Not under the vehicle like I always do.

2. Remove the oil cooler lines from the clip under the passenger side of the radiator and then remove the Clip itself from the radiator and put it on the new radiator at your convenience.

3. Drain the radiator. Remember to drain with the cap off.

4. Remove the mass air flow sensor assembly. Do this during the drain to save time.

5. Remove the two shroud bolts and gently pull up on the shroud about 2 inches and move the shroud over the fan and out of the way.

6. Remove the bolt that connects the A/C condenser. This bolt is on the passenger side top under the shroud bolt.

7. Remove the top Transmission line first with a regular wrench and then move that line out of your way so you can get to the lower one. Remove lower Transmission line. Sorry that second one is a long job. No room. Be sure that you are removing only the outer nut on the line not the larger one connected to the radiator.

8. Remove the two bolts that secure the top of the radiator.

9. Call your friends now offer them anything they want if they will give you an hour of their time.

10. Remove the overflow line that travels over the top of the radiator to the neck of the radiator and take off the 2 plastic holders and put them in your pocket. That way when your finished later that night you will remember that you forgot to put them on the new radiator. OR Remember to put them on the new radiator.

11. Disconnect the knife blade connector at the bottom passenger side of the radiator and pull it apart. The ends of this connector can be squeezed together with your fingers and separate. Be careful. Remember you are messing with the A/C. But you can and must man handle this alittle but don't go caveman on it. Be sure to let the knife blade connector rest towards the middle of the radiator and not towards the passenger side where its gonna want to naturally go. This is very important.

At this point take a break, Pray, and offer your friends a drink. Only one, you are going to need your head to be working well for the next part.

12. Okay. The trick is to move the radiator as far as it will go to the drivers side of the vehicle. Now the other person gently, but forcefully moves the A/C condenser towards the passenger side of the vehicle. Opposing force. It sounds simple so far, right. NOT. There is a clip on the bottom driver side of the radiator. At a few points during this procedure the person on the drivers side will have to check under the vehicle to make sure that this clip has not reinserted itself back into its place. Ford designed this clip for anti-vibration but I secretly think that this part was designed to piss you off and make you cuss. Now as you are pulling in opposite directions, check your status by looking on the driver side top of the radiator between the two pieces you will notice that there are two knife blade plastic pieces that have to be separated before you can raise the radiator out. It took two guys 20 mins. both times to do this step. It is HELL. Look for hang ups as you are separating the two parts. The hang ups will usually involve the two clips at the bottom of the radiator. Check them regularly. They like to reinsert themselves back while you are not looking.

13. When and if you finish step twelve, Praise God, thank your friends for their help and pull the radiator straight up. You will get some hang ups with the transmission lines but its easy if you get one person on the passenger side and one on the driver side gently lift the radiator out of the engine bay.

13. Take a few minutes of rest and put all the fittings and gizmos on your new radiator. Use new parts when you can but remember to put the overflow line clips in and also install the oil cooler line holder in the same place that it was on the old radiator.

14. Gently lower the new radiator into place remembering that two people will have to reinstall those two knife blades on the drivers side middle and top of the radiator before you place the radiator on the resting supports.

15. When you finish step 14, Thank God again, and thank your friend again at this point. Example "Thanks __________ I couldn't have done this without you." They can go home at this point because the rest of the job is easy.

16. Replace and install everything you took off or disconnected and check it twice. Collect your tools and lay them to the side and replace 50/50 coolant into the system and check for leaks. I hope you inspected your new radiator for cracks. I didnt. and had to get a new one and do the job twice.

17. When reinstalling the transmission cooling lines do the bottom one first and then the top. Again Very Important.

I wish you good fortune and may God be with all who use these instructions. You will need all the help you can get.



First of all, I'd like to thank the original poster for taking the time to provide such a detailed description. You made my job a lot easier. Of course, I didn't read your instructions until I was half-way into the job.

I ended up modifying the procedure which resulted in a much easier removal and installation. This only applies if you are replacing the radiator.

My Explorer is a 2000 5.0, which has the same set-up as the '98. Follow the instructions above through step 11, except your friends won't be necessary to help with this project. Next:

A) Take Haynes Repair Manual, throw away.

B) Remove the battery and battery box. There are three bolts that hold the box in place, very easy, 3 minutes to remove.

C) Take a large flat blade screw driver insert it into the top portion of the plastic clips on the driver's side of the radiator that the condenser's plastic tabs slide into. Twist and pry with the screw driver to break off the top portion of these two clips (remember, you are throwing this radiator away). 1 minute.

D) Pull out the radiator. Easy!

E) Before you install the new radiator, cut off about 1" from the tabs on the condenser. Not too much, you still want to use these tabs, but they don't need to be 2.5" long. I used a deremel with a cutting blade, which made it very easy to cut these plastic tabs. Less than 5 minutes.

F) Install the new radiator as described above, but it is now a pretty simple task with the shorter tabs.

------------------------update on the two posts above

Since I had done this before (years ago), I knew doing this again was going to be a pain. I much appreciate the above two posts. However, even after doing Step E above, I still found it very difficult even with two people to get the radiator back in and aligned properly with the condenser. My recommendation is to get a friend to help. Now the bad news...the new radiator also leaked, so I will be doing this again for the 3rd time. BUMMER!!!!


More notes to add post-mortem from completing this job DIY style (4/2012):

This was my first radiator replacement attempt and I was able to get the old one unbolted and out in 30 minutes by myself. The instructions above helped a TON.

* I HIGHLY recommend replacing your serpentine belt while you have the radiator out...assuming you're due for a new one. There's SO much more room to work around in and it took my like 90 seconds to swap it out.

* I did NOT have to remove the air box OR the battery. Just unclipped the air hose and sensor and moved out of the way. Removing the battery may have made more room to get to the lower tranny line, but I managed just fine.

* It was definitely challenging to get the two condenser tabs out of the slots on the old radiator. Agree it would have been much easier to just break them but I didn't see that advice until after the fact. Regardless though with some wiggling I was able to get them loose. I stood in front of the car and put my left hand on the tubes connected to the condenser and my right hand ont he radiator and just wiggled. I got the top tab loose, then ended up using a long rod to sort of pry the lower tab out of the slot.

* sliding the new one back onto the condenser was even more challenging. If I had a tool that could cut the tabs shorter, I would have. but instead I just fiddled until I got it. I discovered that the plastic piece with the tabs is flexible since it's not permanently attached to the condenser, so you can point the tabs toward the rear of the vehicle at an angle. I stood in front of the vehicle like i did when i separated them, only did it in reverse. After 10-15 minutes they locked together

* The aftermarket radiator I got from advanced auto parts did not have a good place to remount the lower oil cooler line bracket. I just did the best I could to keep it from moving around too much. A zip tie was involved.

* I used Teflon tape on all the tranny cooler line threads to prevent leaks.

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โˆ™ 2012-04-30 19:31:08
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