How to Replace a Radiator in a Ford Explorer

by ContributorUpdated November 07, 2017

Items you will need

  • New radiator

  • Container for old coolant

  • Set of socket wrenches

  • Ford disconnect tools or crescent wrenches

  • Flush treatment

  • Coolant

How to Replace a Radiator in a Ford Explorer. The Ford Explorer is easily one of the most popular SUVs of the 1990s. Built on the same frame as Ford's popular Ranger trucks, the Explorer line is a dependable and sturdy vehicle. If you discover a cracked radiator in your Explorer, you can replace it yourself and prolong the life of your car.

Disconnect the negative battery terminal to prevent damage to any electrical parts. Open the drain cock on the lower rear of the radiator, remove the radiator cap and drain the coolant into an empty container. Remove the overflow tube from the radiator and the coolant recovery bottle.

Unbolt the shroud with a 10 mm socket wrench and position it over the fan, out of the way. For a 5.0 liter engine on a 1991 through 2001 Explorer, also disconnect the electric fan wires and remove the radiator shroud. For a 4.6 liter SOHC engine, remove the A/C tubing from the retainer clips on top of the radiator.

Use a Ford model specific disconnect tool to remove the transmission coolant lines on an automatic transmission. You can use two crescent wrenches as a substitute for the disconnect tool, just be careful not to twist the lines.

Remove the four bolts holding the radiator in place with a 10 mm socket wrench. Place a piece of cardboard on the side of the radiator facing the engine as you remove it, to prevent damage to any engine components.

Crawl under your Explorer and take the cooling fan out for 2002 and newer models. Again, you need some Ford specific disconnect tools to do this. Remove the fan bolts as well as the shroud, followed by the 4 radiator push pins. Also remove the A/C condenser brackets near the rear of the radiator, and wire the A/C condenser in place to keep it from getting damaged.

Remove the radiator from the engine compartment. Models made between 1991 and 2001 will let you lift the radiator out by itself. For a 2002 or newer model, pull the radiator up, rest it on the wall of the engine compartment, and separate the A/C condenser from the radiator.

Install the new radiator in the engine compartment. Once you have it resting in place, reattach all components in reverse order. Use a flush treatment, then replace the coolant. Turn the car on and let the car idle, with the heater on and the radiator cap removed, until it reaches normal operating temperature. Top off your coolant as needed.

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