How to Replace a Radiator in a VW Jetta

by Editorial TeamUpdated November 07, 2017

Items you will need

  • Resealable container

  • Replacement radiator

  • Distilled water

  • Engine coolant

How to Replace a Radiator in a VW Jetta. Over time, your vehicle's radiator can corrode and wear out, causing leaks and overheating. If you have a VW Jetta, replacing the radiator is a fairly difficult project because you have to remove so many engine parts and components. However, if you have mechanical know how, you may want to tackle the job. Here's how to replace the radiator in the 1998 and later model VW Jetta.

Unfasten the drain plug on the bottom of the radiator, and let the engine coolant drain into a resealable container. Unhook the electrical connectors from the coolant fan and thermal switch.

Detach the release lever holding the front bumper, and take off the radiator grille. Remove all bolts holding the front bumper and take off the bumper. Disconnect the temperature sensor connector and if necessary remove the spoiler.

Unhook the quick release couplings holding the coolant hoses to the radiator. Removing the screws securing the headlights and disconnect the headlights. If your Jetta is equipped with A/C, unfasten the A/C mounting bolts and the condenser bracket bolt on the left of the radiator.

Remove the radiator mounting bolts and slide the radiator and fan by sliding them downward. Don't disconnect any refrigerant lines, if your Jetta has an air conditioning unit.

Take the retaining clamps off the refrigerant lines and remove the bolts securing the refrigerant line from the side of the radiator. Be very careful that no hoses or lines are stretched or bent. Swing the radiator down and remove it from the vehicle.

Replace the radiator and replace and reconnect all engine and electrical components and the fender and bumper in the reverse order.

Fill the radiator with a mixture of half distilled water and half engine coolant. Start the vehicle and let it run for several minutes with the radiator cap off, in order to bleed air from the lines. Check the fluid level and top it off if necessary, then put on the radiator cap.


You can reuse engine coolant if it isn't old or contaminated. However, if you choose not to reuse it, take it to a garage or a hazardous waste facility for proper disposal.


Be sure to keep engine coolant in a sealed container out of the reach of children and pets, and if any is spilled, clean it up immediately. Remember that antifreeze tastes sweet, and can be fatal if ingested. Always be sure the engine is cool before replacing the radiator in your VW Jetta. The steam and hot liquid can cause serious burns.

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