How to Replace a Radiator in a VW Passat

by Editorial TeamUpdated November 07, 2017

Items you will need

  • Resealable container

  • Replacement radiator

  • Distilled water

  • Antifreeze

How to Replace a Radiator in a VW Passat. It's essential to keep the radiator on your VW Passat in good condition, as a leaky radiator can cause overheating and engine damage. If you're mechanically inclined, you can save money by replacing the radiator yourself. Here's how to replace the radiator in a 1996 to 2005 Passat with a 2.8-L or 4.0-L engine.

Remove the sound insulator and disconnect the negative battery cable. In order to replace the radiator it's necessary to remove the front bumper cover. In preparation to remove the cover, remove the turn signal and the hood latch release lever.

Ask somebody to help you remove the bumper cover. First, remove the radiator grille bolts and the screws holding the bumper. Ask your helper to assist you in pulling the bumper cover from the guides. Detach the harness connectors for any electrical components.

Unscrew the drain on the bottom of the radiator and drain the coolant into a resealable container. Release the couplings on the coolant hoses and disconnect the thermal switch from the harness connector. If your Passat has an automatic transmission, disconnect the ATF lines.

Remove the power steering and let it hang loose. Don't disconnect the fluid lines. If your Passat doesn't have an air conditioning unit, detach the clips and remove the radiator, pulling it towards the front of the vehicle.

Remove the refrigerant line clips if your Passat has air conditioning unit, and pull the condenser from the radiator, pulling it forward and maneuvering it between the lock carrier and the condenser.

Replace the radiator, and reconnect and reinstall all engine components and bumper elements in the order in which they were removed. Tighten all clips, bolts and screws securely.

Fill the radiator with a mixture of half distilled water and half antifreeze. Leave the radiator cap off, start the engine and let it run long enough to warm up, which will help to remove air from the system. Top off the coolant mixture, if necessary. Replace the cap securely.


Remember that cats and dogs are attracted to antifreeze, which can be fatal if ingested. Clean up any spills as soon as they happen.

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