How to Replace a Nissan Xterra Radiator

by Christian Killian
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Alex Wong/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Replacement of a damaged or plugged radiator in your Nissan Xterra will keep your cooling system functioning properly. A leaking radiator can cause the engine to overheat, possibly resulting in internal damage to the engine and cylinder head. Replacing the radiator will take some time, but the job can be done at home with basic hand tools. Resolving the cooling system problems now will save having larger, more complex repairs in the future.

Step 1

Position a clean drain pan or bucket under the radiator drain to catch the coolant. Use a clean pan or bucket so that the coolant does not get contaminated by oil or other debris.

Step 2

Drain the coolant from the radiator by opening the plug located on the bottom of the radiator. The plug is on the driver's side of the radiator and turns counterclockwise to open.

Step 3

Remove the upper and lower radiator hoses, using a pair of hose clamp pliers to remove the clamps. If the hoses have been replaced or the clamps have been changed, you may need a screwdriver to remove them.

Step 4

Remove the air duct and air cleaner from the engine. This is necessary for clearance to allow access to the radiator shroud.

Step 5

Remove the lower radiator shroud. It is attached to the main shroud using two snap-in tabs on either side of the lower shroud. Release the tab with a screwdriver or similar tool and remove the shroud from the engine compartment.

Step 6

Locate and remove the two bolts that secure the shroud to the radiator, using a wrench or socket and ratchet. Slide the radiator shroud out of the engine compartment and set it aside.

Step 7

Remove the overflow hose by pulling it loose from the nipple at the radiator fill neck. If your vehicle has an automatic transmission, you can now remove the cooler lines from the radiator using a wrench to loosen the fittings and pull them straight out of the core. Do not bend or kink the lines or they will need to be replaced.

Step 8

Remove the two radiator mounting nuts from the upper radiator support, with a wrench or socket, and lift the radiator straight up and out of the engine compartment. You need to move the mounting brackets from the top of the radiator to the new radiator before installing it. They are removed by removing the nut that holds them to the top of the radiator and then lifting them off the radiator.

Step 9

Slide the new radiator into the engine compartment and engage the pins on the bottom of it with the holes in the lower radiator support. Install the nuts on the upper radiator mounts and torque them to 40 inch-pounds with a torque wrench.

Step 10

Install the transmission cooler lines and overflow hose. Tighten the fittings on the cooling lines with a wrench. Slide the shroud into the engine compartment and align the mounting tabs on the bottom with the slots in the radiator support. Install the two upper mounting bolts and torque them to 35 inch-pounds with a torque wrench.

Step 11

Install the lower shroud. It will just snap into place on the main shroud. Install the upper and lower radiator hoses and attach the hose clamps.

Step 12

Fill the radiator with new coolant and test run the engine. You will need to keep adding coolant until all the air is out of the system and the thermostat is fully opened. When it will not accept any more coolant, install the radiator cap and verify that you don't have any leaks.

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