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How to Replace the Radiator in a Jeep Cherokee

by Eli Laurens

The Jeep Cherokee's cooling system, like most other cars and trucks, has a radiator that can fail and require replacement. The task is time consuming and messy, but straightforward; the average backyard mechanic should spend about 3 hours replacing the radiator.

Coolant being drained from radiator

Drain the coolant from the radiator. Unscrew the radiator cap, then place the drain pan underneath the front of the vehicle. One most models, a hex shaped drain plug is located on the lower driver's side section of the radiator. Some models will have a plastic plug that requires a screwdriver. Collect the coolant in the drain pan.

Electric fan for Jeep Cherokee

Remove the fan shroud, or electric fan assembly for some models. Disconnect the power wires from the fan at the adapter, then loosen the two screws at the top of the housing and the entire unit will slide up.

Disconnect the upper and lower rubber hoses from the radiator. This may require a flat-head screwdriver for hose clamps, or a pair of channel-lock pliers for pinch style clamps. More coolant will likely come out of these hoses, so have a drain pan handy.

Remove the transmission lines connected to the radiator, if so equipped. Some models will use the cooling system to lower the temperature of the transmission oil. They connect to the radiator with a hex shaped line bolt on the upper line, and a quick clamp on the lower line. Some fluid may leak out.

Remove the condenser bracket bolts, on the top of the radiator.

Pull the radiator out of position, and slide it straight up to remove it. The condenser should stay in place.

Install the new radiator. Slide it back into the frame catches at the bottom of radiator channel, located in the back of the condenser.

Replace the top condenser bracket bolts.

Reconnect the rubber hoses, or replace them.

Replace the fan shroud or electric fan assembly. It slides down into the channel at the bottom. Fasten the two screws that hold it into place, and plug the fan into the adapter.

Reconnect the transmission lines, if so equipped.

Tighten the drain plug.

Fill the radiator with coolant. Crank the Jeep, and continue to pour coolant until the radiator will not take in anymore. Replace the cap with the engine running, and then fill the reservoir to the proper fill level. The channels of the cooling system may take additional fluid over the next few hours of drive time, so check the reservoir often.

Check and replace the lost transmission fluid at the dipstick, if so equipped.

Tip

  • Use a mixture of 50 percent coolant to 50 percent water, if not pre-mixed Do not overfill the transmission

Warning

  • Disconnect the battery before removing the radiator Use proper safety equipment

Items you will need

About the Author

Eli Laurens is a ninth-grade physics teacher as well as a computer programmer and writer. He studied electrical engineering and architecture at Southern Polytechnic University in Marietta, Ga., and now lives in Colorado.

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Photo Credits

  • rondavisradiators.com, media.photobucket.com, images.1aauto.com