Dropping By Degrees
A simple step to better cooling
Larry Jewett - July 12, 2012 10:00 AM
The first step was disconnecting the hoses and removing the bolts to pull off the coolant tank. We’re going to clean it up and re-use it.
The bulging hose is about to be pulled off. Lonnie has a pair of clamp pliers on this one, but the tool works best on the clamps you can barely see.
The plastic cover has been removed. We started draining the coolant while still working up on top. It was just a case of placing a pan under the lower hose and disconnecting it.
Some of the lower lines required a pry bar after the fittings had been loosened. There are certain areas where care is important. Don’t get in a hurry; this job doesn’t take long.
There’s evidence of a leak. It was time to replace this radiator. It was the factory original and the car has 160,000 miles on it.
Using a pair of wrenches, the lines are being disconnected. Here’s where a line wrench comes in handy. I was supposed to bring the ones I got from Proform, but forgot them, leaving the guys no choice but to do it the hard way.
The radiator stays at the top corners of the radiator will come out next. We have already disconnected the three bolts that mounted the fan to the radiator and have the fan aside. It will be re-used, but is high on the replacement list.
With nothing standing in the way, it’s a simple case of just lifting the radiator straight out. If there is a transmission cooler that runs through in front of the radiator, make sure it is disconnected and not hanging up the removal.
The old radiator has come out and it’s not very impressive. It served its time, but there will be more peace of mind with the Mustangs Unlimited radiator.
The fitting on the old radiator compared to the new unit. The connection will be much better with the new radiator.
It is a case of modern technology being more thorough than what the factory had to work with more than 15 years ago.
We slid the new radiator into place after noticing that the old radiator support beneath the car had been bent somehow. Slow down for speed bumps, as this may have been a cause, but the car was purchased used, so the truth may never be known. The new radiator sits a bit lower, which isn’t a bad thing.
It’s now a case of reversing the process. All the connections are made, then tightened. We have installed a new top hose after inspecting the lower hose and finding it in very good shape. If you are going to replace a bottom hose, it can add a bit of time to your work, since it is in a confined place.
After double checking the connections, the plastic cover and the coolant tank were reattached, using the same hardware. The new top hose looks much better. We also replaced the cap on the coolant tank, just to be safe. The next step is putting the water (and antifreeze if you prefer) into the coolant tank and starting it up. There were no leaks and we were on the way to lunch a little early.
Heat can be a killer. We already know it robs us of horsepower and performance.
It takes its toll on exposed wiring and any number of other issues. Heat, while a necessary evil, isn’t always our friend.
Our ’97 Mustang GT was having some issues that could be easily addressed with a simple change of the radiator. There were leaks that, while slight, were still not part of the plan. There’s no reason to jeopardize future issues when things don’t have to be in harm’s way. After all, a radiator swap is usually a job that can be done with a minimum of hassle and time.
While the car is not performance-oriented, we still wanted quality and economy. We went to Mustangs Unlimited, where their selection of replacement parts is among the best. The radiator we needed was in stock and affordable. It also arrived in short order, just in time for the weekend project.
While we were doing the underhood inspection, the question was asked: “Is that hose supposed to be bulging like that?” The answer, of course, is “no.” It was a simple trip to the auto parts store to secure the top hose that we would need, and we replaced it when the new radiator went in.
The job took an hour,thanks to Lonnie and Mike at H & H Automotive in Plant City, Florida. Lonnie put his talents and tools to work on the car while we stood by with the camera, trying to stay out of the way. The end result is better cooling and we’re casting an eye on that stock fan. A call to SPAL may be coming soon.