The process of removing and replacing a radiator in a 1989 Dodge Dakota truck is not as difficult a task as it sounds. Even a woman can do this job. It is a major repair that could cost you hundreds of dollars but knowing is half the battle. This is a step by step account of the removal and replacement of that radiator.
You will need the following tools:
- 3/8 "dual drive ratchet
- 3/8 to 1/4 "adapter
- flathead screwdriver
- 7/16 "x 1/4" socket
- 1/2 "x 1/4" socket
- 6 "x 1/4" extension
Raise the hood of the truck and place the prop in the slot on the hood to secure it in place. If the radiator has water or coolant in it, you will have to drain it. Do this by placing the drain pan under the left side of the radiator and locating the drain plug on the bottom of the radiator. It does not come out, simply loosens to allow the water to drain. After the water and coolant has drained, locate the hose that runs from the top of the radiator to the reservoir. Pull the hose from the radiator but leave it connected to the reservoir.
Locate the 2 clamps that attach the radiator to the body. These will be located on the top of the radiator where the radiator touches the body. Remove these 2 clips with the flathead screwdriver and lay them to the side or on top of the air breath so they do not get lost.
Locate the 2 bolts that connect the shroud to the radiator. You will find these a little more than half way down the back on each side of the radiator. The bolt on the right, below the fill spout, is easiest to get to and can be removed from the top. The other side will require you to lay on your back on the ground and use the ratchet with at least a 6 "long extension. Place your 3/8" to 1/4 "adapter on the ratchet. 1/4 "socket on the adapter and remove the bolt on the right, then remove the socket and place the extension on the adapter and place the socket on the extension.
Lay down on the ground on your back and locate the 2 transmission cooler lines on the bottom of the radiator. You will find one on each side of the radiator on the bottom. Place the drain pan below the radiator. With the flathead screwdriver loosen the screw on the clamp that holds the rubber line onto the fitting. Take the pliers and squeeze the rubber hose and move it around the fitting and pull back on it at the same time. These are not easy to remove but you do not want to cut the hose unless it is split. Keep trying because it will take a couple of minutes of maneuvering to get these off.
While still lying on the ground, locate the bottom radiator hose. Again, take the screwdriver and loosen the screw that holds the clamp in place. Using both hands, turn and pull up and down on the hose until it is free. Water will run out of this hose because it goes to the motor. Allow it to drain into the drain pan.
On the top of the radiator, locate the 2 bolts that attach the radiator to the body. Use the 1/2 "x 1/4" socket on the ratchet and remove them. Place these in the same location you place all the other bolts and clips. Grasp the radiator by each side and raise it out of the cavity.
Remove the 2 rubber bumpers the top bolts were through on the old radiator. Remove the same 2 bumpers on the new radiator and place the old ones in their place. If you noticed, the new ones were wider than the old ones and would not allow the bolt to reach the body of the truck. Grasp the new radiator the exact same way you did the old one to remove it. Now place the new one in the cavity and make sure the bottom tabs are in the slots that belong in on the bottom.
Start at the bottom of the radiator and reconnect all the hoses. To do this, smear a small amount of transmission fluid onto the cooler lines fittings and push the line back onto the fitting. Tighten the screw on the clamp with the screwdriver. No fluid is needed for the bottom radiator hose. Slide it onto the fitting and tighten the screw on the clamp with the screwdriver. Make sure these hoses are tight so there are no leaks.
Locate the bolts that came out of the sides of the radiator and replace them using the same socket and ratchet combination as you used when removing them.
On the top of the radiator, replace the top radiator hose and tighten the clamp. Make sure it is tight so it does not leak. Replace the 2 clips that came out of the slots on the top. Now replace the 2 bolts on the top with the same combination as you used when removing them. Place 1 gallon of anti-freeze and coolant in the radiator. Fill the rest of the way with water.
Start the truck. It should heat up quickly. As the water in the radiator goes down, pour more into the radiator. It will cool the radiator off quickly and close the thermostat. Allow the temperature to heat up again. This will cause the water in the radiator to be pushed out. Simply place your hand over the spout and try to keep it from losing very much water. When it has heated up, refill the radiator with water. Place the radiator cap on the spout and you are ready for the road once again.
This procedure should not take longer than 40 minutes total time. In less than an hour you removed your old radiator and replaced it with a new one. The exact same job a shop would charge you $ 250 for you did and it only cost you a little time and a gallon of anti-freeze and coolant plus the cost of the radiator. You saved yourself no less than $ 100.