4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD! - Click here for details!

4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD!


It is well known that the TJ Radiator is prone to leaking from the upper passenger side corner where the plastic top is crimped onto the aluminum body.  Mine was no exception.  From time to time it would weep a little bit, usually when the engine was just warming up. 

Evidence of Leakage
Evidence of Leakage

When cold or fully up to temperature, it was fine but that in between range was sometimes trouble.  I just made sure I had enough fluid in there and checked the temperature gauge routinely.

I went to an OCC Club lunch one Friday at Fuddruckers in Tyson's Corner and noticed that there was a green puddle under the front of my Jeep soon after I parked.  I opened the hood and found the radiator leaking from the corner much faster than ever.  I decided it was time to remedy this problem.

Now those in the know will tell you that it is a waste of time to rebuild this particular radiator.  It is doomed to fail in the same way.   That may be, but the cost of a new radiator was not in my budget, having just finished fixing the idler pulleys on the trail, and facing some rear axle seal work in the next couple days. 

My friend Carl had recently swapped his radiator out and had his rebuilt.  He was keeping this one on hand as a spare.  When I mentioned that I was going to swap mine out, he very graciously offered to trade me my leaky one and some money for his rebuilt one.  Done deal!  He plans to take mine to be rebuilt and stock-piled.

The install is typical for any radiator; made simpler by the fact that the air conditioning has a separate condenser, eliminating the need to discharge the A/C system.  What a relief!

I started draining the radiator into a clean recovery container.  I simply opened the drain valve at the bottom with my catch bin on a wheel ramp so it wouldn't splash all over the place.

I slid the overflow tank upwards in the notched openings that hold it to the radiator shroud, and removed it after sliding the overflow hose off the radiator fill opening.

Overflow Tank

While the radiator drained, I removed the four self-tapping screws that hold the fan shroud to the radiator supports.

Then I removed the hoses, top and bottom.  The factory clamps can be released using a pair of drop-jaw pliers.  I purchased hoses in case the old ones were seized or damaged but they came off easily and were still very pliable, and did not have any cracks or stretched sections.  I will keep the new hoses for spares.

With the fan shroud slid back to the engine block, I removed the six bolts that hold the radiator to the vehicle.  They came off with either a socket or spanner.  One of the bolts holds the front differential breather hose, so I was careful to set that to one side and reconnect it later when I reassembled the radiator.

Mounting PointsMounting Points

The lower passenger side one was particularly unpleasant owing to the tight space available for my bear paw and wrench.

The radiator finished draining.  I lifted it straight up being careful not to drag it on the fan blades or other parts.  Then I carefully removed the fan shroud, just barely sneaking it between the fan clutch and the a/c condenser.  It is not necessary to remove the shroud but I wanted to clean it up.

Fan Shroud

While the radiator was out, I put the correct bolts in place on the idler pulley that I had replaced on the trail a few days earlier

Radiator Removed

I cleaned all the dirt and mud that I can never reach with the radiator in the way.  I scrubbed down all the radiator fluid stains so it will be easier to spot new leaks.


I saved the fan belt routing label to reaffix to the new radiator.

Label, Belt Path

In the end I ordered a new sticker from the dealer.

Belt Routing Sticker (1999)

With everything cleaned up, I put the parts back together in reverse order of disassembly. 

Rebuilt Radiator

I reconnected the hoses and made sure the drain was closed.  Then I poured radiator fluid back into the radiator through the cap on the radiator, and filled up the overflow tank.  The vacuum created when the engine cools off later will draw fluid from the overflow tank into the radiator.  Then it can be topped off to the "FULL" mark on the overflow tank.

Radiator, Overflow and Shroud
Radiator, Hose and Shroud
Radiator, Hose and Shroud
Radiator, Fan, Power Steering/Brakes Pump
Overflow Tank

Radiator Part Number

I started the engine and checked for leaks.  At first I was alarmed to see fluid running from the bottom of the radiator but I soon determined it was plain water being sucked out of the a/c condenser - it had gotten in there when I cleaned everything off.

No leaks appeared and I let the Jeep run to come up to temperature.  Later, when it had cooled off completely, I returned to check the fluid level and for leaks.  The fluid had been drawn into the radiator as expected, so I mixed some radiator fluid in a 50-50 mix with de-mineralized water and topped up the overflow tank.  There were no leaks anywhere (so far...).

This job was easy.  There was more time invested in getting the parts and supplies than the actual swap itself. 

RADIATOR, Engine Cooling Aluminum (rebuilt/exchange) 5208 0183AB 
HOSE, Radiator Inlet (reused) 5202 8264
HOSE, Radiator To Pump (reused) 5202 8143
CLAMP, Hose to Radiator (4) (reused) 5200 5580
LABEL, Belt Routing 5301 0298
Anti Freeze (<3 gallons)  

That was due in part to the spare radiator being handy.



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