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Pelican Technical Article:
VW / Audi Radiator and Hose Replacement

Peter Bodensteiner

 

 
Time: 4 hours
Tab: $150
Talent:  
Tools:
Hose clamp pliers, screwdrivers, wrenches
Applicable Models:
Audi A4 (1997-01)
Audi TT (2000-04)
VW Passat (1996-00)
VW Golf (2000-02)
VW Jetta (2000-02)
VW Beetle (1999-02)
Parts Required:
Hoses and clamps
Hot Tip:
Use a razor blade to cut old hoses off.
Performance Gain:
Better engine cooling
Complementary Modification:
Replace thermostat
 
   

   

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     The radiator is one of the basic components of any water-cooled car. It is basic in another sense in that it is quite simple--it's a metal rectangle full of tubes and fins through which engine coolant flows.

     A radiator, or its hoses, sometimes needs to be replaced. In the Audi A4 this is a relatively simple job, with only a few tricks to it. In the photos below, the radiator support is in the service position. Note, however, that this does not need to be the case in order to do this project. It will make access to some components a bit more difficult, but certainly not impossible.

     If you're replacing the radiator hoses, all you need to do first is drain the coolant. If you are replacing the radiator, drain the coolant and then remove the bumper. Refer to the service position project for instructions on this, as well as on moving the power steering cooler loop out of the way. Removing the radiator has other benefits. If you need to access the front of the engine, having the radiator out of the way is a big help.
Let's start with the upper radiator hose.
Figure 1
Let's start with the upper radiator hose. Just in front of the engine's intake manifold, this hose connects to a black pipe. Note the corresponding marks on the hose and the pipe to indicate the proper orientation.
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Use locking pliers to grasp the hose clamp and move it toward the middle of the hose.
Figure 2
Use locking pliers to grasp the hose clamp and move it toward the middle of the hose.
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Pull the hose away from the pipe, twisting and pulling as necessary.
Figure 3
Pull the hose away from the pipe, twisting and pulling as necessary. You can insert a small screwdriver between the hose and pipe to help break any seal that might be holding the two together.
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On the radiator side, the upper radiator hose connection is a bit different.
Figure 4
On the radiator side, the upper radiator hose connection is a bit different. Lift this metal clip up using a screwdriver and then pull the hose straight off of the radiator. Don't twist the hose to remove it; notches inside the hose interlock with the radiator's pipe
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Here's a closer look at the radiator side of the upper hose and the indentations that hold it in position on the radiator pipe.
Figure 5
Here's a closer look at the radiator side of the upper hose and the indentations that hold it in position on the radiator pipe.
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Moving to the bottom of the radiator, you need to remove this electrical connection.
Figure 6
Moving to the bottom of the radiator, you need to remove this electrical connection. It's a bit hard to reach it, but once you can get your hand on it, squeeze the ribbed top and bottom to release the connector and then pull it straight away from the radiator.
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Now you can remove the lower radiator hose.
Figure 7
Now you can remove the lower radiator hose. Like the radiator side of the upper hose, this has a similar metal clip holding it on, except this one comes in from the side instead of from the top. Again, you can release the clip using a screwdriver. The other end of this hose attaches at the thermostat housing; see the water pump and thermostat replacement project for more detail.
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It can be hard to find enough leverage to pull the lower hose off, but it can be done; it may be more difficult with the radiator support panel in the standard position.
Figure 8
It can be hard to find enough leverage to pull the lower hose off, but it can be done; it may be more difficult with the radiator support panel in the standard position. Like the upper hose, this connection has notches that will prevent it from turning, so don't try to twist the hose in order to loosen it. You can wiggle it, but mostly just pull it straight away from the radiator. Despite the fact that you have probably already drained the coolant from every possible outlet, there will still be coolant in the system, and it will come out when you remove the lower hose. If you've moved underneath the car to remove this hose, remember that you have been warned!
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OK, if you are truly removing the radiator, and not just moving it out of the way, and your car is equipped with air conditioning, you'll need to remove the A/C condensor from the front of the radiator.
Figure 9
OK, if you are truly removing the radiator, and not just moving it out of the way, and your car is equipped with air conditioning, you'll need to remove the A/C condenser from the front of the radiator. It is attached by four bolts, two on the passenger side ...
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.
Figure 10
...and two more of the same on the driver's side. You can now swing the condenser out of the way toward the passenger side - it will still be attached to the car via its refrigerant lines.
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The radiator is held in place at the top with two removable plastic plugs.
Figure 11
The radiator is held in place at the top with two removable plastic plugs. Insert a narrow screwdriver into the center and move this flexible tab toward the middle.
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Moving the tab releases the plug.
Figure 12
Moving the tab releases the plug. If you have trouble pulling it out, you can insert a second screwdriver underneath the edge of the plug to lift it away from the radiator.
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The top of the radiator should now tip out away from the front of the car.
Figure 13
The top of the radiator should now tip out away from the front of the car. It is still held in place at the bottom by two prongs that are inserted into two round holes in the radiator support panel.
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Lift the radiator up and out of the holes in the support panel and you can either remove it entirely, or swing it out of the way if the condensor is still attached to the front.
Figure 14
Lift the radiator up and out of the holes in the support panel and you can either remove it entirely, or swing it out of the way if the condenser is still attached to the front. As you can see here, many of the accessory belts are now with easy reach. You can also get a sense of how much coolant remained in the radiator when I removed it! Reverse the steps to put this all back together, or to install your new parts. Refer to the coolant change project for more on flushing and refilling the cooling system.
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Comments and Suggestions:
JA Comments: Thanks for the tips it helped
July 9, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the follow up. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
echofreez Comments: wow !need to go back to the beginning on that one! changing all of the hoses .....didn't show any of them ! come on , you guys need help writing this stuff ? people go to this site for information, and your site provides very little of that. so on to search someplace else.
January 4, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. If we get the chance to create an article for all of the rubber hoses we will. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Bob Comments: Your instructions are terrific but incomplete. The radiator also has two ATF transmission lines connections on the radiator side. They were nearly impossible to remove. If they aren't removed, the radiator will not come out.
October 11, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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  Applies to: 2000 Audi TT, 2001 Audi TT, 2002 Audi TT, 2003 Audi TT, 2004 Audi TT, 2001 A4 Quattro, 1996 Passat, 1997 Passat, 1998 A4 Quattro, 2002 Beetle, 1998 Passat, 1999 Passat, 2002 A4 Quattro, 2000 Passat, 2000 Golf, 1999 A4 Quattro, 2001 Golf, 2002 Golf, 2000 Jetta, 2001 Jetta, 1997 A4 Quattro, 2002 Jetta, 2000 A4 Quattro, 1999 Beetle, 2000 Beetle, 2001 Beetle
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