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Installing a Center Radiator on the Porsche 911 Carrera
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Installing a Center Radiator on the Porsche 911 Carrera

Time:

8 hours8 hrs

Tab:

$550

Talent:

****

Tools:

8mm socket, Socket Wrench, Flathead Screwdriver, Marker, Phillips Screwdriver, Pliers or a Crowbar, Jack Stands, Floor Jack

Applicable Models:

Porsche 996 Carrera models (1999-05)
Porsche 996 Turbo, GT2, GT3 (2001-05)
Porsche 997 Carrera models (2005-12)
Porsche 997 Turbo, GT2, GT3 (2007-13)

Parts Required:

Center radiator, brackets, hoses, clamps, nuts, bolts

Hot Tip:

Cut your front bumper instead of buying a new one

Performance Gain:

Cooler-running engine

Complementary Modification:

Clean out side radiators and replace hoses

The venerable GT3 design includes a center-mounted radiator that was sometimes installed on various Carrera models as well (mostly Tiptronic transmission equipped cars). The larger, more powerful engine dictated the use of the front-mounted radiator in addition to the two standard side radiators. Adding the front-mounted radiator is a good upgrade for cars that will be driven in hot weather or have undergone some performance modifications. In particular, if you're going to be taking your Carrera out to the track someday, I would recommend the installation of the additional radiator. It will provide some significant added protection against overheating, as it typically reduces the highest operating temperatures by about 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit (7-12 degrees Celsius) after installation.

The first step is to gather all your needed parts and pre-assemble the radiator assembly on your bench (see Photo 1 and 2). Pay careful attention to the radiator inlets and outlets as well as the frame tab locations, as it's very easy to assemble this backwards the first time. Lay out all your parts and make sure that you have everything that you need prior to tearing apart the car. This project details the installation on an early 996-type car, but the upgrade kit for the 2005 and later 997 cars is very similar (different part numbers).

Next, jack up the car, remove the two front wheels, the front bumper cover and the lower part of the inner wheelwell liners (see Project 68). Next, remove the air scoops, detach the air conditioning condensers, empty the engine coolant, and loosen the radiator assembly so that you can drop down the whole assembly (see Project 32).

Replace the lower hose on the passenger side with the new three-way hose that will feed the radiator. Use new adjustable hose clamps, as shown in the bottom of Photo 2. Rotate the hose so that the small section of the hose is properly oriented to mate with the top of the center radiator port. Now, replace the hose on the upper left side, again positioning the small portion of the hose so that it will mate with the top of the center radiator when installed. This left-side hose twists and bends in a crazy pattern--use Photos 3 and 4 as a guide on how to properly route it.

I also realized that the center radiator bracket cuts into the air conditioning lines that run near the upper bracket of the center radiator. I solved this issue by adding extra protection with zip ties and pieces from a rubber hose to wrap the air conditioning lines (see Photo 5).

Now attach the center radiator to its position in the center of the car. Loosely attach the radiator using the top two M8 bolts and the corresponding speed nuts that clip into place on the chassis (see photo 5). Attach and clamp the left and right hoses to the radiator--loosen and remove one of the M8 bolts if you need to gain enough room to secure the hose. When the hoses are secure, attach the remaining M8 bolts and speed nuts and secure the radiator to the chassis.

To finish, reattach the radiators and air conditioning condensers and tighten up all of the hardware that holds them in place. Refill up the car with the coolant you removed, or use a new quantity of coolant equal to what came out when you disconnected the radiator hoses. Start the car up and let it run for a few minutes to check for leaks.

After confirming that the car is leak-free, attach the rubber surround onto the center radiator, install the left and right rubber air ducts, and reinstall the wheelwells and the bumper cover. When modifying your bumper cover to accommodate the center radiator, you can cut your own insert out as per the instructions I provide with Photo 6 and 7. Cutting is not necessary on the 997 as the center section just unclips and can be removed.

When everything is buttoned up properly, bleed the entire cooling system as described in Project 29. Over the next few days, check the coolant level regularly, and also check for coolant leaks when you park the car.

The factory thermostat starts to open at about 187 degrees Fahrenheit (86 degrees Celsius) and only fully opens at almost 210 degrees Fahrenheit (99 degrees Celsius). This means that the effects of the front-mounted radiators are limited until the engine gets very hot. For this reason, I recommend installing a low-temp thermostat in conjunction with the center-mounted radiator upgrade. See Project 34 for more details.

Here are the parts that you will need for your 996 center radiator installation.
Figure 1

Here are the parts that you will need for your 996 center radiator installation. The parts are available from PelicanParts.com as complete kits for either the 996 (1998-2005) or the 997 Carreras. 996 Shown:
A: Driver's side radiator hose
B:
Front rubber air guide
C:
Passenger side radiator hose
D: Upper radiator bracket
E: Lower radiator bracket
F: 4 Radiator spacers
G: Hose clamps (Qty 2) and Qty 4
H: Mounting hardware: Qty 4: Hex Bolt M6x12 | Qty 4: Speed Nut M6 | Qty 2: Hex Bolt M8x16 | Qty 2: Speed Nut M8
I: Center radiator (997 Not Shown) | Center Radiator Upper Retaining Frame | Lower Retaining Frame | Rubber Moldings (Qty 4) | Hexagon Head Bolts M6X16 (Qty 2) | Speed Nut M6 (Qty 2) | Hexagon Head Bolts (Qty 4) | Speed Nuts M8 (Qty 4) | Air Duct Radiator Center | Water Hose Return Line | Water Hose Supply Line

This photo shows the new center radiator with the upper and lower mounting brackets installed.
Figure 2

This photo shows the new center radiator with the upper and lower mounting brackets installed. This side of the radiator faces the rear of the car. Pay close attention to the tabs on the radiator brackets--the top tab attaches near the front, the bottom tab attaches near the rear of the bracket. When installed, the radiator will be facing slightly upwards at an angle.

Here's a useful diagram showing the routing of the hoses for the three radiator setup.
Figure 3

Here's a useful diagram showing the routing of the hoses for the three radiator setup. As shown in the photo, you need to replace the lower radiator hose on the right side of the car and the upper radiator hose on the left side of the car. The center radiator "taps" into the hoses for the left and right radiators and provides additional cooling. In the 997 the supply and return hoses for the center radiator are much simpler. They attach directly to the supply side on one radiator and the return side on the other via a short hose.

This photo demonstrates exactly the hoses that are to be replaced (yellow arrows).
Figure 4

This photo demonstrates exactly the hoses that are to be replaced (yellow arrows). The photo on the left shows the upper radiator line on the driver's side while the right shows the lower radiator hose on the passenger side of the 996.

This photo shows a 997 with the front bumper and right side air diverter removed.
Figure 5

This photo shows a 997 with the front bumper and right side air diverter removed. Porsche redesigned the radiators for the 997, which makes the installation of a center radiator very easy. The new radiators have a built in quick disconnect for the hoses to the center radiator. Pull the quick disconnect wire on the left radiator (lower part of the radiator, yellow arrows) and insert the new hose. On the right side remove the quick disconnect wire on the radiator (upper part of the radiator, green arrows) and insert the new hose. Attach both hoses to the center radiator. The A/C lines have also been rerouted and are no longer an issue with interference. Insert photo shows the supply hose (purple arrow) and the return hose (red arrow) to the left side radiator.

Shown here is the center radiator installed on a 996 just prior to putting the front bumper cover back on.
Figure 6

Shown here is the center radiator installed on a 996 just prior to putting the front bumper cover back on. Note how the air conditioning hoses have been wrapped with protective rubber (old radiator hoses) since the upper center radiator bracket tends to wear into them (green arrows). The lower left insert photo shows the proper orientation of the speed nut fasteners- the chassis should already have the mounting brackets built in.

On the 996 you can drill out the opening for the front radiator yourself and reuse your old bumper cover.
Figure 7

On the 996 you can drill out the opening for the front radiator yourself and reuse your old bumper cover. Behind the front bumper, is a plastic air inlet panel that is clipped in along the bumper cover - using a flathead screwdriver, unclip the 20 clips (10 clips require one motion: push the screwdriver into the clip and lift up to unhook the clip from the bumper cover; the rest require you to just lift the clip with the screwdriver while pulling the air inlet panel away from the bumper cover). On the 997 you do not have to worry about drilling. The center piece just unclips and comes right off.

Once your air inlet panel is removed, using a marker, trace the outline of the opening for the center radiator.
Figure 8

Once your air inlet panel is removed, using a marker, trace the outline of the opening for the center radiator. Using a Dremmel tool and a milling bit, carefully make your cut in the air inlet panel. Test-fit the inside plastic retainer to make sure that they fit together well: if all is well then reinstall the air ducts, the front bumper.

Here's a photo showing the center radiator installed.
Figure 9

Here's a photo showing the center radiator installed. The rubber air guide inside connects to the inner retaining piece and channels air through the center radiator.

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Comments and Suggestions:
Don Comments: I have a 1999 Carrera C2 coupe. I noticed your center radiator kit for this car does not include the rear air deflector Part number: 996.575.15101. Any reason for not including a rear air duct deflector for this center radiator kit add on? Thanks.
October 23, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It may be a mistake in the part kit. I will have someone look into it. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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