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Pelican Technical Article:

Replacing the Radiator

Steve Vernon

Time:

4 hours4 hrs

Tab:

$75 to $125

Talent:

**

Tools:

T25, T30 Torx, 10mm, 13mm socket, flathead screwdriver, pliers

Applicable Models:

VW Golf GTI (2000)
VW Golf GTI 1.8T (2002-05)
VW Golf GTI 20th Anniversary (2003)
VW Golf GTI 337 (2002)
VW Golf GTI GLS (2001)

Parts Required:

New radiator, gaskets

Hot Tip:

Work on a cool car

Performance Gain:

Proper engine temperature

Complementary Modification:

New hoses

The radiators on the Volkswagen GTI Mark 4 like any other car can wear out with time and age. The unit itself is expensive to replace, so before you buy a new one, pressure test the cooling system first and verify the location of any leaks. It will be easier and cheaper to replace a radiator hose or clamp than replacing the whole radiator.

Replacing the radiator on the GTI 4 is a fairly involved job that requires removing a lot of components on the car including basically the entire front section. If you take your time and begin by working on a cool car you will be fine.

A couple of safety precautions/instructions you may want to observe before beginning:

Allow cooling system to cool down. Open the cap of cooling system slowly; turn a conventional coolant cap as far as the first detent and turn a screwed coolant cap approx. 1/2 turn and release the pressure. Wear protective gloves, protective clothing and eye protection. NEVER pour coolant into beverage bottles, cups, etc... Someone might accidentally pick that cup up and start to drink.

If the coolant in the car is new there is no reason to replace it as long as you drain it into a clean container. Coolant is expensive and not great for the environment, so if the coolant in your car is good, try and save it to reuse.

Before you start, disconnect the ground terminal from the battery and make sure it cannot accidentally make contact with it while working

Begin by safely jacking up and supporting your car. With the car safely off the ground you will need to remove the engine tray. A great many of these car have had the engine trays and front side shields removed over the years and not replaced. If you happen to have a car that still has all the under trays and original hardware here is what you need to do. There are four T25 Torx bolts holding the tray on, remove them and slide the tray back out of the friction clips on the front air dam.

There is access hole in the left side shield that you can access the drain plug from, or if you want to remove the shield it is held in place by friction at the front and a speed clip on the frame rail.

With the tray removed you will see the radiator drain plug on the lower left front of the car. Place a catch bucket or tray under the plug and open the drain plug. The fluid drains out a small spigot facing downward. Drain the radiator completely. Open the fluid reservoir to assist in draining.

Disconnect the hose from the lower right side of the radiator. This is a quick disconnect fitting. Lift up the retaining pin and wiggle the connection off the radiator outlet. Make sure you replace the gasket inside before reattaching.

On the top left side of the engine are two small covers over the radiator hose. They are held in place by 4 Philips head screws. Remove these. Remove the radiator hose clamp and hose.

Open the fluid reservoir to assist in draining.

You are going to need to remove the front bumper, grill and side markers. Please see our article on removing your front bumper to perform this work.

You next need to remove the headlights. Please see our article on removing your front headlights to perform this work.

Remove the Bowden cable from the hood latch.

Remove the eight T30 Torx screws that hold the radiator, A/C condenser and accessories to the lock carrier.

Working under the car, remove the lower hose from its clip. In the lower left corner of the radiator disconnect the three electrical connections. Next remove the T30 Torx screw holding the A/C bracket to the radiator.

Move back to the top side of the engine and disconnect the electrical connection on the right front of the lock carrier.

With all this done remove the two (one on each side) T30 Torx bolts securing the lock carrier to the front fender supports.

Gently slide the lock carrier, A/C condenser and radiator forward and off the car. The A/C lines are still connected so you will have to be prepared to support the A/C condenser and radiator when you remove the lock carrier.

You will now be able to separate the fan, shroud and radiator from the condenser, leaving the condenser attached to the vehicle. Make sure to clean all the debris caught between the radiator and condenser before you re-install them.

Separate the shroud from the radiator by removing the four T30 Torx screws holding it together.

If you need to replace anything associated with the fans now is a good time.

If you are just replacing the radiator you will need to remove all the accessories. There are four mounts that need to be transferred along with the upper hose connection. The upper hose connection removes the same way the lower did.

You will also need to transfer over the temperature sensor for the fans.

Before you put everything back together you might want to give some thought to doing any other jobs on the car where you would have limited access to the front of the engine.

Installation is the reverse of removal.

Figure 1

Before you start, disconnect the ground terminal from the battery and make sure it cannot accidentally make contact with it while working

Begin by safely jacking up and supporting your car.
Figure 2

Begin by safely jacking up and supporting your car. With the car safely off the ground you will need to remove the engine tray. A great many of these car have had the engine trays and front side shields removed over the years and not replaced. If you happen to have a car that still has all the under trays and original hardware here is what you need to do. There are four T25 Torx bolts (yellow arrows) holding the tray on, remove them and slide the tray back out of the friction clips (red arrows) on the front air dam.

Figure 3

This photo illustrates where the plate connects to the two side shields (red arrows)

There is access hole in the left side shield (red arrow) that you can access the drain plug from, or if you want to remove the shield it is held in place by friction at the front and a speed clip on the frame rail (yellow arrow).
Figure 4

There is access hole in the left side shield (red arrow) that you can access the drain plug from, or if you want to remove the shield it is held in place by friction at the front and a speed clip on the frame rail (yellow arrow).

With the tray removed you will see the radiator drain plug (red arrow) and spigot (yellow arrow) on the lower left front of the car.
Figure 5

With the tray removed you will see the radiator drain plug (red arrow) and spigot (yellow arrow) on the lower left front of the car. Place a catch bucket or tray under the plug and open the drain plug.

The fluid drains out a small spigot facing downward.
Figure 6

The fluid drains out a small spigot facing downward. Drain the radiator completely.

Open the fluid reservoir (red arrow) to assist in draining.
Figure 7

Open the fluid reservoir (red arrow) to assist in draining.

Disconnect the hose from the lower right side of the radiator.
Figure 8

Disconnect the hose from the lower right side of the radiator. This is a quick disconnect fitting. Lift up the retaining pin (yellow arrow) and wiggle the connection off the radiator outlet (red arrow). Make sure you install a new gasket before reinstallation.

On the top left side of the engine are two small covers over the radiator hose.
Figure 9

On the top left side of the engine are two small covers over the radiator hose. They are held in place by 4 Philips head screws (red arrows). Remove these.

Remove the radiator hose clamp and hose (red arrow).
Figure 10

Remove the radiator hose clamp and hose (red arrow).

Remove the Bowden cable from the hood latch (yellow arrows).
Figure 11

Remove the Bowden cable from the hood latch (yellow arrows).

Remove the eight T30 Torx screws that hold the radiator, A/C condenser and accessories to the lock carrier.
Figure 12

Remove the eight T30 Torx screws that hold the radiator, A/C condenser and accessories to the lock carrier.

Working under the car, remove the lower hose from its clip.
Figure 13

Working under the car, remove the lower hose from its clip.

In the lower left corner of the radiator disconnect the three electrical connections (yellow arrows).
Figure 14

In the lower left corner of the radiator disconnect the three electrical connections (yellow arrows).

Next remove the T30 Torx screw (yellow arrow) holding the A/C bracket to the radiator.
Figure 15

Next remove the T30 Torx screw (yellow arrow) holding the A/C bracket to the radiator.

Move back to the top side of the engine and disconnect the electrical connection on the right front of the lock carrier (yellow arrow).
Figure 16

Move back to the top side of the engine and disconnect the electrical connection on the right front of the lock carrier (yellow arrow). With all this done remove the two (one on each side, red arrow) T30 Torx bolts securing the lock carrier to the front fender supports.

Gently slide the lock carrier, A/C condenser and radiator forward and off the car.
Figure 17

Gently slide the lock carrier, A/C condenser and radiator forward and off the car. The A/C lines are still connected so you will have to be prepared to support the A/C condenser and radiator when you remove the lock carrier (red arrow).

You will now be able to separate the fan, shroud and radiator (red arrow) from the condenser, leaving the condenser attached to the vehicle.
Figure 18

You will now be able to separate the fan, shroud and radiator (red arrow) from the condenser, leaving the condenser attached to the vehicle.

This photo illustrates where the A/C lines remain intact (yellow arrows).
Figure 19

This photo illustrates where the A/C lines remain intact (yellow arrows). Make sure to clean all the debris caught between the radiator and condenser before you reinstall them.

Separate the shroud from the radiator by removing the four T30 Torx screws (yellow arrows) holding it together.
Figure 20

Separate the shroud from the radiator by removing the four T30 Torx screws (yellow arrows) holding it together.

If you need to replace anything associated with the fans now is a good time.
Figure 21

If you need to replace anything associated with the fans now is a good time.

If you are just replacing the radiator you will need to remove all the accessories.
Figure 22

If you are just replacing the radiator you will need to remove all the accessories. There are four mounts (yellow arrow, one shown) that need to be transferred along with the upper hose connection (red arrow). The upper hose connection removes the same way the lower connection did.

You will also need to transfer over the temperature sensor (red arrow) for the fans.
Figure 23

You will also need to transfer over the temperature sensor (red arrow) for the fans.

Before you put everything back together you might want to give some thought to doing any other jobs on the car where you would have limited access to the front of the engine.
Figure 24

Before you put everything back together you might want to give some thought to doing any other jobs on the car where you would have limited access to the front of the engine.

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