How to Replace the Radiator in a 1998 Jeep

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The radiator in your 1998 Jeep works as a heat exchanger, circulating cool air around thin tubes that carry the hot coolant from the engine. The construction and placement of the radiator makes it susceptible to damage from road debris or other objects. Replacing the radiator with a new unit will allow the engine to run cooler. If the radiator is leaking, it will continue to get worse if you don’t replace it. A new radiator is available from most auto parts retailers.

Things You'll Need

  • Drain pan
  • Flat screwdriver
  • Wrench set
  • Socket set
  • Ratchet
  • Open the hood of your Jeep and locate the radiator cap on the top of the radiator. Remove the cap and set it aside. Position a large, clean drain pan under the passenger’s side of the radiator, directly under the drain petcock on the base of the radiator.

  • Open the radiator drain petcock and allow the coolant to drain into the pan. Move up to the engine compartment and, with a flat screwdriver, loosen the hose clamp on the upper radiator hose where it attaches to the radiator. Push the hose off to one side so it is out of the way.

  • Move to the bottom of the radiator and remove with a wrench the two cooling lines for the transmission that thread into the bottom tank of the radiator. If your Jeep has a manual transmission, these lines will not be there.

  • Remove the lower radiator hose after loosening the hose clamp on the radiator end of the hose with a flat screwdriver. Push the hose aside. Locate the wiring harness connector that plugs into the electric fan on the radiator. Depress the locking tab on the connector and separate the two halves.

  • Locate and remove the two mounting bolts on the radiator with a socket and ratchet. There is one on each side of the radiator near the top. Set the bolts aside to use when you install the new radiator.

  • Grasp the radiator with one hand on each side and pull it straight up and out of the engine compartment. Locate the four mounting bolts that hold the electric fan and shroud on the radiator. Remove the bolts with a socket and ratchet, then remove the fan and shroud from the radiator.

  • Install the fan and shroud on the new radiator. Then, position the new radiator in the engine compartment, sliding it in from the top while aligning the dowel pins on the bottom of the radiator with the holds in the frame cross member below the radiator.

  • Install the mounting bolts from the original radiator into the new radiator and tighten them with a socket and ratchet. Connect the lower radiator hose to the radiator and tighten the hose clamp with a flat screwdriver. If your Jeep has an automatic transmission, connect the cooling lines from the transmission in the threaded holes in the lower tank of the radiator and tighten them with a wrench.

  • Install the upper radiator hose onto the radiator and tighten the hose clamp with a flat screwdriver. Fill the radiator with coolant and start the engine, allowing it to run until it reaches normal operating temperature. Continue to add coolant as the level drops, then replace the radiator cap. Close the hood of your Jeep.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not attempt this repair if the engine is hot. Hot coolant is under pressure and can cause severe burns.

References

  • "Jeep Wrangler Factory Service Manual"; The Chrylser Group; 1998
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
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