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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-09-2015, 11:09 PM Thread Starter
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Replacing radiator without removing condenser

So my radiator started leaking... AGAIN on my 1998 Manual 5DR AWD.
This is number three to go in the car. One got a leak from some interference.
Another was second hand from a wrecker... lasted 2 years.

So the last two times I've done this job I followed advice from here and elsewhere to remove the condenser and hence make space to remove the rad.
Where I live right now a air-con regas is $280 bucks... not gonna happen.

Removing the condenser makes this job WAY easier. It is a 1.5 hour job if you do. I'm cheap and my time isn't worth much so I tried another way. It took around 5 hours to get it done with some stuffing around included.

This way probably won't work on the auto version as there is more interference from the transmission cooling lines.

Essentially you need to make enough room for the left fan to come out from between the engine and the rad.

See below for what I removed to make the space. I also removed the exhaust manifold heat shield. Important to remove the support that attaches to the hood latch.



You can then shuffle the right hand fan over to clear the lower rad pipe. With the condenser unbolted there is juuuust enough room to lift the radiator out from between the frame and condenser with some jiggling.

New rad didn't go in without some bent fins but that is a trade off I'm willing to make.

Hope this helps someone.
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-10-2015, 09:57 PM
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I did this about a day ago. It is definitely time consuming but it can be done.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-26-2019, 03:48 PM
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Been trying to do this all day but I can't seem to get enough access to the bottom fan bolts on either side. I'm fearing they may have started stripping.

Any suggestions? Can't move the car to get the AC discharged. Otherwise, I'd take it to the shop to have them do that and then pull the whole assembly out of the front.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-27-2019, 02:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Mumford67 View Post
Been trying to do this all day but I can't seem to get enough access to the bottom fan bolts on either side. I'm fearing they may have started stripping.

Any suggestions? Can't move the car to get the AC discharged. Otherwise, I'd take it to the shop to have them do that and then pull the whole assembly out of the front.
I had to use an angle grinder to cut the bolts on mine.

It may be that my sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

RAV4.1, 1999 RAV4, 3S-FE engine, E250F transaxle 5sp AWD, 5 door, LHD, Redneck Edition (RNE), Mossy Oak Obsession wrap, heavily modded, TOAD
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-27-2019, 08:07 PM
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Unfortunately I hardly have enough room to get a crescent wrench in there, let alone an angle grinder. My hands are so cut up from squeezing into tight spaces in the engine that I look like I've been in an industrial accident.

After two days and $50 in tools that just didn't work, I've decided to just bite the bullet, put everything back together and try to plastic weld the hell out of the radiator in hopes that I can get it running for short distances. That way, I can get the RAV to a shop to have the AC gas discharged. After that, I can just remove the condensor and then pull the radiator and fans out of the front. That will give me better access to remove the stripped fan bolts. Hate the idea of paying to have the AC recharged, but not as much as I hate the idea of paying $500-700 in labor costs to have the shop replace the radiator for me.

One thing that kills me is that one of the bolts actually turns but that's all it does. It doesn't loosen from the radiator.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-28-2019, 09:59 PM
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The last time I replaced mine, I spent 2 days trying to get it out without removing the condenser to no avail. I ended up cutting the wiring harness to the fan because it was stuck (just rewired when I reinstalled, ended up not being an issue). In the end I had to pay for the condenser discharge/recharge, but was still way better than paying someone else to install the radiator!
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-05-2019, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Mumford67 View Post
Unfortunately I hardly have enough room to get a crescent wrench in there, let alone an angle grinder. My hands are so cut up from squeezing into tight spaces in the engine that I look like I've been in an industrial accident.

One thing that kills me is that one of the bolts actually turns but that's all it does. It doesn't loosen from the radiator.

A cheap set of combination wrenches would really help you with this job, the crescent wrench is too big and clumsy in this case.
For the bolt, try lifting the head of the bolt with a small screwdriver or prybar, while you gently unscrew the bolt. You are just trying to get the treads to catch and start coming out. When you get the bolt out, replace it with a new one.

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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-05-2019, 09:41 AM
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When I replaced my radiator nearly 5 years ago with out removing the AC condenser, there was an excellent you-tube video that a guy in Australia had done on a 98 or 99 RAV4. The new radiator he installed the day before leaked, so he knew all the steps when he made the video. I watched it 3 times before I did mine and it went much easier than I thought it would, but just like he said it would go. Unfortunately I was new to you-tube and have never found the video again.

I didn't remove the exhaust heat-shield but I did remove the 2 bolts at the top of the condenser allowing the condenser to lean away from the radiator.

The only radiator Autozone carries is for the Automatic, but it will fit and work in the manual Rav4s.

One important step is after you have the radiator disconnected from everything but before you pick it up; Stop and look at where the upper hose connects, that is also the spot where the lower hose connector will come out! As you get the lower connector to that place where it can come out, pay attention to how you have the radiator as the new will need to go back in the same way. It actually fits good when you get it turned just right.

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Selectable DRL, Inactive ABS, In-dash CB with Wilson roof-mount antenna, Clearance 10'8".
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-05-2019, 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Roundabout View Post
When I replaced my radiator nearly 5 years ago with out removing the AC condenser, there was an excellent you-tube video that a guy in Australia had done on a 98 or 99 RAV4. The new radiator he installed the day before leaked, so he knew all the steps when he made the video. I watched it 3 times before I did mine and it went much easier than I thought it would, but just like he said it would go. Unfortunately I was new to you-tube and have never found the video again.

This one perhaps?

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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-05-2019, 05:52 PM
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I have seen that video before in my searches, but it is not the one I watched. The other video did a lot more step by step.

But this did remind me that I had mine on a set of ramps, I often raise the front-end to a more comfortable height and to have a little more access underneath if needed.

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Selectable DRL, Inactive ABS, In-dash CB with Wilson roof-mount antenna, Clearance 10'8".
2.0l 5-speed.
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