Hardlymoving writes about do-it-yourself automobile maintenance on various makes and models.
I purchased a used '97 Lexus ES300 with 165,000 miles that had many problems. The radiator hoses looked swollen and showed signs of softening, and the plastic radiator core showed hairline cracks. To play it safe, having already replaced the water pump, I decided to complete the cooling system service by replacing the radiator as well.
I chose a Denso brand replacement radiator to ensure a perfect replacement fit. Denso is an OE (Original Equipment) supplier for Toyota as well as other Japanese auto manufacturers. Their quality and reliability are worth the extra cost in my opinion.
Specialty Tools and Products Recommended for This Job
Some out-of-the-ordinary tools (pictured below) can make this job easier.
- Hose clamp pliers. Cross-slotted jaw pliers or wide, flat-band hose clamp pliers will ease compression of the spring clamps on the upper and lower radiator hoses. These pliers have a ratchet locking mechanism to keep the spring clamp compressed during hose removal and installation. Also, the jaws swivel, making it easier to mount the clamps in awkward locations.
- Flexible wire-shaft long-reach hose clamp pliers. These pliers are great to access and compress hose clamps that are very difficult to get to. They can be used where the cross slotted jaw or flat band hose clamp pliers cannot be used.
- Spill-free coolant funnel. I've recently purchased and used this tool for filling cooling systems and it works. There are virtually no spills when you use it to fill a vacated cooling system, and you can keep the car running with the funnel attached while air bubbles are getting pushed out. You can transfer the excess coolant back to your coolant container after all air bubbles are gone.
- Hose pick or hose removal tool. Hoses have a tendency to "stick" to their fittings and can be difficult to remove. Using a hose pick will help break the adhesion between the hose and the fitting.
- Silicone grease. Also known as plumber's grease or di-electric grease, silicone grease is waterproof, will not react with rubber, and eases installation of hoses.
Video: Replacing Radiator and Hoses on a Lexus ES 300 (or Camry V6)
This twelve-minute video (starting from time 3:29) will show you visual step-by-step help for completing the replacement of the radiator on a Lexus ES 300. The steps are also described lower down in the article.
Step-by-Step Instructions: Lexus ES 300 (or Camry V6) Radiator and Hose Replacement
Below I discuss the instructions in the video above, step by step.
Step I. Drain the Coolant from the Radiator
- To avoid having to go under the car to loosen the coolant release petcock, you should remove the driver's-side radiator fan shroud. After the shroud has been removed, you can then easily reach down and twist the petcock loose to release the radiator's coolant.
- Detach the electrical connector on top of the driver's-side fan shroud.
- Detach the electrical connector halfway down on the driver's-side fan shroud.
- Detach the male plug attached to the driver's-side fan shroud from step 3.
- Remove the two 10-mm bolts that hold the top portion of the driver's side fan shroud from the radiator.
- Pull off the driver's-side fan shroud and remove it from the radiator. Detach the electrical line attached to the bottom of the shroud during removal.
- Place a drain pan under the coolant path of the petcock.
- You can now reach down and twist the petcock loose to begin draining the coolant. Removing the radiator cap will make coolant flow out faster.
Step II. Disconnect the Supply and Return ATF Hoses From the Radiator
- Pinch the ATF (Automatic Transmission Fluid) hose clamps and push them away from the transmission connection ports.
- Break the adhesion between the ATF hoses and the transmission connection ports, using either needle-nose pliers or hose pliers to twist the hoses.
- Detach the hoses from the transmission connection ports.
Step III. Remove the Upper Radiator Hose
- Pinch the hose clamp where the upper radiator hose meets the radiator and move the clamp away from the radiator connection port. Pull off the hose. If the hose is stuck on, use either a hose pick or channel-lock pliers to break the adhesion.
- Remove the upper radiator hose where it meets the engine connection port. Repeat the hose disconnection procedure in point 1 just above.
Step IV. Remove the AC Fan Shroud (Passenger Side)
- Disconnect the electrical fitting mounted on the top of the AC fan shroud.
- Remove the two 10 mm upper fan shroud bolts.
- Remove the one 10 mm bottom fan shroud bolt.
- Pull the AC fan shroud up and off of the radiator.
Step V. Remove the Old Radiator
- The upper radiator mount bolts are located under a black plastic cover secured by plastic push pins. Remove the push pins first, then the cover.
- This will expose the two upper radiator mounts that support the upper portion of the radiator. Remove each of the bolts that secure the mounts.
- (This is optional: you can do it now or later.) Detach the temperature sensor electrical connector at the bottom corner of the radiator. Then detach the connector's electrical cable from the bottom center of the radiator.
- Remove the lower radiator hose from the engine block (not from the radiator). Pinch the spring clamp and slide it down from where the hose meets the coolant port, then twist the hose off the fitting. If the hose is fused on, use a hose pick to break loose the adhesion.
- Physically pull the radiator, along with everything attached to it, out of the engine compartment.
Step VI. Transfer the Old Radiator Components to the New Radiator
1. Transfer the following from the old radiator to the new radiator:
- Supply and return ATF lines and hose clamps
- Bottom radiator mount bushings
- Temperature sensor on the bottom right corner
- Lower radiator hose. If you are replacing the hose, transfer the hose clamps from the old to the new hose. (See the video below to see why spring clamps are the best type of clamp for radiator hoses.)
- Electrical line that connects to the temperature sensor. Afterwards, fasten the electrical line clip to the bottom of the radiator clip hole.
2. Bolt on the condenser fan shroud (passenger side shroud)
*Note: To ease the installation of any hose, use silicone grease (di-electric or plumber's grease) on the contact surfaces.
Video: Worm Clamps Vs. Spring Clamps
Step VII. Install the New Radiator
- Position the new radiator into the engine compartment and align the radiator's bottom mount bushings with the bushing holes.
- Re-attach the upper radiator mounts and bolt them on.
- Re-attach the radiator fan shroud (driver's side) by aligning the shroud's bottom pegs with the radiator's peg hole. Secure the shroud with the two 10-mm upper bolts.
- Attach the two electrical fittings to the left side of the fan shroud. Make sure the electrical line is clipped in place.
- Ensure all bolts are torqued down.
- Attach the electrical fitting on the condenser shroud (passenger side).
Step VIII. Connect the Radiator Upper and Lower Hoses and the ATF Lines
- Connect the upper radiator hose (new or old) to the radiator and the engine block. The spring clamps and hose insulator should be pre-attached to the hose before fitting onto the radiator and engine.
- Connect the lower hose to the engine block. The spring clamp should be pre-attached on the hose before connecting to the engine block. Afterwards, the clamp can be pinched and slide onto the engine block port.
- Slide back on the supply and return ATF lines to the transmission connection ports. Squeeze and slide the hose clamps where the hose meets the connection ports.
Step IX. Reinstall the Upper Radiator Cover and Refill the Cooling System
- Position the upper radiator cover over the radiator, align the push pin holes, and install the push pins.
- Refill the cooling system with fresh pre-mixed coolant. I recommend you use the Toyota pink coolant and not the generic green coolant.
Using a Spill-Free Coolant Funnel
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2018 hardlymoving