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 [Install] New 3 Core All Metal Radiator from CSF. « View previous topic :: View next topic » 
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2007 8:07 pm    Post subject: [Install] New 3 Core All Metal Radiator from CSF. Reply with quote

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Joined: 09 Apr 2006
Posts: 1769

[Install] New 3 Core All Metal Radiator from CSF.

UPDATE 7/21/2009
I had an issue with the CSF radiator that the water temperature creeping around 215 which has never happened before. However, it was occuring shortly after installing the new radiator so I thought the new radiator just did not cool as much as the factory version..

Since my water pump had been tirelessly turning for the last 11 years, I decided to swap it out with the new thermal clutch. While I was at it, I took a look at the radiator. Guess what? The radiator was leaking! I reported this high temperature problem almost 2 years ago somewhere in this write up, obviously it must have been leaking ever since.

The warranty on the radiator was denied from the when I called them 2 years ago. I have never followed up with it. Problem is now, the is just a franchise. Warranty is handled as case basis by the owner when HQ orders them to warranty it. My recommendation for you when purchasing radiator, pick it up from local part store. I had really good luck with Autozone for warranty replacement. They have replaced my drive belt with no questions asked.

Anyways, my "premium" replacement from Autozone is cooling my Jeep as it should and the coolant temperature does not reach 215, it stays at 210 +/- 1 degree.

CSF = POS = Bad Customer Service

I paid $199 plus tax for the new radiator from Autozone with their replacement warranty.


There are many components that go bad on TJs rather quickly compared to the same components on other vehicles on the road. Funny how we accept them as "Jeep Thing."

Sadly, the radiator is one of those things that will go bad on you. It is just the matter of time before it goes bad and it is up to you to spot them before it leaves you stranded somewhere. Some say it is the way it is designed causing it to leak; metal body with plastic top which expands at different rate with heat and others say it is the way it is mounted causing the radiator to vibrate along with the chassis. If you have a lot of mileage on your TJ, you should check your radiator in the following areas shown in the pictures for any leaks.

Whatever the reason it maybe, check your coolant at every oil change and make sure you flush them at least every 2 years. A bad radiator can easily ruin your engine beyond repair. As far as flushing your coolant goes, it is important because the coolant contains anti rust and other chemicals that will degrade over time. By flushing the system, you are also eliminating any contaminants that could have been circulating in the system.

Otherwise you might suffer the consequence of negligence such as this.

Mine was losing coolant rather slowly. Losing about 1/2" in the recovery tank at every 3000 miles. So I checked the radiator in the spot shown above, sure enough, there were leaks.

At around $175 shipped, I decided to swap it out to a 3 row metal radiator. You can expect to pay anywhere from $300-$600 if you want some shop to do this job.


Here is what you can expect to receive from the vendor of your choice. I believe they all sell the same brand at different prices. Just make sure you shop around to receive the best price around as the price can vary as much as $50. From my experience with, if you talk to the representative through online chat, you can ask if she/he speaking is a machine or human. It will come back and give you a discount code for guessing if she/he was a machine. It is a machine JFYI.

So what is the difference between 1 row vs. 3 rows?

**Note that there have been many debates as to number of rows versus the cooling efficiency. Unlike many would believe, in real world, it seems like the 1 row cools better than the 3 rows. There are number of people who have replaced to 3 row and experienced engine running higher than 210 Degree F when working the engine on the highway; with A/C and high ambient temperature like around 100 Degree F.

Tools and Parts Needed

3 Core All Metal Radiator (, $174.90 shipped next day).
Socket set
Large Mouth Pliers or a Channel lock
Vice Wrench
Upper and Lower Radiator Hoses
New Radiator Cap

Job Hours
~2 Hours


1. First of all make sure the TJ is completely cooled so you don't get burned. Start by draining the coolant by opening the drain valve at the bottom of the radiator. Make sure you remove the radiator cap while draining. ** I have heard many old radiators have drain valve shut solid. If this is the case remove the lower radiator hose to drain the coolant. When you are just draining the system, it is always a good idea to drain by removing the lower hose. This is because sometimes the drain valve does not fully close once opened after being closed for years.

Open the drain shown, and let it drain. Expect to get over a gallon.

2. Remove the recovery tank. You need to remove the little hose on the radiator first. In the second picture shown, push in the protrusion indicated with an arrow and remove the tank upward.

Once removed, it is a good time to clean the inside (and outside) of the bottle.

3. Remove the upper and lower radiator hoses. Do not cut them up yet. You will need them to cut the new hoses in proper length. Marking them as upper and lower before removing would help you remember where they go.


The lower hose will have a spring that helps retain the diameter of the hose. Make sure you put this back on the new one being installed.

4. Remove the radiator shroud. Location of the bolts are shown with arrows. The first picture is taken from driveside looking down where the coolant recovery bottle used to be. The second picture is taken right by the air box looking down.

FYI, here are some tool combination I used.

5. Once the shroud is loosened, leave it as it is shown below. You don't need to remove it completely from the vehicle for this job.

6. Remove 6 mounting bolts (3 on the driver side, 3 on the passenger side) as shown below. *Passenger side is not shown.

You don't need to completely remove the two bottom bolts on both sides of the radiator. Just loosen it up enough so you can pull the radiator up. This also facilitates the installation of the new radiator so you can do the job alone.

This what the 8 years old radiator looks like.

Here is a shot after the radiator is removed, make sure there is no foreign object between the condenser and the radiator.

7. Before installing the new radiator, if your radiator is like mine and have A/C plumbing right by the radiator, make sure you remove the tap (which is already removed in the picture. Location shown with arrow.)

8. Remember the 2 bolts that were only loosened enough to remove the old radiator?

Now you can lower the new radiator into these bolts and let it sit there while tightening other mounting bolts.

Radiator is finally mounted! Shiny black parts does make the engine bay look new.

9. Once the radiator is mounted, reattach the shroud.

10. Put in the spring like shape retainer into the lower hose. Move all the clamps on the hose.

11. Install the top hose by mock fitting first and then cut as indicated below. Make sure the cut is perpendicular to the length of the hose. *You can use grease or vasaline product. See note made by AZLugz below for further information.

For the top hose make sure you have enough clearance between the A/C compressor pulley and the hose. If not, try rotating the hose at the fitting to gain some clearance.

This how much was cut from the hose I purchased.

12. The lower hose was a bit though to install compared the top hose; there is barely any space for you to maneuver your hand to attach the hose to the water pump.

I used vice grip to hold the clamp open and applied some grease on the exterior of the hose and on the water pump fitting.

The lower hose installed!

13. Reinstall the recovery bottle by aligning the tabs on the recovery bottle to holes on the shroud.

14. Reconnect the overflow hose.

15. Fill the radiator with coolant. You can mix your own coolant with distilled water or just pour in with 50/50 premixed coolant. Don't mix different colors of coolants as they can react with another.

16. I highly recommend you replacing the radiator cap with the new radiator. At around $5, you can even get an upgraded version of the radiator cap which has relief valve which you can open to release some pressure build up inside of a WARM radiator (NOT HOT). I am assuming this helps keep the engine bay clean if you work on your cooling system a lot.

I am not going to lecture on here but, cooling system works as a system. Each component has to do its part to function properly. The radiator cap helps maintain certain pressure inside of the radiator keeping the coolant from prematurely boiling over. The old radiator cap also has the stress mark permanently indented on the rubber seal plus the rubber hardens and the spring loses its tension over time.

17. Start your engine and check for any leaks. You might have to drive around a few days to completely eliminate all the air bubbles from the cooling system. I have heard stories where the air bubbles causing abnormally high operating temperature. If the engine was not overheating before and starting to overheat right after the install, make sure all the air bubbles are out of the system. Keep the overflow bottle at "Max" initially. It will start going down as the engine warms up and cools. Add the coolant to the recovery bottle and watch it for next few days and keep it leveled.

18. You are done!


I tried my best to document as much as possible along with pictures. I hope you find them useful. However, do use the information provided here "as-is". or the author does not warrant or assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, or process disclosed. Use the information at your own risk.

Last edited by on Fri Jan 04, 2008 5:27 pm; edited 3 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 8:16 pm    Post subject: radiator install Reply with quote


Joined: 11 Jun 2007
Posts: 15
Location: Oakland, CA

so do you notice a difference in temperature with a three-row? i recently had the great fortune of blowing up my radiator on the trail. it literally exploded. good times. i replaced it with a similar cheap aluminum/plastic radiator and drove back home expecting it to blow again. needless to say i am in the market for a new all metal replacement and i am wondering how happy you are with yours. thanks. -sv
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Site Founder
Site Founder

Joined: 09 Apr 2006
Posts: 1769

It worked fine but recently when the South East was going through drought with 100 degree weather, my TJ was hitting 215 degree on the highway with A/C on. It is hotter than I would like it to run. So I have changed the radiator cap because I didn't after the replacement.

I was able to tell significant difference in the spring tension between the old and the new, but as my luck would have it, it never hit 100s or upper 90s again so the Jeep ran 210 or below the whole time ever since.

If I were to do it again, I wouldn't buy 3 row. I would buy 2 row or 1 row all steel. I heard people just going with the stock Chrysler radiator as they are not that much more expensive compared to the aftermarket one.

One thing I would like to warn the potential buyers is that, don't get lured into buying the radiator because they offer "life time" warranty. You will have a heck of a time convincing them over the phone that the radiator has a problem. I tried.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2007 11:47 am    Post subject: good times Reply with quote


Joined: 11 Jun 2007
Posts: 15
Location: Oakland, CA

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2007 9:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Site Founder
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Joined: 09 Apr 2006
Posts: 1769

Wow. I guess it exploded? Did you find any other problems that might have caused it to happen?
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 1:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


Joined: 11 Jun 2007
Posts: 15
Location: Oakland, CA

I'm fairly sure it was caused by a combination of high rpm's, slow speed, and mud coating the radiator. My radiator fluid was also on the watery side. A bunch of factors that all cause your engine to run hot. Bad luck or timing I guess... It was a 7 year old radiator.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


Joined: 22 Oct 2007
Posts: 99
Location: Mesa, Arizona

I just read thru the write up again and noticed something I didn't notice before....not wrong but a suggestion. (Awesome writeup BTW)

You suggest using vasaline or greese to lube the radiator hose to make it go on easier. first, greese will degrade the rubber, most oil based products will and should not be used but also, it will stay "slippery" and the hose can come off as easily as it went on, making you a lot more reliant on the clamp than a combination of the clamp and the rubber to metal contact as it should be. Also, the oil based products are not water soluable so will not wash off.

The way around this problem and with most rubber "greesing" issues is dishwashing liquid. It is a great short tem lubricant for rubber products and is is water soluable so it washes back out to allow the metal/rubber contact friction. This also works great when installing bushings on suspension and shocks. I keep a bottle of Dawn dishwashing liquid in the garage for this purpose, I use Dawn because I have found it to do the best at cleaning greese off my hands also.

Hope it helps guys!!
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 5:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Site Founder
Site Founder

Joined: 09 Apr 2006
Posts: 1769

Thanks for proofing reading. I need more proof readers like you! :)

"Rubber" hose enforced with many internals like steel enforcement with some brands, a little bit of grease to help sliding in is not an issue you shouldn't lose any sleep over. Manufacturers know there are potential exposure to grease and oil inside of the engine bay.

"Rubber hoses" we call are not simply rubber hoses that we know. They have more chemistry involved than you think.

When rubber is dipped into oil or grease with certain composition for prolonged period might be an issue because there is constant supply of oil that can deteriorate the hose and keep doing it. Little bit of grease may do little damage but it is unlikely that it will keep eating the rubber till it becomes a problem.

It won't slip off on its own. For one thing the rubber hose will stretch to slip over the radiator plumbing which has a groove so that slipping off won't easily occur when clamps are used. All of the family vehicles have been done this way that none of them showed problems including 13 year old minivan.

Grease will help the take down years down the road and helps from parts corroding over.

If not using grease helps you sleep better, by all means!! Do it!

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