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2002 chevy trailblazer_ls
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This was not a pleasant or easy job to do and may take 3-4 hours to accomplish.

Here is a good similar post on the replacement for an Olds Bravada.
http://forums.trailvoy.com/showthread.php?t=56051

Here is a good article on removing the fan shroud.

How to replace the radiator on a 2002 Chevrolet Trailbalzer

1. unbolt the fan from the water pump. Use a 12" crescent and a screwdriver to wedge between the pulley bolts to keep it from turning. As an option there is a tool available at AutoZone.
2. Remove the front grill and fascia.
3. Remove the plastic trim along the top of the radiator.
4. Remove the diagonal brace that goes over the battery. Disconnect the fan clutch wiring connector.
5. Remove the upper cross member across the top of the radiator.
6. Remove the one bolt behind the middle grill that secure the upper radiator mount.
7. Remove the radiator hoses and transmission line. Spend some time to plug the lines from leaking.
8. Remove the fan shroud bolts and the two upper condenser bolts.
9. Pull the fan shroud out. There is not much room. Just move it around and to your right.
10. Pull up on the condenser to disengage the mounts that are on at the bottom of the radiator. The condenser can remain in the vehicle.
11. Pull the radiator up and out. Again it is tight.

When installing:

1. Note the two posts on the bottom of the radiator. They need to be seated in the rubber mounts. Look underneath the vehicle to make sure they are in place after installation.
2. Make sure the condenser is secure in the mounts at the bottom of the radiator. I had to take place a block of wood on the top of the condenser and give it a little blow from my hand to seat it in place.

I hope this helps.

Let me know if I left a step out.
 

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2002 olds bravada
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39 Posts
radiator replacement

Isn't there an easier way to replace the radiator? There's the way the repair manuals say and then there's the mechanics way. Any links to threads that assist?
 

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2006 chevy trailblazer_ss_lt
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this is the easier way. the chiltons manual says to remove the condenser, but it is not necessary.
 

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2002 gmc envoy_sle
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More ideas

In addition to the great instructions here, just a few thoughts after I replaced my 2002 Envoy’s radiator.

1) I’ll second the idea of propping open the hood. I used 3/4 pvc propped beside the hood’s hook to a towel behind the battery. If you try to use the truck’s hood brace, it’ll be in the way.
2) after you remove the upper plastic over the radiator, use a marker to circle the position of the screws (bolts) you’ll be removing from the plastic below. Also mark the position of the metal cross member with a “+”.
3) Loosen the screws (bolts) on all the plastic that stays attached during the job so it’ll flex a bit.
4) Be very aware if your replacement radiator comes with new fittings for the trans lines. I needed to remove the fittings from the ends of the lines by removing the wire “C” clip (below the plastic cover). My replacement’s box was open and was missing the fittings. I had to go get them from the place I bought it. Then one of the fittings fit either line and the other wouldn’t fit either line. They ended up giving me a different radiator with the fittings already in place with LocTite thread locker.
5) To get the 1.5 inch bolt off, I found a video on the internet showing a guy who got a longer bolt (metric 8x1.25 ?) to replace 1 of the 4 bolts on the pulley. He then attached a chain to the pulley and ran it to a strong “L” angle he’d attached to the bracket above the alternator. The L angle allowed the chain to be about an inch out from the engine bracket making the chain a straighter shot. The chain prevented the pulley from turning as he used a 12-15 inch crescent (or 1.5 inch open end?) to loosen the fan nut (ccw as seen from the front looking rear).

6) My serpentine belt looked about half way through it’s life, so I replaced it. It will never be easier than when the fan & shroud are out.

7) I had to alter the lower plastic mounts on the condenser. Mine had an oval hole that probably easily slipped onto the radiator’s lower clip at the factory. It came apart easily enough, but I couldn’t see any way to safely flex all the parts to get that oval hole back into the clip. If I just set the condenser in place as it was (not going through the oval) it sat too high. I needed to remove the bottom of the oval at a slight angle outward. I used a box knife blade mounted securely in vise grips, then heated it with a torch. Then I melted away (cut) the bottom of the oval at a slight outward angle (on each side of the oval). That made it easy to slip the lower condenser mount into the radiator clip.

8) I attached the fan/shroud assembly to the new radiator before putting it back in.

9) My replacement radiator was about 1/8 inch shorter than the OEM. I had to use some flat rubber below the upper mount. If I hadn’t, it would have been loose. I had to experiment with the upper metal crossmember & mount to see what thickness I needed. I want it snug, but not under a lot of pressure when the mount is tightened down by the crossmember.
 

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2002 chevy trailblazer_lt
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9) My replacement radiator was about 1/8 inch shorter than the OEM. I had to use some flat rubber below the upper mount. If I hadn’t, it would have been loose. I had to experiment with the upper metal crossmember & mount to see what thickness I needed. I want it snug, but not under a lot of pressure when the mount is tightened down by the crossmember.
Thanks for this comment. I pulled a used one from a 2006 Trailblazer to put in my 2002. The upper mount is not holding it securely, especially given that any movement can cause the fan to hit the shroud. I had been contemplating some ideas, including the one above. I am thinking about making a cardboard frame that is larger than the upper mount and filling it with expand-foam. One it hardens, remove the cardboard and add a little black spray paint. That foam would hold it, but not hold it tight and make it fairly simple to remove afterwards.

Is your method holding up? Anything you would recommend to someone who has the top mount barely touching in one spot (front) and loose on the top of the radiator?
 

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2002 gmc envoy_sle
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I used thin flexible sheet gasket material. I think I got it at Ace Hardware's plumbing isle. It's thin enough to allow easy folding over itself so I could double or triple the thickness. I think mine ended up triple thick. I've had it off since and it's staying in its molded shape. That tells me it gets really hot.
My guess would be that expando foam would not stand up well over time/temperature/vibration. If you have an existing upper mount, like mine, of hard rubber, I'd build up under that with the sheet gasket material. Remember it can't compress/stress the radiator, just contact/hold it from being loose.
 

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2002 chevy trailblazer_lt
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First, thanks for the feedback.

I've had it off since and it's staying in its molded shape. That tells me it gets really hot.
The thermostat opens at 190 degrees and then the fluid is allowed to go to the radiator. It goes across the top and down. So, it is is contact with "plastic" that is in contact with 190+ degree fluid. Whatever is put it should be rated to 250 degrees, in my opinion.
 

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2002 chevy trailblazer_lt
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?

What are some of you using to plug the tranny cooler lines when you remove them from the radiator? It would be nice if there were nice rubber plugs included with the replacement radiator. I'll be tackling this PITA when I get back from spring break.
 

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I didn't think that too much would run out if the vehicle was off. I will probably try to plug it some just so it isn't dripping in my face while I remove the radiator. Just looking at it, seems that it is very tightly packed in there. Probably spend more time just looking for the way to remove it carefully so I know the path to put the new one back in without damaging it. I spent a week changing plugs, filters, fluids, alternator, belt, tensioner, and the night before we were to leave the radiator was dripping on the floor. I didn't have the time to check it out real well, still hoping for a lower hose. I don't usually have that kind of luck though.
 

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2002 chevy trailblazer_lt
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Jack the vehicle up. You will need to. It shouldn't drip on your face. It will drip on the floor or in a pan though.

Radiator goes up and out. There is no use looking at it closely when pulling it out. You just have to go for it. It is very tight. Putting it back in is more challenging.

I put on a used radiator. These aluminum things generally do not go bad unless they are hit by a rock (or front end collision). Corrosion is not really an issue. Old hoses do go bad, but I have never had one leak until I loosened it from the OEM install. Check your tranny color to make certain it is not milky (sign that radiator problem is causing bigger problems) and the radiator fluid for color (siphon a little out and put it in a clear glass). Look carefully at the water pump. In my experience, most radiator fluid leaks are from the pump going bad and it comes out the weep hole. In all honesty, I would just replace the pump if you are pulling the radiator out, because it probably has not been done for over 50K miles, it will be a piece of cake, and it only costs about $30.
 

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Sound advice on the pump. I just did the double drain on the tranny and changed the filter. Old fluid looked fine. Anti-freeze was dripping off the bottom radiator tank, more concentrated directly behind the lower hose. I didn't have more time to check it out. I had to get the D-max ready for the trip and move everything we packed from the TB to the truck.
 

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2005 chevy trailblazer_ls_ext
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This write up was AWESOME. It helped me get the radiator out. I was at a lose as to how it was supposed to come out. I logged in and read this write up and then back out to finish the job. Made things so much easier. The job is not done. Replaced the radiator, water pump, tensioner pulley and idler pulley on my wifes trailblazer. Not it sounds much quieter. She's going to love it. :)

Thanks for this fantastic web site.
 

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Replaced Radiator in 02 TB crack in top plastic tank

My radiator had a hairline crack in the top plastic tank near the fill neck. It ran about 4 inches across the top (left to right) and oozed fluid when cold. It tended to seal up a bit under pressure but didn't want to trust for long as the structure was compromised. Never had to add coolant so the loss was minimal or I simply got lucky and caught it early. Occasionally I did notice that distinct coolant smell but never saw drippings/puddles.

I did consider letting a local shop perform the radiator replacement but figured to be cost prohibitive vs. street value of a 2002. I was right. Believe it or not of the 3 quotes I received the dealer was NOT the highest. The quotes ranged from ~ $750 to $1,100 + tax for the radiator and replacing both hoses (originals still in place). Needless to say I decided to pay myself to do the work.
Radiator Ready Rad 2458C $138 + upper/lower Delco hoses total for all was under $200 incl tax. Luckily I had another vehicle to use so did not have to be in a hurry.

BTW The replacement RAD turned out to be exact match in all measurements and came with tranny line screw adaptors + new spring clips. Many have claimed they had issues with aftermarket Rads requiring some creative shipping to keep from being too loose in the mounts. I did not have that problem.

In the past the Fan Clutch and water pump had been replaced. Fan clutch under OE warranty as that was a recall need that GM never made :nono:
So I didn't plan to do those but would recommend it if yours are of considerable age.. ( will never be easier to get to.).


The Job:... well it is some work but it is doable. Considering this is 14+ years old with 167k miles I took extra care in not disturbing parts that didn't need to be messed with (i.e. the HVAC system) which was working fine.

Standard instructions as posted on Page 1, however I did try a short-cut from a bad YouTube video that claimed you can get the rad out without removing the fan clutch and shroud. ahhh well that was a wasted 2+ hours trying and ended up removing the shroud. Maybe it is possible but the attempt was putting too much strain on the A/C condenser and just didn't leave enough wiggle room.

Removing the fan clutch (big nut 38mm I think) didn't go simply as it was too tight to remove without a helper tool. Wedging across the water pump bolts didn't work. Off to AZ for their water pump holder tool. That did work but WARNING it doesn't hold onto the bolts really well, so expect to trial and error and some slipping off before you get it right. You could loosen the 2 appropriate w-pump bolts and aid the tools grip. Some claimed an 800lb gorilla tighten theirs.. I think mine was installed with the Daddy of that same gorilla and it took my largest crescent wrench and all the grunt I had to break that nut loose. I was so worried I was turning the wrong way but so many example videos etc I felt right. Beware You may loose some skin in the process and can easily break other items if not careful with your effort. A slightly longer wrench that gets above the fan and shroud would make it safer and provide more leverage. Ok.. really it isn't that bad once the nut is loose. The space gained by removing these parts certainly made the few minutes worth while.



Transmission lines.. Take your Time.. be gentle.. the little clips do come out pretty easy but it might take a min to find the right angle and spot to get ahold of them Wiggle one side out then the other and don't let it spring across the driveway. Good news.. New Radiator had the trans line adaptors and 2 new clips. Trans Fluid.. I never did get a good seal trying to plug the lines.. Even tried a couple nitrile gloves and tied around but they eventually filled up and oozed around the edges..

Radiator was easy to wiggle free.. again very careful with the A/C condenser lines and the clip at the bottom of the RAD where the condenser clips into RAD. I did use a couple zip ties to hold the condenser after removing the to small bolts that attach condenser to the radiator (top of rad)


Old Rad out .. new one prepped by gently tightening the 2 trans adaptor fittings (don't want to strip these puppies). Stripping must be common because the Rad box and instructions repeated the 'warranty voided if stripped" so many must have done so in the past.

set new Rad into place and worked the condenser bottom over the Rad clips. triple check alignment and that all looks in the right spot. The 2 Rad mounting supports do have a rubber insert so be sure to have those in place as they may have stuck to the old radiator.


Shroud + fan&clutch back in.. careful here not to damage your new Rad by allowing the fan to fall that direction. It went in with some careful wiggling with most important step being were the large clutch nut was in relation to the water pump bolt heads. just adjust from right to left and it will go into place. Make sure the shroud's two prongs on the bottom go back into their support brackets.
Tightening the nut back was some drama. I started hand turning and then removing several times. it just felt like it was not thread aligned though it would start threading just fine.. It just didn't feel right.
Trick was to make dang sure that the whole shroud assembly was squared up and start screwing the nut on while maintaining the position. I found that I was likely releasing support of the fan before the threads were well mated. Once square all felt better and can actually spin the fan to take up much of the threading needs.
Then the inner gorilla must come out. I tightened this nut with all I had as didn't want the fan going thru the new RAD. ( heard such stories). I revisited that nut 3-4 times Even a day later before returning the AZ tool I gave it another tight test.

That is really the hard part.. all downhill afterwards.just attaching and the 2 shroud upper bolts and condenser bolts ( left loose for now). The Radiator support (center of grill and top of rad) goes in and left all of these loose until I proved that the fan was clear and didn't hit the shroud while turning. All Good.

Finished tightening all bolts put the top Rad support in place connected hoses and tranny lines. Tranny lines.. make really sure you seated them completely else the clips will not go in and well.. a mess you will make. Slide the plastic clip retainers back into place .

Hook up Hoses.. I was planning to replace the bottom hose but just couldn't get to it with tools I had and needed and wanted to get on with the project.

Took almost full 2 gallons of coolant to fill rad and recovery tank ( I did suck out all the older coolant from the tank).

Made sure all was wiped clean as any drips would be easily detectable.

Rad refill went fine though I had to put the cap back on to prevent coolant from being pushed out during the first thermostat open cycle. Let it run and cool.. removed cap and topped off as it did pull some but not all from the reservoir.

2nd day and so far no drips. I do need to add maybe a pint of tranny fluid as the level dropped below the full HOT mark.

If I had to do the job again and took out the time running around for tools, supplies it is a 3-4 hour deal. Adding the lower radiator hose.. well that is not a quickie unless you have already cleared out other items . I did try to make room by removing the battery and carrier. It helped but still tight.. my guess is the driver side front wheel well is best option.

Figured I saved at least $500 to $800 by paying myself to do the work. Just don't allow frustration to build and cause an avoidable mistake do to lost patients. If time allows.. walk away and come back later. Somehow doing that seems to make it work ( sometimes anyway).
 

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2002 chevy trailblazer_lt_ext
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I was having trouble getting the fan off so I cut a notch in the lower part of the shroud to allow for the lower radiator fitting to pass by. There is not a lot of room to remove and install the new radiator with the shroud in the vehicle. As said above sometimes it is best to walk away when frustration is setting in and come back when things have calmed down a bit. The tool from AZ didn't help me at all.

I also replaced the radiator hoses. The top one is easy and so is the lower one at the radiator because of open access. I removed the battery, the horn, and the battery box to gain access. I had the left front wheel and splash guard out also due other work being done. I thought that helped too.

It took a lot longer than I planned on but I'm happy to be done.
 

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2004 chevy trailblazer_ls_ext
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Replaced the radiator in my son's 2004 TB weekend before last.
I did not remove the clutch fan.
The biggest issue was getting the water outlet on bottom of radiator past the fan shroud.
Other than that, not too bad of a job.

The bushings that the radiator rests on...and the locating pins fit in...were what I assumed as being shot-out...only hard plastic grommets left...no rubber or cushion of any kind.
Anyone have a part # for the replacement bushings?
 

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2004 chevy trailblazer_ls_ext
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2002 chevy trailblazer_ls
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Radiator Replacement

I know this a little late but I had to replace my radiator a few weeks back and I did it without removing the condesnor and fan/shroud. It takes a little bit of muscle and a little bit more time but it is possible!
 
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