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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
How to delete (remove) your oil cooler. (Skill Level: Easy Mod)
If you can change your oil on your own, you can probably do this. Maybe.

Test vehicle:
1997 GMC Safari SLE
RWD V6 4.3L Automatic
Note: This mod should not take any additional tools for the AWD models, but the space will be tighter to work in. Procedures should all be exactly the same.

Engines:
-Most 4.3 V6's and even some other GM models.

Pros/Cons:
There are a few reasons you may or may not want to do this mod. Most people are looking to do this mod because they are tired of the factory oil cooler lines leaking all the time, and they don't have a real need for the added cooling. There are other vehicles with this same engine that do not have this cooler from the factory- hence why everything is already setup on the engine to not use the cooler.

Pros:
-Less parts dealing with moving oil through the motor and especially considering these are external lines means increased reliability against losing oil and critically damaging the engine.
-If you have factory lines on your cooler, or even upgraded lines, and something goes out- you can do this mod in a pinch on the side of the road to fix your leak and get you home. Carry the list of tools in your tool bag with you! You will find the list further down.
-This solves an issue where the oil cooler portion of the radiator gets clogged and creates backpressure, giving repeated leaks even with newly replaced oem lines. (This is most likely why so many people have this repeated issue to begin with, it may not be the fitting designs fault like many suspect and in fact may be a fail safe for this situation- I would rather a leak there than something else blow out. :2:)
-No More leaky lines to worry about or waste money on. :wave:
-If your lines were leaky like mine were, you will see improved oil pressure.
-No extra parts are needed, just do the mod on your next oil change and it's free.

Cons:
-If you carry full loads or tow often removing the oil cooler may cause too much heat build up in the oil and break down which causes added engine wear.
-Some have noted that removing the oil cooler reduces miles per gallon. I have not noted enough of a difference personally (read: if any at all, still testing) to warrant the price of regular hose replacements along with extra oil purchased due to leaks.
-If you have a working non-leaky oil cooler and do this mod, you may see a slight decrease in oil pressure. I can't personally confirm this.
-GM put it on all the vans for a reason...

Our best conclusion for why it was put on is the fact that the motor is stuffed deep inside a dog house, and the vans were sold world wide in every climate imaginable and needed to be able to manage the heat differences. For the pacific north west where we spend 90% of our time I found it to be over-engineered, hurts reliability and doesn't add any real world performance gain (Engine temp, MPG, or otherwise). You should consider all the factors and decide for yourself what route you would like to go. Again I can't stress enough to carry this kit of tools and supplies with you if you do plan to keep the oil cooler. It may very well save you some day!

Let's Begin!

First we'll go over the list of tools and supplies you will need for this job:
-10mm Allen Wrench or Socket [Oil filter threaded tube]
-13mm Wrench or Socket [Hose attachment to side of block]
-15mm Wrench or Socket [Oil drain plug]
-40mm Torx Bit or Socket [Adapter internal mounting bolts]
-Socket/Bit Drivers and Extensions
-Oil Filter Removal Tool (or hands of steel and sand paper, one of the two. :rockon: )
-Knife to cut tubes (easier removal, I'll get the size of the hose fittings soon)
-5 qts of oil (Recommend full synthetic for better heat protection)
-Oil Filter (Recommend an extended size for easier install/removal and protection)
-Rags
-Oil Catch Pan (Not needed for rescue kit, it's already on the pavement.)

Step 1:
Prepare the vehicle securely on jack stands or a lift. You could do this job on your back if needed though. Put the oil catch pan under the location of the oil drain plug on the oil pan. Remove the oil filler cap under the hood to allow the oil to move more quickly through the system. Then after you are ready to get messy unbolt the drain plug and let the oil run out. Replace the drain plug after this so you can use the catch pan in the next step.

Step 2:
Place the catch pan under the oil filter and proceed to remove the old filter. If the filter is stubborn and your hands of steel and sand paper are just no match for that greasy old filter, break out the oil filter tool and get er' done. An old school trick in a pinch is to jab a screwdriver into the filter and turn it. Yes it makes a mess but you are probably past that point by now anyways. Tip the old filter into the catch pan to drain it all while you continue to catch the remaining oil coming out of the filter attachment area. Once most of it has stopped proceed to the next step. Don't remove the catch pan from this location yet.

Step 3:
Remove the bolt towards the front of the motor that holds the lines to the oil cooler attachment block. It is the 13mm one.
When you pull the lines off dip them down into your catch pan to drain the remaining oil left in them.
Once that is complete you can use the 10mm Allen wrench to remove the oil attachment tube in the center of the oil cooler attachment block. The allen key just slides right into the middle of the threaded post. Counter-clockwise to remove and it may be tight!

Ensure both of the bolts in this step are removed before continuing on to the next step, otherwise it will be much more difficult to get them off.

Step 4:
Remove the two 40mm Torx bolts that hold the oil cooler attachment block on to the engine block. The picture below is for reference, the cooler lines should be off at this point too as noted in Step 3.
Once these are removed, a quick jiggle should get the block to come free from the engine.

Step 5:
Thread the oil filter tube directly into the engine block by hand, short fat end in. Look to see if the paper gasket is inside first, remove it.
Tighten well with 10mm Allen key.
Clean off any gunk or debris from the block's oil filter mating surface. Then just lube the new oil filter seal and screw it on like normal!

Step 6:
Now that your filter is on you shouldn't have any drips coming from the hoses or your engine block/filter and can move on to removing the old cooler hoses. I just chose to cut mine at the rubber area because it was getting late. I will go back and remove the rest of the lines from the radiator later and add that to this How To. Don't forget to place your catch pan under where you cut the hoses! They will definitely leak some more out of them for a little bit.

Step 7:
This is very important! Fill your engine with new oil, preferably full synthetic to help with heat break down in the oil. It's a decent way to regain a little lost heat protection if you weren't running synthetic before. 5 quarts with the XL filter seemed to be just about perfect. It's easy to forget this step being so excited about fixing your leaky hose issue, and jumping in to start her up. Well, you certainly wouldn't have any more leaks! (You also wouldn't have a very happy motor lol).

Alright, that's it! It's pretty easy to do, requires minimal tools and mechanical ability or understanding. Hopefully this rests any questions you all may have about the process, or the pros and cons and real world results.

Pictures are coming, they just need to be edited and uploaded.
 

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great explanation!! I am going to leave mine when I do the sub frame swap out but want to have an after market cooler and a solid aluminum radiator not a plastic thing. I'm also going with electric fan assy and remove the heavy clutch and fan. I do a lot of towing at times here in the south.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Old Barney said:
great explanation!! I am going to leave mine when I do the sub frame swap out but want to have an after market cooler and a solid aluminum radiator not a plastic thing. I'm also going with electric fan assy and remove the heavy clutch and fan. I do a lot of towing at times here in the south.
Thanks!

Yeah I highly suggest that if you guys do keep an oil cooler, run an aftermarket one outside of the radiator. I would be afraid that just fixing the leaky fittings/hoses would cause too much pressure in the radiator, blow a hole, and then you would run into cross contamination issues and need a new radiator. That's why I don't think just upgrading the lines to custom fittings is a good idea. Do the whole thing. Definitely keep the cooler down in the south, esp with towing. :thumbup:

I too want an electric fan setup. I think the fuel savings are nice but for cooling the stock fan can't be beat very easily.
 

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Two things:
1) After a little bit of time, you can't go back into your post and edit it, so your initial post won't have pics. That's a problem for anyone coming to look for a DIY and if they don't see any pics they might not want to look further in the post.
2) That Astro profile sticker is ok, but only covers part of the vans. You need a 1st gen, both EXT & shorty versions.

It's great that you are doing how to threads, it encourages others to do the same as they find out what's involved and what to expect. Thumbs up.

-Andrew
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
icebrrg3rd said:
Two things:
1) After a little bit of time, you can't go back into your post and edit it, so your initial post won't have pics. That's a problem for anyone coming to look for a DIY and if they don't see any pics they might not want to look further in the post.
2) That Astro profile sticker is ok, but only covers part of the vans. You need a 1st gen, both EXT & shorty versions.

It's great that you are doing how to threads, it encourages others to do the same as they find out what's involved and what to expect. Thumbs up.

-Andrew
It was just a joke to copper as it's part of a sticker I'm making for him "Westfailia Towing"... You'll see soon enough.

The pics are coming guys, not to worry. :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Lumpy said:
Particularly in a "How To" post, where there's lots of pics, clicking on a bunch of tiny thumbnails in order to see the pic is very tiring for me. I have to remember what you said about the stuff in the pic, then view the pic, then if I want to review your description, de-enlarge the pic etc.

The pic of your sticker profile, whatever that's all about, is, on the other hand, easy to see, doesn't require me to click, doesn't grey out the text etc.

Lump
Also, most of those complaints I can't do much about. The site admin should be adjusting the default values and setting for gallery picture posts. Other forums gave more posting options that this one does not... Or at least I haven't found them.
 

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If you are doing it for the recognition, you might want to quit while you are ahead. If you are doing it for others to quietly reference when needed then you should be happy with your post(it's a good one). Most people that read your post won't even be members here and are unlikely to post a comment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
AstroWill said:
If you are doing it for the recognition, you might want to quit while you are ahead. If you are doing it for others to quietly reference when needed then you should be happy with your post(it's a good one). Most people that read your post won't even be members here and are unlikely to post a comment.
If people tell me it's good and want to discuss the content in the post then I'm happy and did my job. It's not for recognition its to help people and so far only one person actually indicated it was helpful... That's what it's all about.
 

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This might get deleted too, but I still think you guys did a fine job with your Van, Repairs/Mod, Write-up and Post.
Sorry things were taken the wrong way.

Mike
 

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I added a oil cooler. And the line wore through and leaked. Blew my engine. I took it back off. Hot oil is better than no oil.

My durango is leaking somewhere and I suspect it is the oil cooler lines. I got to get to finding that.
 

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There must be something inherently wrong about the design of our engines if all these oil coolers, OEM or aftermarket, are failing. Now the Durbango. What's the poop here? Do all oil coolers fail on all engines? We don't seem to hear about transmission oil coolers failing.

Maher, where did your engine wear through the hose? Is it at the cooler? At the sandwich? I wouldn't imagine that you did a poor job of routing the hoses in a bad spot. Or is that impossible to avoid?

Lump
 

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Durango was abused and never taken care of before I got it. Used as a snow vehicle. I suspect judging from the brake lines. Which rotted and were seeping right through the metal. I got most replaced already.

The oil line where it goes from the hard line the fitting where it becomes rubber. I think that joint is what is leaking. I just need new lines.

Our vans leak at the radiator fitting with age. And in a few threads at the block under the oil filter. Rubber rotting. It is something you just got to stay on top of.

My van had a aftermarket oil cooler. It had rubber high pressure lines with no metal line involved. So it was a big floppy affair from the filter to the radiator. Well just vibrating against the frame eventually wore a hole in it. Judging by the dragon a rubber line of that type should not ever touch anything. They are suspended in mid air by the metal lines. Needed for flexibility but cannot touch.

And that was impossible to do with the aftermarket one. Had I known I would have made brackets to encase them with rubber inserts. Or bought lines with the metal sleeve around it used in racing for fuel and various things. But they said it would work and was fine in the instructions. I was a newby and bit hook line and sinker.
 

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Seems to me an oil cooler would be a pretty important item. Maybe not for people in the arctic, but anywhere it gets hot, I'd think it is.

I think instead of just wholesale deleting them, we'd be much better served by installing or modifying them the RIGHT way to avoid whatever is making them fail. Cover them with loom. Braided steel lines. Brackets. Etc.

Adding one is somewhere on my list of things to do.

Lump
 

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In hot areas they are amazing. Oil pressure don't drop on hot days. It cools the valvetrain. They got their points for sure. I got a factory adapter now with metal lines. I been scavenging for the right parts. I will put it back on there.

I am a believer in them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The only conclusion we could find for why the coolers blow lines is because of dirty oil clogging the cooler and creating high pressure on the fittings (the weakest link).

This would indicate why some will see leaky lines time after time only a month after replacing them.

When people replace the lines with upgraded ones that have better fittings, they seemed to come back reporting the radiator cross contaminated with the oil cooler from a hole forming between the two. (The new weakest link.)

If your in the North its not a big deal to remove it, everything has been really solid from MPG, oil pressure (even after long 1hr+ drives), engine temps.

If you are in the South do an aftermarket cooler so you can keep a better eye on it, and not end up replacing the whole radiator too!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
In a couple of weeks we will be heading out east where it's warmer in the Washington desert (yes, its true were not all trees here! Lol).

That should be a good test to see how it responds to added heat and I will report back!
 

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Hi, you mentioned using a longer filter, I have a fram 3980. Do you have a stock number for the longer one? I have an old 2 qt monster from my mid 80's burb, too bad it wouldn't fit! Thanks for the post, finally found a shop who would listen and not consider me an alien when I asked them to take the adapter off! I also showed them this posting, and they were impressed.
 

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Yay, finally got the leaking lines and adapter off today and everything looks good! My oil pressure went up about 10 psi and no more valve train rattle to boot! Hats off to Lengles garage on k hwy and County Line rd. in St Joe Mo. area!
 
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