Advice Needed On Aluminum Radiator/T Stat/Rad Cap/Hoses

Advice Needed On Aluminum Radiator/T Stat/Rad Cap/Hoses

Postby ri$e*above [OP] » July 28th 2020, 4:36pm

I have a 2002 Safari AWD with 58k miles, and I'm looking to replace my factory radiator with an aluminum one. There's a lot of different ones on ebay. Does anybody have any experience and/or recommendations on good brands/sellers? Do the aluminium radiators usually have the mounting tabs for the AC condenser? I'm also looking to replace my thermostat, radiator cap and lower and upper radiator hoses. Am I best sticking with AC Delco for those? Does the thermostat have just 1 gasket that I need to replace? Anything else I should replace at the same time as doing all of this?

Are chemical flush coolant cleaners a good idea, if so, should I flush the cooling system with a chemical cleaner before or after I install the new parts? Any recommendations on how to get the best flush?

Cheers
CURRENT: 2002 GMC SAFARI AWD SLE 'GOLD DIGGER'. 5 INCH LIFT. G80. GT4.
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Re: Advice Needed On Aluminum Radiator/T Stat/Rad Cap/Hoses

Postby Mmusicman » July 29th 2020, 12:46am

You should know your stock radiator is actually aluminum already... the tanks are plastic.

Ebay does have a HUGE selection... plenty of cheap stock models ($50-60).
I've bought them and my experience was fine.
The stock radiator is "1 row" 5/8 thick core.
Barely adequate for general use.

Ebay also sells some real nice custom built 3-row 2" core all-aluminum heavy-duty radiators, that some here have had great success with. They work quite well. They are also direct drop-in replacements (with the side tabs and oil coolers). I would recommend going this route, unless your on a tighter budget. They probably cool 2x as well.. but cost 3x the price. Worth it in my opinion.

Does your van use Dexcool? It's orange, and says so (on the cap I think) or somewhere under the hood. You MUST NOT mix coolant types, but you can flush it completely and switch to standard green coolant. You would need to be very thorough however, as these two different types don't mix well and create sludge that will block your radiator.

Regarding flush.. if your fluid looks GREAT.. then it's probably not necessary. But chemical flush isn't expensive and probably worth doing regardless. You also need to completely flush out the flush when done. Run lots of water though.

Sidenote: the "best value" for buying coolant is to buy the concentrate, not the pre-mix. But you'll need to mix it 50/50 with water. Use "distilled water"... it's really cheap, you can buy it at Walmart. You'll need a few gallons.

This is a good time to change hoses and t-stat. Changing parts that aren't bad isn't necessary.. but much easier to do when the system is already drained and everything is apart. It's up to you.

Replace the cap! They're cheap.. and they have a very important job.
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Re: Advice Needed On Aluminum Radiator/T Stat/Rad Cap/Hoses

Postby ri$e*above [OP] » July 29th 2020, 3:46pm

Mmusicman wrote:You should know your stock radiator is actually aluminum already... the tanks are plastic.

Ebay does have a HUGE selection... plenty of cheap stock models ($50-60).
I've bought them and my experience was fine.
The stock radiator is "1 row" 5/8 thick core.
Barely adequate for general use.

Ebay also sells some real nice custom built 3-row 2" core all-aluminum heavy-duty radiators, that some here have had great success with. They work quite well. They are also direct drop-in replacements (with the side tabs and oil coolers). I would recommend going this route, unless your on a tighter budget. They probably cool 2x as well.. but cost 3x the price. Worth it in my opinion.

Does your van use Dexcool? It's orange, and says so (on the cap I think) or somewhere under the hood. You MUST NOT mix coolant types, but you can flush it completely and switch to standard green coolant. You would need to be very thorough however, as these two different types don't mix well and create sludge that will block your radiator.

Regarding flush.. if your fluid looks GREAT.. then it's probably not necessary. But chemical flush isn't expensive and probably worth doing regardless. You also need to completely flush out the flush when done. Run lots of water though.

Sidenote: the "best value" for buying coolant is to buy the concentrate, not the pre-mix. But you'll need to mix it 50/50 with water. Use "distilled water"... it's really cheap, you can buy it at Walmart. You'll need a few gallons.

This is a good time to change hoses and t-stat. Changing parts that aren't bad isn't necessary.. but much easier to do when the system is already drained and everything is apart. It's up to you.

Replace the cap! They're cheap.. and they have a very important job.


Thanks for the detailed reply Mmusicman :thumbup:

I was thinking of putting out the cash for one of the 3 row radiators on ebay. With some of them you get the oil/trans cooler fittings, drain plug and cap. I'm deleting my oil cooler, so won't need to worry about the oil cooler hook ups.

The Dexcool on my van must of been changed over at some point, as there was green in there when i bought it. I might do the chemical flush just in case it wasn't all drained out previously. What coolant would you say is best to use...IAT or HOAT? I'm not going with Dexcool. Wouldn't a universal HOAT be the best option so it doesn't cause a mess with any of the coolant I'm unable to drain? To drain, would I be good just lifting the front up a little, draining from the radiator plug underneath the passenger side and running the heat full blast?

Cheers :thumbup:
CURRENT: 2002 GMC SAFARI AWD SLE 'GOLD DIGGER'. 5 INCH LIFT. G80. GT4.
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