Jan 7, 2012

Truck Repairs, again

Last time I had the truck in for an oil change, the tech mentioned that my radiator was low. I'd occasionally gotten a small sniff of hot antifreeze, but never noticed anything obvious. I topped off the radiator, and shortly thereafter noticed a small drip of antifreeze under the truck. Not consistent, not huge, just enough to be terribly annoying. I was adding about a gallon every two weeks. I did check the hoses and connections, and those were all tight.

I finally crawled under the truck and pulled the skid plate (which involved removing the front air dam as well) so I could try to track down the leak. "Somewhere on the radiator" is the best I could come up with. I priced out radiators from the local parts shops and OEM. $250-300 for aftermarket and over $400 for OEM. Ouch.

I dropped a note on ClubFrontier.org looking for advice and someone suggested checking RadiatorBarn.com ... so I did. A lifetime-warranty aftermarket radiator was shortly on its way to my door for about $120. Including shipping. Awesome customer service from those folks and I'd gladly recommend them.

It arrived towards the end of hunting season, and was shuffled to the back of the to-do list. Then the weather got cold and snotty. I have a garage so I can at least be dry while working, but above freezing sounded good too. In the meantime I read what I could find, watched videos on YouTube, and re-read the appropriate sections of the Hayne's manual.

Yesterday afternoon the weather was fine (High 40s and sunny. Sold.) so I decided to jump in. I dragged my tools out to the garage, put the truck up on ramps, and started taking things apart.

Let me tell you this now: the videos on YouTube and the Hayne's book are misleading. And the factory tech manual, which I had the correct chapter of, is written in Engrish and uses circular references. "Section 2: To remove X, see Section 4." *flipflipflip* "Section 4: To remove Y, first remove X." ... and "With lifting and pulling radiator in a rear direction, disassemble lower mount from radiator core support center." (That second one's a verbatim copy/paste, btw.)

That turned into the biggest clusterfuck of a repair project I have experienced in a very long time.

Here's how it went:
- remove the air dam and skid foil
- drain the old radiator
- disconnect the hoses
- remove the top clips on the radiator
- remove the bolts connecting the condenser to the radiator
- remove the bottom bolts on the radiator
- remove the bolts holding the fan shroud on the radiator

At that point it should have been a lift-out, drop-in, reconnect, and done. At least according to everything I read and saw. They all lied to me.

I can't even begin to describe all the steps, but it was resolved by:
- removing the air filter box
- removing the intake tube (clean side of the filter)
- removing the lower fan shroud
- removing the condenser fan
- removing the engine fan blade
- removing the top fan shroud (Yes, AFTER removing both fans inside it. Fun trick and it shredded my arm.)
- wiggling the radiator until it came out
- wiggling the radiator back in
- multiple bouts of swearing at the A/C condenser while trying to line it back up
- get condenser back in, and lose lineup of the radiator in the meantime
- rinse, repeat
- install bolts for radiator to support bracket and condenser to radiator
- put upper fan shroud in place
- reinstall engine fan - blind lining up four bolts
- reinstall condenser fan
- bolt in shroud
- reinstall lower shrow
- reattach top clips, grill clips
- reinstall intake tube
- reinstall air filter box

Make sure there's no leftover screws... nope.
- reconnect upper and lower hoses
- fill
- turn on and run to temp

In all, with a break mid-afternoon for me to swear at things for a while and calm down playing video games, I spent SEVEN HOURS working on this project.

If I ever have to do it again I will be asking a garage what their quote is. A couple hours of shop labor may well be worth the money to NOT do it myself. I managed not to throw tools, break down in tears, or simply light the truck on fire and get something new ... barely.

1 comment:

Old NFO said...

Good on ya for NOT giving up, and radiators ARE (and have always been) a PITA...