Upgrading to an Aluminum Radiator
with Bill Johnston
In most cases, the Samurai has an adequate cooling system for the small engine it has to handle. But we aren't always satisfied to leave the engine compartment alone when it comes time to upgrade. Going to a larger engine, or even kicking up the ponies in the stock engine can tax the cooling system, not to mention hitting a slow trail in the desert southwest on a hot summer day... Now there is a bolt-in aluminum replacement that you can install without the headache.
|As you can see in the pictures, the unit that Petroworks provided is built to bolt directly into place without fabricating any brackets. Suzuki made two different radiators for the Samurai. In 1988, many changes happened to the vehicle, and one of the was adding an extra inch of depth to the radiator. This radiator upgrade was developed using the bracket dimensions for the early model because there were more of them on the road. You can tell right away if it will fit. Tap the tank (top section) and if it is brass you are golden, if it is plastic you will have to make the adjustments mentioned below.|
|The first thing you notice is the size of the upper and lower water tanks, they are huge! This gives a full 30% more coolant capacity. But, the radiator still fits under the hood of a stock Samurai without any changes at all. The side brackets on the new unit are welded in place, so you don't need to use the old ones.|
|The lower tank is also boxed to provide more capacity. The drain valve is in the same location as the stock unit. you can also see where they included the mounting boss for the fan shroud. If you have an early model (up to 87), the fan shroud will fit perfectly. If you only have a late model fan shroud it can be 'adjusted' to fit with only a little effort.|
|First things first... pulling the stock unit starts with draining the radiator and disconnecting the upper hose. The drain plug can be accessed easier if you remove the splash pan that sits under the fan. You can drop it out by removing the two screws at the ends of the splash pan and unhooking the brake line retainer clip from underneath.|
|Next comes the fan shroud. It is bolted to the radiator with four 10mm bolts. Don't try to remove the shroud from the engine yet, the fan will be in the way.|
|The fan is held to the water pump studs with four 10mm nuts. Remove them, but be careful that you don't lose them. It is also easier if you take off the tension on the pulley by loosening the fan belt. You do that by loosening the alternator bolts and sliding it toward the engine.|
|Now you can tilt the fan shroud toward the engine and slide the fan out. This gives you plenty of room to get the fan shroud out.|
|Now there is enough room to disconnect the lower radiator hose. Then the overflow bottle gets disconnected. Set the bottle to the side for now and it will give you a bit more room to remove the radiator bolts.|
|You are down to the last four bolts now. The top bolts are easy to get to, but the bottom bolts have special access holes for removal. The passenger side lower bolt can be accessed from the side through an opening in the bracket.|
driver side lower bolt can be accessed from the front after you move the
grill out of the way.
Then the radiator can be removed from the top.
|Next, we attach the fan shroud to the radiator to make sure it fits. The top is a perfect fit for any year Samurai (86-95).|
|This shroud is from our 88.5 Samurai. As you can see it is made for the longer late model radiator. If you can find an early model shroud it will fit easily. If not, you may be able to get one from Petroworks when you order your radiator. They have a large stock of parts and you may get lucky. Otherwise, you can make the longer shroud fit with a little trimming.|
|As you can see, we trimmed the lower edge and made cutouts for the lower hose and drain outlet. You will also have to make a small (1/4") notch in the edge of the shroud for the lower shroud bolts. The difference is about an inch, but fit it and mark it before cutting.|
|If you have a late model Samurai, you will also have to shorten the lower radiator hose. without shortening the hose, it will kink and slow down the coolant flow. Just remove the hose, trim an inch from the vertical section and clamp it back in place.|
|We then lower the new radiator into place and bolt it in. The photo on the right shows the wrench going through the access slot on the passengers side for the lower bolt. Then when you attach the lower hose, everything lines up perfectly.|
|The new radiator comes with plenty of hose to reach the overflow bottle. Put the bottle back in place, measure the length needed and trim to fit. It's a perfect fit and it looks like it belongs there.|
|The fan shroud, fan and fan nuts are installed in reverse order from above. If you try to install the fan before sliding the shroud in place you will never get the shroud in there, so pay attention to the order. Don't forget to tighten up the fan belt again, and tighten down the bolts on the alternator. Then just fill the new aluminum radiator with a 50/50 water coolant mix.|
|The new radiator looks in place. It looks much more massive than the stock radiator, but be assured that it won't touch the hood when you drop it into place. Also be assured that this replacement doesn't just look good. This radiator is all aluminum. Aluminum is far more efficient at dissipating heat then the stock model that is made from copper (fins) and brass (tanks). With much more coolant to flow it will keep the temps down when it really needs it.|
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