Tag Archives: diy

Removing Transmission Oil Lines from a Radiator

Removing Transmission Lines on Your Car Radiator

So you thought it would be easy removing the transmission oil lines to change your leaking radiator and save a few dollars! Well, most of the time it is a straight forward job installing a replacement radiator. But at times it can be your worse nightmare.

If you are not sure what type of transmission oil line fittings you have you should ask someone and look up your vehicle online. You need to ask specifically about your vehicle. Your oil lines may be easy to remove but many or not and if yours is one of the hard ones it is no joke. Some of the hardest radiator jobs we did were because of transmission oil lines.

I would like to share some comments from some who have attempted to replace their own radiator. Most DIY people think that transmission lines are simple little lines that should take you about a minute to remove. Most of the time they are, but then there is the following.

Some Comments Regarding Removing Transmission Oil Lines

  • I did not have enough clearance.
  • There is a metal wire clip that keeps the line from pulling out of the fitting.
  • Pull the line out with a little twisting and pulling.
  • I think you need a special tool to unlock the tube from the fitting.
  • I damaged the tube and fitting on the transmission line.
  • It’s a coupling fitting like a quick-disconnect.
  • it is a one-way fitting.
  • I had the wrong replacement radiator, and the trans lines won’t fit.
  • To release the fitting, you need a 3/8 inch line removal tool.
  • Use the 3/8″ tool designed for Chrysler, not Ford.
  • The tool goes to the right of that rusty old fitting.
  • Press the tool onto the fitting to release the fingers.
  • I sent the radiator to the shop.
  • I need a quick release coupler.
  • I have been tapping on it with a small hammer.
  • I cannot get it to budge, I just sprayed some PB blaster on it.
  • There is a spinner nut attached to the radiator itself.
  • To remove the lines, you might have to twist and turn it a little.
  • Pull the tool and hose at the same time.
  • Can I just cut the line?
  • Is this part of the radiator?
  • It seems to have a spring clip.
  • I needed a 3/8 spring clip tool and had broken the clip off, lost somewhere.
  • I think I will cut the trans line and deal with it later.
  • I need better access.
  • I now need to replace the O-rings with that fitting, and that was not fun at all.
  • It is no picnic to get the fitting to let go.
  • I need a bigger hammer.

Sounds like fun doesn’t it? On a final note, please know that most of the time it is not hard to replace a radiator. The hard ones are really hard and that is what you are reading about above. If you’re not sure, check first. Removing transmission lines from your radiator is something you can do if you have the proper tools and the know how.

Tools Needed to Test and Repair a Radiator

mechanic on creeper

Many ambitious car owners have decided to forego paying labor to an auto mechanic, and take on radiator repairs themselves. This is absolutely a doable task, and can be done with minimal tools and a little bit of knowledge.

As with any auto repair, being prepared with the right tools goes a long way. What tools do you need to test and repair your radiator?

  • A variety of common mechanics tools are things most households already have, and may not need to be purchased. A flashlight or lamp will help you see inside your engine compartment easier, especially if there is a lack of natural light. Screwdrivers, wrenches, and pliers will help you remove parts if needed.
  • Safety gear is important, because of the possibility of  boiling hot coolant and other dangers. Gloves can help protect your hands from burns and safety goggles can protect your eyes from boiling water, or parts that may pop off as you are working with them. Learn more about radiator repair safety.
  • A diagram of your engine and radiator and how it connects to various hoses and mounting brackets can help you ensure everything is put back in its correct place, especially if parts need to be removed for repairs or replacements. Use your iPhone to take pictures if that helps, and make sure all fittings removed are kept in one spot.
  • A drain pan is necessary, as a radiator’s main component is liquid and it is toxic, so keep all pets away from it. Drain the coolant from your radiator completely or at least to below the area of the leak. It is especially important, that during any repair, there is no liquid touching the inside of the hole you are repairing.
  • A pressure tester is nice to have so you can test your repair and to be sure the radiator is no longer leaking. A radiator pressure tester can be purchased as a kit that fit most makes and models of vehicles. Testers can be expensive and if you skip testing the repair make sure you key an eye on the repair and your gauge.
  • Any replacement parts will need to be compatible with your vehicle. Replacing or repairing with inappropriate parts can seriously damage your engine or causing problems. Make sure you get the right part for your vehicle and having the VIN number is a good idea when going to the part store.

By arming yourself with the correct tools and following directions, you should be able to safely perform a proper radiator repair.

Safety Tips for Working on Car and Truck Radiators

picture of wrench

Repairing your vehicle’s damaged or broken radiator on your own can be a great way to save the labor costs that a mechanic would charge. More important than saving costs, however, is your safety. Let’s explore some safety tips for working on car and truck radiators.

First and foremost, it is essential to know your limits. If you’ve never worked on cars a day in your life, and don’t know anything about the mechanics of vehicles, it may be a better idea in the long run to give the work to a licensed mechanic. This also applies to your physical limit as attempting to lift a large car part with a weak back can cause serious physical harm. A radiator repair can be very easy on some vehicles and very difficult on others. Older vehicles have less obstructions and less electrical cooling system parts and should be easier to work on.
Before starting a radiator repair turn off your vehicle and allow the car to cool down at least an hour before touching anything. Burns from a still-hot radiator or engine are among one of the most common radiator repair injuries. This is especially true when opening the radiator cap, as pressure and boiling hot liquid can cause serious injuries.

  • Never work on a hot radiator! They are pressurized and get up to 190 degrees and much more if overheating.
  • Fire hazards may seem moot when working with liquids, but is a very real danger that should be accounted for. Keep all open flames away from your workspace, including cigarettes. Keep a fire extinguisher handy, in case a fire does begin. Electrical wires can cause a fire, keep all flames and sparks away from your battery and a gas can ignite if there is a gas leak around the engine.
  • Ensure your car is properly lifted and supported with jack stands. Don’t trust one method to keep your car off the ground, especially before getting under it to work.
  • If repairs or replacements are being made, be sure to drain all coolant before beginning and always wear eye protection.
  • Never work alone, or without someone knowing you are working on your car. Having a friend or family member there to help is always a good idea.
  • Finally, follow instructions. Trying to take shortcuts during repair or replacement may save time, but can be very harmful. If your radiator fails due to a shortcut what did you really save. Do the radiator repair properly or take it somewhere to get it done.

Most of all, remember your safety comes first. Follow all guidelines as stated in your owners manual and any instructions that come with a repair kit if you are using one.

Replacing Your Radiator is Not a Hard Job

While replacing any part of your car or engine may seem like a daunting task, replacing your radiator may not be as hard as you have imagined. Doing this job yourself can save you some labor costs and possibly lower the price on the radiator itself if you shop around correctly.

If you have the basic mechanical experience and the proper tools, you should be able to replace a radiator if you are careful and pay attention to detail. The most useful tool you can equip yourself with before starting this project is some basic knowledge about the job. Never dive into a replacement project without knowing what you can expect. Checking over your car’s manual and a little research online can give you a good idea of what to you are getting into. You should be able to find step-by-step instructions on-line. Please note that there are a lot of vehicles that are very hard to work on. Know your limitations and what the job requires. Do the research and do not get in over your head.

Don’t start taking things apart until you have all the tools handy and replacement parts on hand. Also, when you go to the part store double-check the part they give you. Make sure it is the correct part for your vehicle before you dismantle your car and find out you have the wrong part. Check and double-check everything up front.

Ask Yourself the Following Questions:

Do you have all the right tools?

Is the new radiator the same as the one you are removing?

Are the fittings all the same size and do all connections match?

Does your radiator cap fit on the new radiator?

Do you have the proper replacement antifreeze?

Do you have a catch pan for all the old antifreeze and a safe way to dispose of it?

Are your hoses and clamps ok to loosen and then reuse?

Do you really know about the fittings on the transmission lines going into your radiator?

Do you understand air pockets and bleeding a cooling system?

If you answered yes to all of the above and have everything ready, you can start removing your radiator. Go slow and follow the instructions! Instructions are there for a reason and usually written by people who have done this before you. Skipping or modifying steps is probably not the best idea. Also pay attention to where you put nuts and bolts and try not to drop items into hard to reach areas. Radiator repair can be hard if you’re not paying attention.

The two hardest parts of a radiator replacement can be removing the transmission oil lines and bleeding the cooling system. You can strip oil lines if the fittings are not being put in correctly, and you will overheat if you do not remove any air pockets or bubbles from you cooling system. We have an article on bleeding the cooling system and removing transmission oil lines. Check these two articles out before you tackle this job.

Check and double-check your work. Take the extra time to make sure your work is done correctly. A few extra minutes at the end of the job may help you find something as small as a screw loose, or as big as a hose not being connected. By familiarizing yourself with your engine, getting and gathering the right tools, following instructions, and double checking everything, there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to replace your car’s radiator successfully. With confidence and a steady hand, you can save some money and become a DIY type guy.

If you do not feel comfortable doing this job, for any reason, stop and get help. You do not want to damage your engine trying to save a few dollars.