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Thread: Reworking 4wd radiator

  1. #1
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    Reworking 4wd radiator

    One thing after another the past few months with my dang van. I'm hitting about 160,000 on my 88 and it seems everything is starting to fall apart. The other day I noticed my radiator was caked up with gunk and mud and what not as I had fan out and doing some other work. I decided to spray it off to clean it up. A day later after getting back on road, radiator light came on, and I noticed leaking coolant. Diggin back into it, found it was coming from radiator. Pretty banged up now that I have it out. I think I'd like to get it recored. I understand you can't find a new or aftermarket for 4wd. So before I go forward with paying to have this radiator worked on, I'd like to see if it's the original or not.

    Does anyone have a picture of the stock radiator for an 88 4wd? Or is there a way to check to see if what I took out is aftermarket or not? Maybe it doesn't matter and I should have it worked on either way. What do y'all think?

    Thanks a lot.

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    Re: Reworking 4wd radiator

    If it's leaking take it to a radiator shop. They can take a tank off and inspect condition. if it's repairable they'll rod it out, put it back together, and fix the leak. If it's too far gone they'll give you the option to recore. Not every radiator shop can recore these radiators, so before getting too involved with your local guys you might ask what they're capable of. If you go with a recore I'd recommend getting the extra row high efficiency one. It will likely cost close to $500, but if you plan on keeping the van long term, it's worth it. Tim

    PS: For more information, search the site using the terms "ability radiator"

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    Re: Reworking 4wd radiator

    I am going to do this in the next week myself ratatouille. Because I have two (the one in my parts van looks decent) I am going to let my local guy have a look at it first. If he can't handle it, I have seen recommendations on here before. Hopefully somebody who has had a good experience recently can chime in and we can ship to their guy if we need to.

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    Re: Reworking 4wd radiator

    Tim- I've already done research into this through the sites. Thanks. A link I found that has good info is over at TVP..

    What I'm trying to figure though, is it worth spending the 400-500 to do a recore on an aftermarket radiator? Or is it better to have this work done on a genuine toyota part? I'm wondering if the radiator I took out of my van is aftermarket or toyota part. I know there is no aftermarket available at this time to buy new...but has it always been that way? I'm not seeing any toyota stamp or label on my radiator to prove it's toyota..

    I've taken my radiator around town, so far I've got mixed responses on it, but no one so far is really confident in squeezing the 4-row into the narrow radiator. Most say it's not possible...I know it is.. One shop quoted me $1,200 and said they would try if I wanted them too. I was hoping to find a local shop but it's looking slim. I wanted to see how they did the work, and I'm out of my daily driver right now. The skateboard is getting a lot of miles right now... Most likely I'll be mailing it out to a shop...

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    Re: Reworking 4wd radiator

    Not knowing quality differences between AM and OEM, I would feel better sending a known OEM in for recore. Keep in mind the only parts that will be reused are the tanks & mounting brackets, but I suspect these parts would likely be thicker/stronger on OEM (but don't know that for sure). Yes, until about 3 or 4 years ago AM radiators were available for 4wd vans. To my knowledge, they only made these with transmission coolers (OEM made with or without depending on if it were a manual or auto transmission). So in your case, since your van is a manual transmission, if it doesn't have the transmission cooler nipples, it would be safe to assume it is OEM. I used to have 5 or 6 OEM 4wd radiators until a metal thief stole them all a couple years ago (bastard) . If I still had these I'd be happy to describe and post pics. Tim

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    Re: Reworking 4wd radiator

    Thanks for the info Tim.

    I found a shop thats semi local that a friend recommend I use. They told me the radiator I have is original. The shop lead there talked me out of spending the extra money to squeeze a 4 core into the radiator. They say they rather not heat up and stretch the old radiator metal tanks to fit a 4 core in. Also I was told it really is not necessary to do the 4 core, because by the time the fluid passes through the 3 cores it's already hot and the 4th core does not do anything. This shop said 3 core high efficiency core will be more then enough for my van. I was told that also, by putting a 4 core in, the radiator becomes more ridged. These radiators are 3 core so that they flex and move with the bumps and vibrations of the 4wd van. If they do the 4-core, it raises the risk of radiator cracking.

    I was quoted 404.00 to do a 3 core high efficiency. I think it was about 120 for labor and 260ish for parts..plus 20 or so for tax.. I may get a small break for paying with fiat.

    Should I go ahead and go with what this shop is recommending? Does it make sense what their telling me? 3-core high efficiency instead of 4 core?

    Dropped the radiator off today, but they won't build the core till Monday. So I have the weekend to sleep on it in case I decided to go somewhere else.

    Thank you very much.

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    Re: Reworking 4wd radiator

    The funny thing with experts is half always seem to disagree with the other half . When it comes to radiators, I'm no expert. Everything I have posted about radiators is based on what my radiator guy has told me...............and I consider him to be an expert (after all, he works on them all day every day). But your guy probably does too, so who do you believe? What he says makes sense, but so does the stuff my guy says (too bad they are opposite things). I went with the 4 core and have been using it for almost 10 years. I guess it's a good thing I didn't know it was inferior because I paid over $500 for it.

    Regardless of which way you go, if you stick with high efficiency it will still be better than OEM. If you trust your guy, then just do what he says. If he believes the 3 core is better he'll likely do a better job on it. If you go against his recommendations, then maybe he'll "forget" to make a solder joint or "accidentally" overstretch a tank (if for no other reason than to prove his point) . I'm kidding around of course, but the point is don't make him do something he doesn't believe in. It sounds like he'll stand behind the 3 core, but probably not the 4. Good luck and take some pics when it's complete. Tim

    BTW, I've heard the 3 core vs 4 core argument before. I think it's kind of like the Ford vs Chevy arguments. I think it boils down to preference. I think some of the claims (on both sides) are BS, but who knows. As long as you go high efficiency I think you'll be good..........at least better than stock .

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    Re: Reworking 4wd radiator

    I personally think $500 for a radiator is Outragiously over priced.

    I am considering an alternative radiator.
    Here is what i have gathered
    Stock radiator for a 4x4 van is 24" x 13 and uses 1.25" hose (33mm) located on Bottom Left and Top Right
    Toyota Supra 24 x 16
    Poniac Fiero 19 x 15, Top Left, Bottom Right
    VW Jetta 24 x 13, Right side hose connections in and out
    VW Sorracco 23 x 12.5 (expensive for some reason)
    Toyota MR2 29.75 x 14, 1.25 hose
    Toyota Corolla 83 - 87 (Ae86) 21 x 12.75, 1.3 hose connections, Bottom Left, Top Right. PURCHASED

    I haven't had time to install the corolla radiator yet. I need to change the hose attachment size. I will document it here this summer, when i do. But it only cost me $200, including 2 electric fans, all aluminum construction.

    I hope this information helps inspire someone else not to drop $500 on a custom radiator.

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    Re: Reworking 4wd radiator

    Yes, please share your results with us. But remember, just one severe overheating episode could easily exceed the cost of an "overpriced" quality radiator. I'm happy to say I've had over 10 trouble free years so far with mine..........and it was a "drop in" exact fit (no duct tape or bailing wire required). Good luck. Tim

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    Re: Reworking 4wd radiator

    Wow! Duck Tape and bailing wire!!!

    I didn't realize that was my reputation.

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    Re: Reworking 4wd radiator


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    Re: Reworking 4wd radiator

    This doesn't say it's for a 4wd, and I like where you're going with the Corolla radiator, but I just saw this on the ebay. It looks to be about the same as the Corolla:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/ProRad-Radia...9dc09b&vxp=mtr

    Condition : New
    Core material : Copper
    Core dimensions : 13.63 x 21.63 x 2 in.
    Inlet size : 1.38 in.
    Outlet size : 1.38 in.
    Overall dimensions : 21.63 x 13.63 x 2 in.
    Automatic transmission cooler : Yes
    Anticipated ship out time : 1-2 business days
    Product fit : Direct fit
    Recommended use : OE Replacement
    Product color/finish : Natural
    Tank material : Brass

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    Re: Reworking 4wd radiator

    That radiator looks spot on!!!
    I see 2 minor things but they shouldn't effect fitment. The small air bleed tube at the top right should not have a bend. But you could probably cut it to make it straight. The seam down the middle of the core does not appear on my 4x4 radiator.
    Last edited by coronan; 05-15-2014 at 10:40 PM.

  14. #14
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    Re: Reworking 4wd radiator

    That radiator won't fit a 4wd. It's for a 2wd. 4wd radiators are shorter to make room for the front differential. The lower mounts are also different on the 4wd radiators. To my knowledge, nobody makes radiators for 4wd vans anymore. Your only option would be to get a recore or hobble something in there that doesn't belong. Tim

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    Re: Reworking 4wd radiator

    Bummer dude.

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    Re: Reworking 4wd radiator

    While this option might not be for everyone; I liked the way the corolla radiator went in.

    It is taller but does not hang below the chassis.

    Being as my front diff is out for rebuild this may apply better to a 2wd application.
    Personally I will be able to compensate for the differential fitment later this summer when do my my lift, and center mounted, 7.5" differential.

    If i did have a 2wd van i would consider tilting the front of the radiator down so that it could pull air more freely from below.
    It would limit certain service to the crank pulley, timing cover. But pulling the radiator is only a few bolts any how.

    I used 2 1/4x22" universal lower radiator hoses to reach over to the passenger side. They are married together with a piece of 1" galvanized pipe.

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    Side by side

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    New bracket all tacked up. It also offers a little bit of bash protection.

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    Despite the new radiator being taller. None of it hangs below the frame.

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    Rubber pads between the bracket and radiator.

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    New bracket welded, painted and ready for reassembly.

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    Final assembly. Note new upper radiator bracket and long double hose on the lower radiator port. If you do this make sure it cant rub on the crank pulley.
    Molded hoses probably flow better an ill be ordering some from rock auto.
    Upper hose is stock but trimmer from both ends to keep it from kinking.

    I lacked the sheet metal for a fan shroud so they got mounted directially. I'll bet one fabbed up next week.
    I'm curious to see how cool it runs with 66% coverage. it will be a fun before and after test.

    Space is tight over on the passenger side due to the AC tubes.

    Also in the picture is an HHO bubbler.

    Anyone want my old radiator with electric fans?

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    Re: Reworking 4wd radiator

    Coronan, that's a nice set up, I might be interested in the radiator if it's for a manual transmission. Thx

  18. #18
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    Re: Reworking 4wd radiator

    Wow! I'm impressed (no bailing wire or duct tape) . I was going to ask how you planned on getting access to the radiator cap, but then realized you won't need to (redundant). I like the idea of aluminum here. Please keep us posted on how it cools. Too bad you couldn't find one with the lower hose outlet on the left. The only thing marginally "hokey" is that long scabbed together hose, but I'm sure you'll improve on that. Nice job! Thanks for posting. Tim

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    Re: Reworking 4wd radiator

    Quote Originally Posted by JDM VANMAN View Post
    Coronan, that's a nice set up, I might be interested in the radiator if it's for a manual transmission. Thx
    Auto transmission radiators can be used on anything. If you're putting it with a manual transmission you simply don't use the transmission cooler part. It's only a problem if you're putting a manual only radiator on an auto............but then you can always use a remote cooler instead. Tim

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    Re: Reworking 4wd radiator

    Thanks Tim.

    @ JDM: My van is MT. The whole thing is bolt in except the upper radiator bracket. I had to cut out the old one. And chose to weld the new one. It could be made to bolt in but i didn't have a pancake bolt handy.

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    Then it would fit under the passenger side engine cover and be reverse compatible.

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