2003-2004-2005 radiator replacement help

Anybody replace the radiator on an 02-05 Tbird? Just wondering how big a job it is and how expensive? In the past I have did most of the work myself, but I recently had cataract surgery to see at night, it helped that but now I can't see anything up close.

Last year the plastic part on the upper radiator hose busted, so I replaced upper hose, thermostat, thermostat housing, lower radiator hose, no leaks for 6 months but now I'm losing coolant again, it is dripping in front, so I figure it is either radiator or water pump.

Thanks for any info
the new radiator is in and I have a few things to tell anyone who plans to change their radiator.
The Chilton labor hours read 5 hours. Good luck.
There is the coolant radiator, the Trans oil and pwr/Str cooler combo and the A/C condenser that are all mounted together.

The biggest problem is the lower radiator mounts are so wide it is very difficult to get the radiator up and out. In front of the coolant/radiator is a dual power steering/transmission cooler. The oil hoses for the Pwr/Str run between the frame rail and the coolant radiator, plus the A/C pipe that goes to the condenser on the driver's side. The Trans. cooler hoses and an A/C pipe are on the passenger side, they all interfere with the removal and installation of the coolant/radiator.

If I was to do this job again I would evac the A/C freon and remove the hard lines to the condenser. Then move those lines out of the way. But if you don't know how or don't want to recharge the A/C then do this.

Remove all the parts you can and then remove the oil lines to the Pwr/Str cooler on the driver's side. You will have to remove two permanent hose clamps at the cooler. This will give you some extra room by getting those hoses out of the way from between the radiator and the frame, plus the Pwr/Str Trans oil cooler will be fall out of the way.
Take a picture of how the A/C pipe and trans oil hoses are rooted. try not to bend the passenger side A/C pipe as you remove the radiator. (the A/C condenser drops down and can bend the pipe)
Hold the A/C condenser up, Then pull up on the passenger side of the radiator up first sort of angling the radiator so as to clear the bottom outlet of the radiator with the A/C line you did not remove.
After I get the Radi. in I test drive the car for about 1 mile, then check it out, no leaks.
the car sits for two days and today I want to give it a ride for about 25 miles so I take it for 1 miles ride bring it back, check it out, all OK.
get the five and turn onto the 45MPH boulevard.
Give it a full-throttle run up to 45 then brake for the red light. The smoke comes flowing out from the front. I open the hood to find ANT-FREEZE. Turn the car around and back to the house 1/4 mile away.

Pressure test finds the leak at the thermostat O ring. That BIG O ring connects the thermostat to the block under the intake manifold.

darn. I replaced that 3.5 years ago. I guess it dried out when I took the radiator out and aired out for 6 days.

The thermostat housing is off and the O ring has no resistance when I side it on or off so I guess that's the problem.

the leak is fixed. It was the O ring, When I pulled off the thermostat housing there was no resistance and it would side back over the O ring with no effort.
When I put the NEW O ring on it I lubricated it and it was still a struggle to push it on.
Ford has gone out of their mind with prices. The Big O ring cost $13.50 and the small ones are $9.50 each. I am sure you can find them online for $5 each.
Last edited by a moderator:
It's always something! I've worked on cars and trucks before repairing one thing, then out of the blue something else that was irrelevant shows up as a problem. Once all of the bugs are ironed out we've learned something in the process, and we can go down the road happy!

Enjoy yourself and have some fun!