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Changing radiator on an '05 PT Cruiser turbo GT

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Old 07 Sep 2014, 11:29 pm
KA9VQF's Avatar
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Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Savanna Illinois
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Default Changing radiator on an '05 PT Cruiser turbo GT

I don't know if this should go here or somewhere else. The mods can move it it they want.

A few weeks ago my daughter borrowed the PT Cruiser to go to Decatur to visit her boyfriend. On the way home he was driving and noticed the temp gauge was reading a little high so he stopped at a truck stop and they bought a gallon of 50/50 Prestone any make any model antifreeze and put most of it in the car.

The rest of the way home everything was fine. The next day they brought the car home and told me it had overheated a bit. I checked things and the cooling system was a bit low so I topped it off but decided to check it every time we went anywhere. I did this for around two weeks and it was always full so I sorta stopped looking all the time.

A few days later my wife took her pal Barb down to Clinton Iowa {about a 40 mile round trip} it was a little after dark when she got home so she just parked the car and came in. When I got up the next day there was a large wet spot in front of the car. A little closer inspection told me it was antifreeze. When I looked under the pressure cap it was low.

I put just over two gallons of 50/50 mix in to fill it up then started it and let it run while the air bleeder valve was open. Once I got a good full flow of coolant out of the bleeder I closed it off thinking maybe the kids had not done that part when they put coolant in.

Things were fine for the next several days then I finally got my high pressure line for the air conditioner so my younger brother and I installed it. I had decided to put a new thermostat in the car while we were messing with the air conditioner line so we did that too. Once we got the engine up to temp and the air bled out of the cooling system I noticed a pretty steady stream of antifreeze dripping down about the middle of the radiator. I knew I had not missed the fill hole that badly but the stream did not stop after we got the air out of the system.

We decided to go ahead and charge the air conditioner since the car was not actually overheating just leaking a little.

I could not tell exactly where the coolant was leaking so we buttoned things up and I went home and got on the net and ordered a 60 dollar replacement radiator from eBay.

In a very short number of days the radiator was here so I started to pull the old one out yesterday at around 9 am. I spent a lot of time trying to reach in where my huge hands did not really want to go to get all the bolts out of the radiator. Eventually I got it out the next day {I ran out of daylight the first day}. Today I was trying to get the new radiator in and figured out that I had to cut some of the holes for mounting it in other PT Cruisers off this one to clear the charge pipe from the inter cooler on the turbo charger.

Usually before I do something like this I look on sites like this and on youtube to see if anyone else has done it and made a video. I found a few but none that actually showed how to do the job. Some of the things I read said you must remove the radiator and fan as an assembly from the bottom on turbo charged PT GT's.

I can tell you for a fact that on my '05 PT Cruiser GT convertible, it can not be done from the bottom with the fan on. It will not clear the transmission. It will come out the top but I took the fan off first then the radiator came out fairly easy. Putting the new one back in was a lot tougher. The inter cooler has two holes that the pins on the bottom of the radiator have to go through. While your trying to do this the inter cooler, the air conditioning condenser, and the transmission cooler all tend to float around and get in your way.

I started the job by myself but had to go get my younger brother a little after noon time today to help me put the new one back in. He guided the new radiator from the bottom while I jiggled and wiggled it from the top. When it finally got all lined up I smashed his finger a pretty good one but at least it was in place and it was time to reassemble everything.

There were a lot of little things that gave us grief, like the bolt to the battery hold down stripped. I found another better bolt but the captured nut below was evidently also stripped so I ended up putting a stainless steel screw up from the bottom with a nut rundown snugly to hold it in place then another new nut on top of the hold down wire.

Only one hole lined up on the drivers side of the radiator so I'm and still scheming on how to put at least one more in on that side. There were three counting the one that goes through the fan plastic the other one in the aluminum is way to high on that side to go where the original was and there is no metal to drill a hole in to replace it.

The original owner put one of those cold air filters on this car. At least I don't think they came with this air filter. It sits in a mostly open box and the box just sorta floats inside the engine bay. It had a funny shaped edge on it that made it hard to get in and out so I cut that off. I can not see where it did anything in the first place and don't think I will miss it.

I took it for a shake down cruise and it did not overheat and does not leak so I would have to say we enjoyed success on this project. I'm thinking the thermostat might have been not working correctly in the first place to cause the original overheating thing and the core of the radiator may have been over stressed even though both my brother and I looked very closely with my 5” 10X magnifying glass and can see no holes.

I plan to build a wooden tub to sink it in and then put some air pressure on it to see where it bubbles. If I can patch it I will keep it around for a spare. If I can not I will find out how much aluminum is scrapping for these days.

Last edited by KA9VQF; 07 Sep 2014 at 11:37 pm.
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