LMC Truck: Radiator Core Support Replacement Transcript
Hi I'm Kevin Tetz working alongside LMC Truck to bring you some technical information and videos that we hope will make your truck restoration project go even smoother. In this video we're going to address a common problem with the ‘92 to ‘98 F250 and F350 diesel trucks, namely the self-destructing radiator support.
The problem with the original radiator support is that due to diesel vibration, moisture penetration, and chassis flex. The original support develops stress cracks that only get worse over time and eventually it just kind of comes apart. I wanted to show you some of the key points of the exclusive LMC Truck replacement design that will solve that problem permanently. When you look closely at this reinforcement, you'll notice a perimeter weld all the way around the outside that not only makes it a stronger weld than just the spot welds but it also eliminates moisture penetration to the backside of this plate. Even at the bottom of the radiator support we've got a full seam weld in between the two plates that's designed again to stop moisture penetration from getting in between the two pieces of metal. If you look right here on top of the upper part of the radiator support being made of a heavier gauge steel. These reliefs are also stamped in to give even more strength to these common prone areas that typically stress crack. Another cool feature is that the jack handle clips are already pre-installed on the support, riveted in place which just saves you time. This support also comes covered in a thick EDP coating which helps with corrosion and looks good doing it.
So obviously we're not working on a brand new vehicle and the LMC truck catalog has full replacement parts for everything that you would possibly need including the bushings for the radiator support shim stacks, hardware spring steel clips, support bolts, the brackets for the radiator support, the mount to the frame, even the radiator bracket to the support. Everything that you might possibly need to replace your support, well it's all in the catalog.
As far as tools go, you're gonna need a good socket set, and a wrench set both standard and metric sizes, impact tool is probably a good idea as well, and don't forget your penetrating oil. For safety gear, bring your common sense a good pair of safety glasses and some gloves. Now here's something you may not think about right away… get some sandwich bags and some markers, that way you can bag and tag your fasteners and keep track of everything. Speaking of keeping track, take pictures of everything under the hood. That way you know where everything goes when it comes time to reassemble.
On the difficulty meter this is not that bad, just changing parts. I'll give it a three out of five on the difficulty scale. But you may want to plan on having a buddy help you lift some of the heavy stuff.
As far as time goes, plan on a solid day to get this done if you've got a really well-equipped shop. Weekend warriors and DIY guys, give yourself the weekend.
Tear down starts with the grille and headlight bezels which are held in place with the Phillips screws. Now the rest of the headlight assembly comes out with two fasteners located on the backside of the radiator support. If you've got small hands and small tools you don't have to take the battery out, but I want to show you where they are, so we're gonna take both batteries out, so we can have access and make it a little easier on ourselves. Unplugging the headlight and turn signal bulbs is pretty straightforward. Just be gentle with your wiring and set it out of the way. Ford is all over the place with fastener sizes. These are 11 millimeter nuts on the headlight bezel studs. I'm using a quarter drive deep well for most of this disassembly. After twisting out the side marker and running light bulbs, the bezel comes away easily. Alright, so this stud is actually molded into the backside of the headlight bezel itself and they turn out of there sometimes. The plastic gets brittle and breaks so we're just gonna hold it from the front side of the vise grip and back off the 11 millimeter nut and we'll glue it back into the bezel or we'll get a new one. The grille reinforcement panel is held in place with eight millimeter bolts that we're going to bag and label, just to keep track of.
Now this looks like a Phillips head screw but it's not. It's a push pin that's cleverly disguised as a Phillips head. I'm not putting any pressure on it while I back it out because it is actually threaded but it's a pin and you're still not done. And you pry the first part out and you can see how it works. The pin expands the ears and that's your fastener. That's the action, but I'm going to keep these pieces together. Don't lose them and just be gentle when you pull them out.
The hood latch gets unbolted from the support bracket and the release cable disconnected. Remove the hood release cable and that gets fed back through the radiator support.
Be aware that there are several wire looms and sensors attached to your core support. Disconnect everything so you don't damage any of your wiring system.
The air deflectors play an important role in any engine so make sure you understand where and how they're attached so they can be reinstalled properly. These are installed with plastic pushpins.
The hood latch support could really be left on the support and transferred later but we're taking all of this off now and labeling the fasteners.
To protect the radiator core from damage if it hits the fan, I'm using a piece of cardboard and taping it to the top of the radiator while we remove and reinstall it.
It's a common ground stud for several under hood systems that attaches to the top of the support. It's very important to make sure everything gets reinstalled properly on this stud. That way I know they're all on the same stud.
There are left and right support brackets that are attached to the support and inner aprons it gets removed access to the fasteners is tight ratcheting wrenches are a big time-saver here.
The radiator is held in place with four bolts to the radiator support brackets. the fan shroud is the same way. Once the fan shroud is unbolted and set back, we can drain the radiator and remove it. This truck is high enough off the ground where we can use buckets to collect the antifreeze since it's a couple of gallons capacity. That said, some absorbing mats might help contain the mess that is inevitably gonna happen draining a radiator. Once the upper and lower radiator hoses are removed the radiator can be lifted out, stuffing a rag in the lower hose is a nice trick to keep the antifreeze from dripping out with the radiator removed. Ours is an aftermarket aluminum radiator which makes it nice and light keep in mind new radiators shrouds and even electric fan kits are available from LMC Truck.
The opening in the support is large enough to be able to remove the a/c condenser, slide it back through and out of the way, without discharging the coolant which is expensive if done properly and could be illegal if discharged into the atmosphere. The lines are flexible and will allow you to carefully slip the condenser through the opening and secure it safely out of the way.
Now with everything out of the way we can remove the remaining fasteners that attach the support to the truck.
We're down to the last bolts which are the radiator support bolts that mount to the frame. now we got a new bushing kit just in anticipation of this. If your radiator support is rusty, it's probably well served that should go to the LMC truck catalog. And when you purchase your radiator support, get the bushing and bolt kit because if you look at this thing well it's rusty and it's probably going to break off and there's no point even trying with this. We're just gonna cut it off and go straight to the new set. And don't forget about the four large flat washer bolts that hold the splash shields to the bottom of the radiator support, like I did.
Finally you've got to fine-thread eight millimeter bolts that come in through the backside. This one goes right there and there's another one down a little bit lower. With those out of the way this bracket can get out of the way and now we can pull the radiator support up and out from one side.
We're going to protect the painted surfaces with some absorbing mats just in case the heavy support comes into contact with the stone deflector. Paint repair gets expensive and the radiator support has sharp edges.
All right so we've got a couple of brackets to transfer over as well as a lower air deflector. But I wanted to show you what happens when the moisture penetrates between the plates on the original radiator support. You've probably seen this on your own. it rusts. It corrodes and it makes the stress cracks even worse. You can truly see the benefit of the seam weld around these reinforcement plates on the LMC truck support.
Transferring brackets while it's pretty straightforward, we're using the original hardware. If it's in good enough condition and new LMC Truck Hardware on any damaged fasteners. Lubricating the threads it's a good idea. and since our original inner reinforcement brackets are still in great shape, we're going to save little cash you just reinstall them.
The lower air deflector is held in with steel rivets from the factory as well as plastic pushpins. We're reinstalling it with new pushpins from the catalog. New J clips get installed at the bottom of the support since the original ones were rusty. The ID tag on the original support has vehicle information but it's stapled to the support. I'm just gonna remove it and reinstall it in the same place on the new support using a self drilling screw.
The LMC truck catalog shows the exploded diagram of exactly how your new shim stack should go according to the original equipment. However, this truck is not original so we're gonna use the shim stack that they had so we have the same level on the radiator support which starts with the upper bushing, the owner’s spacer, and a large flat washer. driver side reinforcement plate has locating pins and tells me where to put it. good enough for now.
Whether you're using new fasteners or the original equipment fasteners it's always a great idea to add a little bit of lubricant to the threads. that way it keeps them from galling.
Okay now we got to sneak some fasteners in so I like to use a drift pin to line everything up. Now I can hold that in place. Sneak my fastener bottom hole. This just comes in handy when you're working in tight areas and you need more than one set of hands. Thank you, swivel socket. From the battery tray to the brace from the top and now we can get last to inside the support.
This bracket slides in. Fasters go to the inside to the fender first. Pay attention to the condition of the ground eyelets. Any corrosion needs to be cleaned off. Ours looked fine. The new bolts get threaded into the bushings and tighten down with an impact gun.
Okay obviously we can't get a camera and down in that recess but you can see the stud and you can see where this washer goes and why it's got the slots in it. This washer goes on top followed by the nut and please a 19 millimeter deep well impact socket and a swivel and that's that.
Keep in mind there's plenty of adjustment with all of the brackets on your new support including the ones that mount the support to the fenders if you need to move things around for fitment. Did you label your fasteners?
We like this.
Don't forget, this impedes the water flow.
When you're reinstalling the reinforcement panel make sure your lighting harnesses aren't pinched and that they're routed correctly. Since our plastic wasn't broken, just the studs stripped out, a little bit epoxy on the stud will lock it back into place and repair it. The hose clamp is a good idea.
Lastly, we'll get these splash shields locked down.
Now don't be alarmed if all of the coolant you remove doesn't go back into the radiator right away. The hoses and overflow reservoir take up some capacity and usually a heat cycle with the truck running will normalize everything and you can just top off the coolant overflow jug.
Now don't forget you've changed the place of your hood latch. So we've got to flash that in there to see you can hear it and you can see that it's offset to the driver's side. So we're going to loosen that off a little bit maybe move it over 1/16th or 1/8th of an inch. We'll test it again and it looks to be, I don't hear that, yep look it's good and centered, no interference. Good deal.
Well this video shows you that changing out the radiator core support for your ‘92 to ‘98 F250 or F350 diesel truck is a project that you can do. In the meantime, make sure you check out the LMC truck catalog, or go to lmctruck.com, to see what other kind of parts are available for your project.