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How to Change the Radiator in a Volkswagen Passat

Updated February 21, 2017

The radiator on your Volkswagen Passat is designed with a plastic radiator support system to make repair or replacement of the unit much easier to complete. It also allows for more design flexibility in the placement of engine parts. Replacing the radiator in your Volkswagen Passat is a fairly simple process, but due to the tight work space it will take a few hours to complete the work.

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  1. Detach the negative battery cable from the battery of your Volkswagen Passat with an open end wrench. Move the cable away from any metal parts of the vehicle.

  2. Remove the plastic shroud that covers the radiator with a screwdriver and metric socket wrench and set the shroud aside.

  3. Take the caps off of the coolant overflow reservoir and the radiator tank. Place a drain pan underneath the radiator drain plug on the bottom of the radiator. Open the drain plug with a metric open end wrench until the radiator is completely empty.

  4. Locate the transmission coolant return lines at the bottom of the radiator, next to the drain plug. Detach the lines with a metric open end wrench to drain the coolant from the lines. Find the lower radiator outlet hose and undo the hose clamp with a screwdriver. Let the coolant from the lower hose drain into the drain pan.

  5. Detach the upper radiator hose from the radiator with a screwdriver. Then unplug the electrical connector on the fan blade assembly from the electrical plug that runs to the battery.

  6. Use a socket wrench to remove the fan blade housing from the radiator frame and take the assembly out of the engine compartment.

  7. Unhook the plastic radiator frame by sliding a screwdriver under the slots on the top of the frame and lifting up to undo the clips. With everything detached from the radiator, lift it out of the frame and remove it from the engine compartment.

  8. Slide the new radiator into the radiator frame and push the clips on the top of the frame back into place.

  9. Reattach the fan blade housing to the radiator frame and then plug the electrical connector back into the plug in socket.

  10. Attach the upper and lower radiator hoses with screw clamps and then attach the transmission cooling lines to the bottom of the radiator.

  11. Fill the coolant overflow tank 1/2 full of coolant and place the cap back on the tank. Fill the radiator with coolant until it reaches the full level and then place the cap back on the radiator.

  12. Reattach the plastic shroud over the top of the radiator with screws and bolts and then reattach the negative battery cable to the battery of your Volkswagen Passat.

  13. Remove the drain pan from underneath the car and then start the engine to verify that the new radiator is working properly.

  14. Turn the engine off and dispose of the drained coolant at your local automotive supply or recycling centre.

  15. Warning

    Never open a radiator cap when the engine is hot. Allow it to cool down before beginning any repairs.

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Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Metric socket wrench set
  • Metric open end wrench
  • Drain pan
  • Coolant

About the Author

Carl Pruit

Carl Pruit has been a freelance writer since 2005, specializing in service journalism and travel. His work has appeared on various websites. Born and raised in California, Pruit attended Contra Costa Community College in San Pablo, Calif. and received an associate degree in the administration of justice.

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