Replace The Radiator on a Volvo 240
The Volvo 240 radiators are plastic and over time will need replacing. You may also need a new radiator if your car is running hot and other components of the cooling system are working as expected or if your radiator has formed a leak.
Replacing the radiator is relatively straightforward. You will need to flush the coolant, and when putting everything back to together you'll want to make sure to safeguard against leaks.
This article was written up on my 1993 240. To my understanding this write-up should apply to all model years but specifically for parts make sure that they fit your model year. There may be minor differences.
- 10mm Socket Wrench
- 13mm Socket Wrench
- Flat-head screwdriver
- 15mm Wrench (If you own an automatic)
- Drip pan (Having two would be preferable)
- Container(s) to dispose of old fluid
- Lots of shop towels and large pieces of cardboard
- Garden hose (with spray nozzle)
- Funnel to fill coolant
- Hose/tubing or funnel to drain coolant from drain cock
- New radiator (Cheaper aftermarket option, Nissens aftermarket)
- New cooling system hoses and clamps (Optional, if replacing old hoses)
- New thermostat (Optional, but good idea as they do go bad and it's less messy to replace while coolant system is drained)
- Phosphate-free HOAT Coolant - Either two containers of pre-mixed 50/50 coolant or mix your own with distilled water (Genuine Volvo)
- Thread sealant for trans fluid cooling lines (Optional, for automatic only)
- Thread sealant for brass fittings (Optional - Needed if aftermarket radiator uses brass fittings for hose connections instead of molded plastic)
Coolant is very toxic to pets, and can kill them when ingested. Be mindful of any coolant that leaks and make sure to clean up any that falls in a driveway or garage floor.
Identifying the components that you'll be working with:
Lower hose & Trans fluid cooling lines in detail:
Use your 10mm socket wrench to remove the negative lead off the battery
Set the cabin temperature slider to full heat. This will allow the most amount of coolant to drain when you flush it (described later).
Drain old coolant
Remove the cap from the overflow tank
To drain the coolant you'll remove the lower radiator hose. Place the drain bin underneath the radiator and lower hose. Here you can see the areas where the coolant will drain from, so take care to position to catch as much coolant as possible.
Cardboard is your friend to soak up any coolant that misses your drain bin!
Using a flathead screwdriver loosen the hose clamp on the lower radiator hose, then pull the hose off the radiator. Be prepared for coolant to drain out, and it will be messy. You may need to adjust the drain bin accordingly.
Remove old radiator
Now you'll need to remove the hoses attached to the radiator. Remove the upper radiator hose.
Remove the overflow hose - It's clamped with a clamp that you can loosen with pliers
Remove the fill hose
If you have an automatic remove the transmission fluid coolant lines. The fittings are 15mm, and should be very snug so expect some resistance.
Now with all hoses removed you can remove the fan shroud. On my car its held in by two Torx 25 screws - earlier models may have used Phillips head screws instead.
You can now pull the fan shroud back towards the engine to clear it from the radiator.
Remove the two nuts (10mm) securing the radiator brackets
The brackets may contain a spacer underneath. Be careful when removing the brackets because the spacer can roll down into the nearby holes in the body (I speak with experience). If that happens you can remove the grill to retrieve them.
Now you can remove the brackets and carefully pull the radiator up and out
Your old radiator will most likely still have coolant left inside that didn't flow out when disconnecting the hoses. When pulling the radiator tilt it so that the openings point upwards, otherwise you can spill more coolant.
With everything removed you may want to go ahead and replace the thermostat. You simply need to remove the old one (at the other end of the upper radiator hose) and replace it with a new part.
You may also want to replace any beat-up hoses with new hoses as you install the new radiator.
Install new radiator
Install of the new radiator is the reverse of the procedure above. Reattach all hoses except the lower radiator hose - that will be left open in order to flush the radiator. If your radiator is an aftermarket one then it may have brass fittings for the fill hose and overflow hose (example shown below). On mine those brass fittings screwed into the plastic of the radiator, which later I discovered were leaking and required me to drain my new coolant to fix. If this describes your radiator, you'll want to use a thread sealant on the male fittings. Spread the sealant as described on the package, screw into the radiator and let it cure for 24 hours.
Be careful tightening any hoses that connect to a plastic fitting! If you over-tighten the clamp you risk cracking the plastic and having a leaky hose connection.
If you have an automatic the trans fluid cooling lines can leak as well. This happened to me, so I also applied thread sealant to these and put a lot of strength into making sure the lines were very tightly screwed on. You may choose to skip the sealant as you can always undo these lines and add sealant later if leaks develop.
Now would be a good idea to take the time to flush out the old coolant. You'll need to open up the drain cock on the side of the engine, which will enable you to flush out all of the coolant that you won't be able to remove by simply draining.
The drain cock is difficult to see as its low on the right side of the engine. It's easy to feel for however. There is a red heater return water pipe. You can see a portion of it in the picture below. Reach for that pipe, then move down a little until you feel a cylindrical protrusion - that's the drain cock.
The drain cock is 13mm. Loosen (don't remove) with a 13mm socket wrench to open up the drain.
Place a hose around the drain cock so that you can direct the coolant into a drain pan. I opted to use a tall funnel instead - I was able to maneuver the funnel to be stationary and point the coolant into a second drain pan.
Now you'll use your garden hose to flush the system. Make sure your lower radiator hose is not connected. Then, put the garden hose in the fill tank and pump water through with light pressure. Water should flow out the lower radiator hose connection.
Connect the lower radiator hose, then begin to fill the radiator with water. At some point, coolant will begin to trickle out of the loosened drain cock.
Once coolant has moved out of the drain cock and has been replaced with water then tighten the drain cock and remove any hoses or funnels.
Finish by continuing to add water until you reach the max line in the reservoir. Inspect hoses and see if any leaks develop.
Hopefully everything looks good. Drain water by disconnecting the lower radiator hose.
Coolant should be a phosphate-free HOAT type coolant. I went with Zerex G-05, but there are many options out there. If yours is not premixed you'll need to mix it with 50% coolant and 50% distilled water.
Reconnect the lower radiator hose again, then use a funnel to add coolant to the fill tank. Add coolant until you reach near the fill line.
Leave the cap off and remove the funnel.
Testing & Completing the Install
Reattach the negative terminal to the battery (10mm)
Start the car and inspect the radiator for leaks. You may see bubbles form in the fill tank, which is good - that's air in the system escaping. You need to run the system until it gets to temperature (in order to test that everything is working) and to remove excess air in the system.
Check the temperature gauge - it should eventually hover around the mid-point. If the temperature continues to climb then the system may not be escaping the air. This happened to me. Turn on the heater to bring the temp down so that you can continue to run the engine, in an effort to eventually allow the air to escape. You may also want to try massaging the upper radiator hose in an effort to ensure that coolant is getting to the thermostat and that air is leaving the system.
Make sure to keep an eye on the temperature. If it keeps rising and you can't prevent it from nearing the red zone then you'll want to cut power, otherwise you risk engine damage.
As air escapes you can expect the coolant level to go down. Top-off the coolant in the fill tank to return to the max line, then tighten the cap back on.
After the install keep an eye out for any loose connections, any leaky connections, any leaky trans fluid coolant fittings and especially keep an eye on the temperature gauge as you drive the car with the new radiator. Check the fill tank and make sure that you're not losing coolant.
Recycle or correctly dispose of the drained coolant. Now all that's left is to enjoy the well-operating cooling system on your 240!
- Transmission fluid coolant line fittings (Automatic only): 15mm
- Drain cock: 13mm
- Battery terminal: 10mm