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DIY: Nissan Skyline Radiator Replacement and Upgrade

Foot down, revs high, sweat dripping, you’ve got a record smashing lap lined up but then in the corner of your eye you see the water temperature frantically climbing towards the no go zone area. Disappointment rushes through you body as you know better to back off the noise pedal before you cause some irreversible damage to your vehicle.

Time to replace that factory radiator and upgrade to a shiny one!

DIY Skyline Radiator (1 of 14)

In today’s modern cars, radiators were designed to cool down the motor in normal day to day driving conditions. When a car gets brought into demanding conditions such as a race track or outside its normal operating parameters, the factory cooling system can no longer keep the coolant temperatures down. The amount of heat the motor is generating versus the amount of heat dissipated are no longer balanced.The best solution to this problem is upgrading to a radiator which has an increased capacity and surface area specifically designed to exceed the factory radiator’s ability to dissipate heat.

If you’ve read this far, I’m sure you’re looking at a solution to your heating woes and wondering how easy this is to perform on your own? I won’t get into too much detail on what’s best for your application, but instead will show you how easy it is to swap one out for a larger item. Trust me on this one, it comes with minimal swearing.

For this article, I have purchased a 42mm Worley Aluminium Radiator off eBay and have used Fridge, a Nissan Skyline R33 GTS-t to guide you through the process.

DIY Skyline Radiator (2 of 14)

Items Required:

  • Aftermarket radiator
  • Premixed radiator fluid OR concentrated radiator fluid & de-mineralised water
  • 2x M6x1.25 12mm bolts (available from most auto stores, or from your shed)


  • 10mm socket & ratchet OR spanner
  • Medium sized phillips head screwdriver
  • A bucket (optional)

Duration: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Low
Profanity Level: Low to Medium

Note: Before attempting this, make sure your car is cold. Last thing you want is to burn yourself with coolant that’s about 90 degrees hot! Best to do it when your vehicle has not been driven for about 3 hours or more.

Step 1:
Jack up the front of your car and safely lower it on jack stands.

DIY Skyline Radiator (3 of 14)

Step 2:
Locate the drain plug and using a Philips head screwdriver remove the drain plug and dump the coolant into a bucket or just on the ground (just don’t let your cat drink it, it might die). To speed things up, pop open the radiator cap and don’t make a mess like me.

DIY Skyline Radiator (4 of 14)DIY Skyline Radiator (5 of 14)

Step 3:
Remove the brackets holding in the radiator.

DIY Skyline Radiator (6 of 14)

Step 4:
Remove the top 2x bolts holding in the shroud.

DIY Skyline Radiator (7 of 14)

Step 5:
Remove bottom radiator hose, top radiator hose and the thermostatic fan switch plug (however leaving the actually thermostatic switch on the radiator),

DIY Skyline Radiator (8 of 14)DIY Skyline Radiator (9 of 14)

Step 6:
Wriggle out the radiator by pushing back on the shroud, please note that the shroud sits on tabs at the bottom of the the radiator

Step 7:
Remove the thermostatic fan switch and the bottom rubber bushes from the old radiator and install onto the new radiator

DIY Skyline Radiator (10 of 14)DIY Skyline Radiator (11 of 14)

Step 8:
Slide the new radiator in, making sure the fan shroud sits on the tabs correctly. This step is a little tricky as your new radiator is much thicker than your stock item and the shroud clearance is less.

Step 9:
Connect up the radiator hoses, plug back the fan switch bolt back the shroud and the top brackets. Please note, with aftermarket radiators you will require machine type bolts for the shroud, as the stock one is made for plastic.

Step 10:
Fill your radiator up with coolant till nearly full, start your car up and let it run.

Step 11:
Crack up the bleed point and let all the air pockets come out, allow the engine to run until the thermostat opens. Continue filling up your radiator till it’s full and there are no more air bubbles coming out of the radiator and the bleed point.

Image: Skylines Australia
Image: Skylines Australia

Step 12:
Close off the bleed point and replace radiator cap and that’s it you’re done!

DIY Skyline Radiator (13 of 14)

Optional: If you fancy, you could spray the top part of your radiator matte black for that added factory look.

DIY Skyline Radiator (14 of 14)

Hopefully now you can ring your car all day around the track without any more water overheating issues! Good luck and tell us below if this guide was of any help!

About Johnny

A typical car nutter that likes to get his hands dirty. Skyline and Silvia fanatic not to mention trak-life's own personal tuner and mechanic. Doesn't mind sparing a few days at the gym to stay fit and definitely likes to eat to keep the balance right.

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  1. So what do I get in exchange for you using my bleed valve picture on your website?

  2. Hi, great article! I’m looking at getting one of these radiators myself. How is it holding up after a few years now?

    • Johnny

      Hey Jeremy, radiator is still going strong and cops a belting every time at the track. I did however changed it to a 67 degree thermostat so there’s a greater operating range before it hits boiling point.

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