Radiator Support Buyer's Guide
- A radiator frame is a large metal framework with circular and rectangular holes that hold the radiator in place.
- Damage to radiator supports are often caused by frontal collisions.
- Radiator supports have different parts, such as the upper tie bar, side panel, low crossmember, radiator frame, and center braces.
- Replace your radiator support to avoid possible coolant leaks and maintain a healthy radiator.
- Purchasing Individual parts of the radiator support can range from $30 to $1,300. A set of 2 is roughly $90 to $680, a kit is roughly $540 to $2,500, and a set of 3 is roughly $130 to $540.
- Installing your radiator support replacement on your own is easy if you have the tools and know-how.
Combustion engines need radiators to keep it from overheating. The radiator is located in front of the engine and is mounted to the car using a front radiator support. The radiator support is a reinforcement, typically made out of metal, designed to house the radiator, as well as other cooling components of the car.
What is a radiator support?
The radiator support is a large black frame with round and rectangular cutouts. It holds the radiator in place. It is also where the radiator cover is mounted on. If you have to replace the radiator support, you will need to remove the headlights, grille, bumper, and header panel before you can remove it from the engine compartment.
Aside from securing your radiator in place and preventing damage due to excessive vibrations, this metal bracket also attaches your radiator to the side aprons and the upper and lower rails of your engine assembly frame. It keeps the radiator near your engine, which ensures that the coolant is pumped thoroughly in the engine, but far enough to protect it from the extreme heat produced by the engine's operations. Also, by locking down your radiator in place, a radiator core support helps keep the rest of your auto components aligned particularly your fenders and hood.
What causes a radiator support to break?
Due to its location, radiator supports are very prone to damage caused by frontal collisions. Bumping into another car or any object on the road, as well as hitting a bump hard, can end up bending the radiator support. A broken radiator support has the tendency to wrap itself around the radiator, causing the coolant to leak.
Do all radiator supports come as a single unit?
You can find some cars with a radiator support consisting of different parts like the upper tie bar, side panel, lower crossmember, the actual radiator frame, and center braces.
Upper tie bar
This is a radiator support bar that secures the top portion of the radiator assembly.
The brace that attaches the radiator support to the side frame. It consists of the driver and passenger side panels.
This is a bar that holds the bottom portion of the radiator support.
The rectangular cut-out or window that encases the radiator assembly.
These are beams that connect the upper tie bar to the lower crossmember. It supports the radiator assembly from being thrown forward during a rear-end collision.
Importance of replacing a broken radiator support
A broken radiator support could lead to an array of problems when not dealt with properly. For example, ignoring a bent radiator support can sometimes lead a radiator leak and eventually to the engine overheating from the lack of coolant. The damage could also affect neighboring components like the condenser, electric harnesses for the headlights, and the cooling fan system.
Frontal collisions can bend the radiator support bars easily, which degrades the supporting frame’s ability to hold the radiator in place. The radiator mount becomes loose and may possibly result in coolant leaks. You also need to check if there is a presence of rust build-up, as it could affect the durability of the metal frame in the long run.
If you're a big fan of off-roading, it's highly advised that you make sure you have a durable radiator support in your engine bay. That's because all that vibration in your engine bay caused by countless road irregularities makes it easier for your radiator to disconnect from your ride. With a hardwearing and rigid upper and lower radiator support, you can be sure that your radiator will stay in place no matter how bad the road conditions get.
How much is a radiator support?
Prices for an OE radiator support replacement varies depending on the part design and construction along with the year make and model of your vehicle. If your radiator support consists of different parts, you will need to consider what part location needs replacement. Radiator support replacement cost ranges from around $30 to roughly $2,500, from a center brace to a complete kit.
If you’re looking for a certain part for a single piece radiator support assembly, prepare to dole out around $30 to $1,300. Meanwhile, a set of two like side panels and braces is priced around $90 to $680. If you need to replace the whole radiator support assembly, there are kits that are available from $540 to $2,500.
How to install radiator support
The radiator support is a metal frame welded to the vehicle that keeps the radiator in place. If it's damaged, the radiator will not be stabilized, and your car will overheat. If radiator support repair is no longer viable, this guide will teach you how to replace the component.
What you'll need:
- New radiator support
- Axle Stand
- Work table
- Socket wrench
Step 1: Open your car's hood. Then, disable your car's electrical system. Use your wrench to unhook the battery's negative or black cable.
Step 2: With your socket wrench, unscrew the bolts securing the plastic pieces under the radiator support first. Then, place the axle stand below the radiator support, so it won't fall.
Step 3: Remove the bolts holding the bumper in place. You can ask someone to help you because the bumper is heavy.
Step 4: Disconnect all wires and cables attached to the radiator support. Remove the wiring at the lower side, the cables for the hood release, and the electrical sensors for the hood and airbag system.
Step 5: Remove the bolts connecting the power steering mechanism to the radiator support.
Step 6: To fully remove the radiator support, unscrew the two bolts at the top. Once they're unscrewed, you can easily remove the radiator with the fan assembly. Place the radiator and fan assembly on the work table.
Step 7: Before you can install the new radiator support, you have to unfasten the latch from the old one first. Unscrew the bolts securing the old support, and screw them back in place on the new one.
Step 8: Once the new radiator support is secured, put the radiator and fan assembly back.
Step 9: Connect the wires and cables. Then, reattach the bumper. Your car now has a new radiator support!