Going to replace radiator tank- any experience/tips?
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This is a discussion on Going to replace radiator tank- any experience/tips? within the Maintenance, service, and repair forums, part of the Tutorials & DIY category; I'm getting ready to replace the radiator tank [not the radiator, but the top tank which holds the filler cap] ...

  1. #1
    Registered User DaringVentures's Avatar
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    Unhappy Going to replace radiator tank- any experience/tips?

    I'm getting ready to replace the radiator tank [not the radiator, but the top tank which holds the filler cap] on my '01 WRX, 2.0 turbo. Looking for any heads up/advice on what I'm about to get myself into.

    Background- The filler neck [which holds the cap] blew out. The weld that holds it to the top of the tank came apart. I cold welded [JB weld] the neck back on in June, then put about 6k miles on it until the cold weld gave way. I re-welded it a couple times since, each time holding for a couple thousand miles. The last weld did not take at all, probably because I cut off the base of the neck, as I noticed it was getting seriously deteriorated, thinking I would cold weld the neck directly to the top of the tank... well JB doesn't "stick" of course, it needs something to grip to. So that was a "bust".

    Anyway, the time has come to replace the whole tank.
    Last quote I got on the part was ~$120 and the dealer said the new tank [at least the top of it] is plastic [?!].

    Anybody done this operation before?

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  3. #2
    Registered User oguitar's Avatar
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    The top part comes off easily. That is all you need if I read your post correctly. It would be a whole lot easier just changing the top part of that reservoir. Shouldn't even need a new gasket.

    Good luck.

    If you already have the new tank then it shouldn't be that hard. Will need to burp the system afterwards just to be safe.
    Life is like riding a bicycle in order to keep your balance you must keep moving.

  4. #3
    Registered User DaringVentures's Avatar
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    oguitar-
    Thanks, I should reconsider that option, which was my original thought when I first had the problem.
    Dealer said can't order the lid separately, as the new tanks are all one piece [plastic?!]. Maybe I can get a tank from a salvage yard [surely they won't sell just the lid].

    My concern was that the bolts that hold the lid of the tank on will probably snap as the heads are pretty rusty. The rest of the car/motor is almost mint, so it's funny those bolt heads are rusted.

  5. #4
    Registered User oguitar's Avatar
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    Yeah those bolts like to rust. Shop around you might get lucky. If you are unlucky then I guess the dealer is the only option. I am not sure which reservoir is better the plastic or the metal one. I would say the metal one but I am just guessing.

    I am sure the junkyards will have this part. Good luck.
    Life is like riding a bicycle in order to keep your balance you must keep moving.

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    Hey were you able to change the top tank? I have a crack in the top plastic tank to the right of the radiator cap. I was wondering if someone could provide some pics or steps on how to change the plastic tank. I dont see any of the bolts you guys were talking about that hold the tank on the radiator.

  7. #6
    Registered User DaringVentures's Avatar
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    I successfully [easily] replaced the tank with a new one from the dealership. Unbelievably, they had it in stock. ~$107 +tax. I called every salvage yard and parts store for miles around and they had nil. Most said "No" as soon as I told them I had a WRX, before I even mentioned the part.

    monsta- "a crack"?? Oof... that's why I was hesitant to replace w/ the new plastic, instead of the original metal. How old is your plastic tank? btw- the tank does not connect to the radiator, but to the block/manifold. Sure you're not talking about the overflow tank? The replacement radiator tanks are molded, one-piece, hard black plastic. Overflow tanks are usually white/transparent soft plastic, sit up by the grill next to the radiator, and don't have "radiator caps", but simple plastic caps like a milk jug.

    How to -
    Very easy op. About 20 minutes.
    There are three bolts- 2 are on top, running vertically into the block/manifold. The third is on the passenger's side of the tank, running horizontally and the tab connector on the tank is U-shaped so you don't have to totally remove the bolt [just loosen it].

    There are 4 hoses. The new tank came with one, I think the one that connects to the turbo unit [off the rear of the tank]. 2 smaller hoses connect at the cap neck. The 4th hose comes off the lower, driver's side of the tank and that one was a bit tricky to reconnect the hose clamp to, as there was very little room to work with and little play in the hose.

    Other problem I came across - the downside of aluminum blocks... one of the vertical bolts stripped it's hole a bit when I reconnected. Gotta be very careful and I suggest a bit of lube/oil on the bolts before re-insertion [which I neglected to do at first- doh!]... gently thread them in by hand first then carefully wrench them in. Upside was, the bolts don't enter the coolant system [they're dry connections] as I originally was concerned they might... so no big deal, they just hold the tank on.

    The replacement tank was almost an exact replica of the orig metal tank, same exact connection setup, but no removable bolt-on lid, of course.

    To finish her off, I bled the system very thoroughly for about 45 minutes. Squeezed the main radiator hose a few times during the bleed, added a few ounces of coolant a few times til overflowed from tank neck, kicked the A/C on a few times and revved her up to ~2500 for good measure [that raises the temp and makes the coolant boil-over and opens the stat, did it for only a few seconds each time so as to avoid overheating the block in case there was any air in the system... even a small amounts of air in the sys can heat up sections of the aluminum block and then you're %^*%% of course], topped off the tank [right up to the bottom of the filler neck], put the rad cap back on, let the motor cool down then gave it a little wash-off with garden hose for the coolant that overflowed. Don't wash a hot aluminum block!

    Presto! She's running better than ever. You can imagine my relief at the parts counter when he said he had it in stock... after dinking around with trying to repair the orig metal tank like 6 times to no avail... I told the parts guy "Sold!" before he even told me the price. Sometimes it's best to just let go and move on... out with the old, in with the new. I hope the plastic holds up...

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaringVentures View Post
    I successfully [easily] replaced the tank with a new one from the dealership. Unbelievably, they had it in stock. ~$107 +tax. I called every salvage yard and parts store for miles around and they had nil. Most said "No" as soon as I told them I had a WRX, before I even mentioned the part.

    monsta- "a crack"?? Oof... that's why I was hesitant to replace w/ the new plastic, instead of the original metal. How old is your plastic tank? btw- the tank does not connect to the radiator, but to the block/manifold. Sure you're not talking about the overflow tank? The replacement radiator tanks are molded, one-piece, hard black plastic. Overflow tanks are usually white/transparent soft plastic, sit up by the grill next to the radiator, and don't have "radiator caps", but simple plastic caps like a milk jug.

    How to -
    Very easy op. About 20 minutes.
    There are three bolts- 2 are on top, running vertically into the block/manifold. The third is on the passenger's side of the tank, running horizontally and the tab connector on the tank is U-shaped so you don't have to totally remove the bolt [just loosen it].

    There are 4 hoses. The new tank came with one, I think the one that connects to the turbo unit [off the rear of the tank]. 2 smaller hoses connect at the cap neck. The 4th hose comes off the lower, driver's side of the tank and that one was a bit tricky to reconnect the hose clamp to, as there was very little room to work with and little play in the hose.

    Other problem I came across - the downside of aluminum blocks... one of the vertical bolts stripped it's hole a bit when I reconnected. Gotta be very careful and I suggest a bit of lube/oil on the bolts before re-insertion [which I neglected to do at first- doh!]... gently thread them in by hand first then carefully wrench them in. Upside was, the bolts don't enter the coolant system [they're dry connections] as I originally was concerned they might... so no big deal, they just hold the tank on.

    The replacement tank was almost an exact replica of the orig metal tank, same exact connection setup, but no removable bolt-on lid, of course.

    To finish her off, I bled the system very thoroughly for about 45 minutes. Squeezed the main radiator hose a few times during the bleed, added a few ounces of coolant a few times til overflowed from tank neck, kicked the A/C on a few times and revved her up to ~2500 for good measure [that raises the temp and makes the coolant boil-over and opens the stat, did it for only a few seconds each time so as to avoid overheating the block in case there was any air in the system... even a small amounts of air in the sys can heat up sections of the aluminum block and then you're %^*%% of course], topped off the tank [right up to the bottom of the filler neck], put the rad cap back on, let the motor cool down then gave it a little wash-off with garden hose for the coolant that overflowed. Don't wash a hot aluminum block!

    Presto! She's running better than ever. You can imagine my relief at the parts counter when he said he had it in stock... after dinking around with trying to repair the orig metal tank like 6 times to no avail... I told the parts guy "Sold!" before he even told me the price. Sometimes it's best to just let go and move on... out with the old, in with the new. I hope the plastic holds up...
    Thanks for the update. Yeah I am talking about the the long plastic tank on top of the radiator, where the radiator cap screws into and where you add coolant and where the upper radiator hose goes. Not the overflow bottle. However im very confused as to what you are referring to. I thought the black tank is all plastic so what metal tank are you talking about? Also I dont see and direct connection to the block. Also I cannot find these bolts that you are talking about. I thought that the metal clips had something to do with how the plastic tank is held to the top of the radiator (the actual aluminum part). I read somewhere that you pry the clips/tabs up a little with a screwdriver then the tank should lift off. The replacement tank should come with a o-ring gasket that you out inbetween the plastic tank and aluminum radiator then just bend the clips back down. If its not too much trouble can you take pics and show me what you are talking about? I will also try to post pics tomorrow so you can see exactly what im referring to. We might be on a diff page cause I went to a local radiator shop and they had the top plastic tank for $40. Also I have an 03 wrx so i dont know if it makes a difference

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    After reading your post again i think that we are def talking about two different tanks. I think you are referring to the small tank, the one that is close/infront of the turbo, while im reffering to the black plastic radiator top tank, that is about 3 feet long. Also where the coolant overflow bottle connects to.

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    Better Option- Metal is better than plastic

    We just replaced out radiator with a MISHIMOTO brand and its all metal. Much better than the plastic one that came with the car.

    http://www.mishimoto.com/subaru-wrx-...diator-01.html

    there is a link on the page for installation instructions too.

    We have a 04 impreza wrx wagon.

  11. #10
    Moderator T0rque's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oguitar View Post
    Yeah those bolts like to rust. Shop around you might get lucky. If you are unlucky then I guess the dealer is the only option. I am not sure which reservoir is better the plastic or the metal one. I would say the metal one but I am just guessing.

    I am sure the junkyards will have this part. Good luck.
    If the metal was better they would of not stopped production on it. IMHO they wouldn't of superseded the old metal tank design to the new plastic design if the new plastic design wasn't better.


    Lead Wrench @ WTF Tuning, LLC

  12. #11
    Registered User DaringVentures's Avatar
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    Clarification

    For the sake of understanding -

    The tank I refer to in the original post is the small [~200 cubic inches], mounted on top of the block, holds the radiator cap in an '02 WRX, and is primarily just a vessel for filling the coolant system.
    This is not the radiator itself, which is mounted in front of the block, behind the grill and is where the coolant actually gets cooled via the airflow through it.

  13. #12
    Moderator T0rque's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaringVentures View Post
    For the sake of understanding -

    The tank I refer to in the original post is the small [~200 cubic inches], mounted on top of the block, holds the radiator cap in an '02 WRX, and is primarily just a vessel for filling the coolant system.
    This is not the radiator itself, which is mounted in front of the block, behind the grill and is where the coolant actually gets cooled via the airflow through it.
    Yes we all understand that.. Pretty sure that one above is just someone trying to sell something


    Lead Wrench @ WTF Tuning, LLC

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    Actually no.. I wasn't. I just misunderstood his question is all.

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