Whether your old radiator won’t hold pressure, leaks constantly, or you just need something better to accommodate a larger engine, there are lots of reasons to replace it. Follow the steps below to learn how to install a new radiator on your 1965-1966 Mustang in about an hour and a half.
In the steps below, we’ll show you how to install the ACP MaxCore Radiator. It’s a direct factory replacement, but it has larger aluminum cores that help it dissipate heat better. We’ll be able to reuse the factory hardware to bolt it into its original location. It also maintains the factory connection locations for the automatic transmission cooler.
Step 1: Make Sure Radiator Is Cold
Wait for the radiator to get cold before you drain the fluid. If it’s hot, it might still be under pressure and could cause harm or injury.
Step 2: Drain Radiator Fluid
Place a bucket or container below your radiator. Then, either remove the lower radiator hose or open the petcock at the bottom of the radiator to drain the coolant.
Step 3: Remove Upper Radiator Hose
Unscrew the hose clamp on the upper radiator hose, slide it down, and pull the hose off the radiator. Tuck the hose out of the way for now.
Step 4: Remove Transmission Lines
Once the fluid is completely drained, remove the two transmission lines at the bottom of the radiator. There should be one on each side. Use your screwdriver to loosen the hose clamps and remove the hose.
Pro Tip: If your transmission lines or radiator hoses are worn and brittle, now’s a good time to replace them.
Step 5: Remove Radiator Bolts
Use your 1/2" socket to remove the four radiator bolts. There are two on each side at the top and bottom of the radiator. Hold on to the bolts for later.
Step 6: Lift Radiator Out
Once the bolts are out, grab the radiator on each side and pull it straight up to remove it from the engine bay.
Step 7: Replace Lower Radiator Hose (Optional)
If you’re not replacing the lower radiator hose, you can skip this step. Otherwise, with the radiator out of the way, loosen the hose clamp and remove the lower radiator hose from the water pump. Place hose clamps on the new hose and slide it onto the water pump before tightening.
Step 8: Remove Radiator Fan (Optional)
If your radiator is thicker than the original, you may need to remove the radiator fan to get it to fit. To remove the fan, simply unscrew the four bolts in the center of the fan blade using your 1/2" socket and slide the fan off.
Step 9: Install New Radiator
Slide the new radiator into place and use the four bolts from Step 5 to secure it.
Step 10: Check Fan Spacer (Optional)
Make sure there will be enough space for the fan between the water pump pulley and the new radiator. If you need more space, you’ll need to replace the fan spacer with a shorter one. To remove the fan spacer, gently pry it off the pulley using your screwdriver.
Step 11: Reinstall Transmission Line Fittings
You can reuse the original transmission line fittings from your old radiator or install new ones. Apply some sealant on the threads and carefully tighten them down with your 3/8" ratchet.
Step 12: Reinstall Transmission Lines
Slide the transmission lines back onto their fittings. Tighten the hose clamps to secure them.
Step 13: Reattach Lower and Upper Radiator Hoses
Slide the lower and upper radiator hoses back onto the radiator and tighten the hose clamps.
Step 14: Install Overflow Hose
Slide the overflow hose onto the nipple on the side of the neck. Then, slide the hose between the two clamps on the side of the radiator. Lightly press down on the clips to secure it in place.
Step 15: Install Fan Spacer and Cooling Fan (Optional)
If you had to choose a smaller fan spacer, attach it to the water pump pulley. Reattach the cooling fan by sliding it onto the spacer and tightening down the four bolts from Step 8.
Step 16: Add Coolant and Attach Radiator Cap
Refill your radiator with coolant and seal it up with your radiator cap.
Considerations for Your Radiator Install
Your installation may be slightly different based on the radiator and accessory components you choose. Whether you’re sticking with factory replacements or upgrading, this guide should give you a basic understanding of the overall process. Just be sure to follow any instructions from the manufacturer of the parts you buy.
Old radiators can leak, fail to hold pressure, or just not provide enough cooling power for larger engines. Learn how to install a new radiator on your 1965-1966 Mustang by following the steps in this guide.