Brera Radiator swap advice please - Alfa Romeo Forum
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Help Brera Radiator swap advice please

My 3.2 Brera has developed a coolant leak that manifests itself as a puddle of pink liquid under the right front of the car as it is parked overnight. I have only recently noticed this as the under engine plastic panel has not yet been re-fitted after I swapped the LH lower suspension arm and I think the coolant has been soaked up by the sound insulation on the panel.

My question is. has anyone swapped a radiator themselves and if so, are there any pitfalls?

Do I need to pull the entire front of the car off to get at it and will I need to disturb the aircon or oil coolers?

I'm surprised how cheaply you can buy a radiator, just about 100 seems to be the norm. This is obviously not a genuine Alfa part, but in this day and age, pattern parts are pretty good.
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Well, despite the pages of posts that I didn't get with advice on doing this job I decided to go for it. For anybody interested in doing the same, here's how;-

This is a big job, it took me 4 hours on my drive with a comprehensive tool kit and some specials like male torx sockets. You will also need a gallon of anti freeze, some power steering fluid, 2 x 50mm Jubilee clips and a 30mm jubilee clip. Some cable ties might be handy too. I have a V6 Q4 and some of these operations might not be required or might be slightly different.

Total cost was about 130.00, I have heard stories of the best part of 1000.00 at a main dealer!!!

REMEMBER, THIS ADVICE IS WORTH EXACTLY WHAT YOU PAID FOR IT. If you bugger your Bella, it's not my fault.

1. Remove the plastic undertray. Lots of torx screws that can be rusted in place and self tappers. I had to drill out 2 bolts and re-tap for bigger ones.

2. Detatch the inner plastic wheel arches from the bumper. It's actually easier to do this with the wheels removed, but a lot of faff for 6 self tappers.

3. Remove the bumper. This is held in with 4 screws at the top and is clipped to the wings. you have to be a bit brutal to snap the clips open. The bumper then slides forward on some plastic guides. You will also need to un-plug the fog lights.

4. Remove and un-plug both headlights. You have to do this to achieve the next step.

5. Remove the bonnet slam panel after first removing the cable to the sensor on the top (not sure what the sensor does?). 2 screws at each side, 2 at the front and big nuts onto the chassis legs. With it detached, you can put it on top of the engine with the bonnet release cables still attached.

6. Remove the alternator cooling fan and plastic pipe. There is an electrical connection to this and a couple of clips that hold the wire to the radiator assembly. There are also some small screws that go into the RHS of the engine radiator. This item might not be fitted to cars other than the V6.

7. Remove the engine air intake pipe.

8. Remove the mass air sensor pipe from the air intake system. to do this, you need to remove 2 screws from the "thingy" on the side and then crack the 2 big clips that hold the pipe in place. (You can do this with a small flat blade screwdriver). You are doing this to get access to the next step.

9. Messy job now, but essential. Detatch the power steering return hose from the reservoir. (top hose) Oil will pee out all over the place so have rags and a small glass jar handy. To get the hose off, you might need to destroy the stainless clip that holds it in place. When it's stopped leaking, you can remove the clip that holds it to the outlet pipe that was covered by the MAF (step 8.). Ferret the pipe out from behind all of the other pipes and release the 2 plastic clips, one on the top of the radiator and one in front of the radiator.

10. Un-screw the power steering oil cooler from the air con rad. (one small screw at the top) This will allow you to move the steel pipe that covers the top of the radiator and using the flexibility of the lower rubber pipe, you can get the cooler well out of the way.

11. Detatch the air con radiator. BE CAREFUL!!! If you disturb this it will cost you. There are 2 nuts at the bottom, once removed, tease out the studs that are located in slots in the plastic part of the engine rad. I had to bend the tabs on the air con rad a little to get them out. I did this so that there was no chance of them damaging the air con rad at a later point. The air con rad can now be slid down out of the clips in the main rad and pulled forward into the space left after removing all the crap above.

12. Detatch the fan pack from the back of the radiator. This is held in with 2 nuts at the top. Again, tease out the studs from the radiator and save them.

13. I have a V6 and the clearance to the engine is very small. I found it necessary to remove the front multi plug from the ECU next to the battery to increase space. This might not be required on other models.

14. Time to get brutal. The top hose on the RHS of the rad is held onto a plastic elbow with a one use stainless clip. You are supposed to remove the elbow from the radiator but in the limited space that you have, trust me, this is impossible! I resorted to cutting the stainless clip with tin snips and pulling the top hose off. Remember your drip tray or your feet will get wet!

15. The bottom hose on the other side is exactly the same only harder to get at. have fun!

16. Finally, the radiator will be free from the car and you should be able to wiggle it up and out.

17. With the rad on the drive, you need to swap stuff to your new rad. Remember those plastic elbows? remove them by squeezing the stainless clips in and pulling the elbow off. To do this, I had to stand on the radiator, squeeze the clips in with pipe grips and get my 76 year old dad to pull the elbows off. Once removed, I greased mine with silicone grease that plumbers use on taps and snapped them onto the new rad. There is a little anti rotation lug to make sure you get them in the right place. Swap all 4 mounting spikes, they simply snap off using a dovetail arrangement. Pop the two lower rubbers on the rad and she is good to go.

18. As all the good books say, replacement is the reverse of removal. Don't fit the metal studs to the radiator till it is in the car, this will prevent any chance of you damaging the air con rad.

19. The destroyed hose clips can be replaced with good old jubilee clips, as can the power steering hose. If you managed to destroy some of the plastic cable and hose clips, these can be replaced with cable ties, unless you fancy a trip to a main dealer.

On assembly, it's a great opportunity to clean all those places that harbour road filth, grease components and spray the lot with WD40.

Don't forget to top up the power steering fluid and add coolant. When full, crack up the motor and let it get hot to make sure that there are no leaks. Keep topping up the fluids till all is correct. Take the car for a gentle thrash and check the levels again.

That's about it, have fun.
Status: a good shot of nitrous will sort that!
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Join Date: May 2008
Location: United Kingdom
County: Essex
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Wow yes that is a mamouth job, I did see your post but as we have different engines I may have caused more confusion than help so I didn't post sorry, but good to see you got it all sorted.
If only Alfa could have designed the rad to just slide out from above on a couple of screws aye!

"Gentle thrash!" lol love it.
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