Replacing the Radiator

The MGF radiator is prone to damage and corrosion, probably greatly assisted by the fact that it is much lower to the ground and therefore collects all the dirt and muck that gets thrown up by other traffic. If you see any sign of coolant weeping from the radiator, get it replaced or repaired immediately. With the MGF engine prone to overheating, you cannot afford to take the risk of catastrophic failure of the radiator, because the first thing you will see if your driving is a trail of steam from behind, and then it may too late to prevent the dreaded head gasket failure (HGF).

I was lucky.....stopping at traffic lights, I could see a little steam rising from the front of the bonnet ! Two days later it was leaving a green puddle underneath, but by that time I had been able to get a replacement and was able to fit it straight away.

Click to enlarge Click to enlarge There is an option when getting hold of a replacement radiator - you can use a standard Rover MGF unit or purchase an alternative from somewhere else, such as Mike Satur, who is currently selling a "uprated radiator" that will fit all models with or without air-con (dual fans), and has a capacity of over 1.5 times that of the standard version. I filled the new MS radiator with 2.1 times the amount that would go in my old one, but that could have been due to the old one containing a lot of sludge. This version is physically bigger and is therefore a much tighter fit within the space available.

Before you start, be aware that the refilling and bleeding of the coolant system is critical and requires care to ensure that all the air is removed and that coolant is circulating properly. For further details on refilling and bleeding the system, go to Fitting new underfloor heater pipes. It is also well covered on other web sites, so if you need details of where the various bleed screws are and hints on the bleeding process, have a look at...........

Dieter's Site
HGF diagnosis

Removing the radiator.

  • Remove the spare wheel.

  • I have heard that it is possible to replace the radiator without removing the front bumper valance, but I suspect that it is a far more difficult way of doing it, especially if you are working on your own. Whilst the Service Manual suggests, through it's diagrams, that you need to raise the front end of the vehicle AND remove the road wheels, I found that it was quite easy to do it leaving the wheels on, but just undo some of the screws before raising the car on ramps.

    Click to enlarge Remove both the direction indicators. If you look at the indicator lenses, you will see a small recess on the innermost corner. Using a small flat bladed screwdriver, release the retaining clip by pushing the clip in towards the indicator itself.

    Click to enlarge Disconnect the multi-plugs and remove the indicators.

    Click to enlarge If you are going to raise the car onto ramps, you need to undo 3 screws in each of the front wheel arches. Turn the steering onto hard lock, and on the wheel arch where the wheel's leading edge is pointing inwards, undo the two visible screws that hold the leading edge of the wheel arch liner to the front valance.

    Click to enlarge Push back the liner where the valance meets the wing, and you will see a third screw that holds the end of the valance to the wing. Remove this screw.

  • Turn the steering onto the opposite hard lock, and remove the three screws from the other side.

  • The ends of the valance should still be supported by a 4th hidden screw, but be careful that as you drive the car up onto the ramps, the valance is not drooping and liable to catch on the ramps.

  • Alternatively, if you are using car jacks, simply raise the car, support on the jacks, and repeat the steps above.

    Click to enlarge Once the vehicle is raised, you will be able to see up inside the bumper valance, into the area in front of the wheel arches. Undo, but do NOT remove the screws that hold the valance to the wings. Leaving these screws in place will help to support the valance as you undo the remaining fixings, and also when you come to refit it.

    Click to enlarge Remove the 5 screws that secure the bumper valance to the bonnet-locking panel.

    Click to enlarge Remove the 2 bolts that secure the valance to the bumper armature. These can be seen through the direction indicator housings

  • Now gentle remove the ends of the valance off the two supporting screws and remove the valance completely.

    Click to enlargeClick to enlarge Undo and remove the 7 bolts on top and the 2 nuts at the front that secure the bonnet-locking panel. There is no need to remove the two smaller sized bolts that hold the lower keep plate of the bonnet lock.

  • Neither is there a need to undo the bonnet release cable - just place the bonnet-locking panel out of the way on top of the spare wheel space.

    Click to enlarge Drain the cooling system. Do this by un-doing the clip on the right hand rubber hose (viewed from the front of the car) where it fastens on to the front end of the underfloor coolant pipes. Choose this pipe since it feeds to the bottom of the radiator and will therefore let it drain completely (well, ....almost!)

  • The coolant capacity is 10.5 litres so you need a container (old washing up bowl?) that can hold this quantity, even though not all of it may drain out. Make sure the container is clean before you start since you may wish to reuse the coolant. The coolant will gush out once you separate the pipes, so keep the container as high as possible.

    Click to enlarge If the hose clips are of the standard Rover self-sprung type, they are most easily undone if you can use a multi-position waterpump pliers or something similar.

  • Now undo and remove both clips and pipes from the radiator itself.

    Click to enlargeReaching up from below, unclip the electric fan multiplug connector. NB: If your car has Air Conditioning, disconnect the multiplug connectors from both fans.

  • Lift the radiator upwards and remove from the car.

    Click to enlarge Wipe clean any spillage of coolant that occurs on the car. You may also need to remove and clean out the lower rubber mountings, since if they are anything like mine where, they were full of flaked bits from the radiator fins.

    Click to enlarge Remove the 3 nuts securing the fan/s to the radiator/s.

  • If you are using the uprated radiator from Mike Satur, then you will need to position the radiator in the car before re-fitting the fan. However, if you have opted to use a standard Rover replacement radiator, you can now attach and secure the fan to the new radiator, and skip the following steps.

    Click to enlarge With the Mike Satur radiator loosely in the car, position the bottom edge towards the rear of the compartment (not located in the mounting rubber grommets) and lean the top edge forward.

  • Feed the fan down through the gap and locate it on the 3 mounting screws. Fit the nuts and tighten to 3Nm.

  • Now locate the lower radiator mounting pins into the rubber grommets, making sure that it is fully seated.

    Click to enlarge Refit the coolant pipes. If you are using stainless steel hose clips with screw adjusters, make sure that the screw-threads are accessible from under the car, since you will not be able to access them from the top once you replace the bonnet locking plate.

  • Before you forget, refit the other end of the coolant pipe to the underfloor coolant pipes.

  • Refit the bonnet locking plate, locating the radiator pegs into the mountings. Fit and tighten all the nuts and bolts to 10Nm.

  • Check that the bonnet still closes.

  • Refit the multiplug connector/s to the fan/s.

  • Refit the bumper valance. To do this, locate and support the outer ends onto the 2 screws that were undone but left in the wings. Then fit the 5 screws across the front of the bonnet locking plate, and then the 2 bolts that fit through the indicator recesses, tightening these to 25 Nm.

  • Refit the upper wheel arch screws that fasten the valance to the wings, and also tighten the screws that are up inside the wings.

  • Drop the car off the ramps or axle stands.

  • Now refill the coolant and bleed the system. For further details on refilling and bleeding the system, go to Fitting new underfloor heater pipes.

  • Once you have bled the system thoroughly, let the engine warm up to normal temperature and check for leaks.

  • Keep a more-than-normal check on the coolant level and for leaks until you are satisfied that all is okay.