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I'm now on third attempt to find a radiator to actually install in my 96 Grand Caravan, 3.3. (no tow package so outlet on passenger side). The first one, from Advance Auto, was damaged by none other than UPS, they have experience at that. The second radiator, from my dependable local retailer, had a manufacturing anomaly that made it not fit because of a 3/8 inch mistake. The third one looks like a charm....almost.

The bottom of the OEM radiator has two flat metal tabs which the fan assembly rests on. On the OEM rad, those little tabs extend about an inch from the rad surface. They are fastened to the bottom of the rad with a weld. On the replacement, there's a funky system to squeeze a folded piece of metal into a slot on the bottom of the rad, but to do so requires crushing the cooling fin a bit and it really doesn't want to go in there regardless. Worse, these don't extend out half as far as the OEM, so I doubt they'd serve any purpose. I'm inclined to ignore them, ie, leave them out in reassembly.

Does anyone know just how desperately vital these little tabs are? There are several bolts attaching the fan assembly to the radiator and that's supported and bolted well of course. Isn't that enough? What purpose do these tabs serve? Should I worry about consequences if I don't use these funky folded clips?

BTW, the advice by a previous poster doing this job says the lower bolt on passenger side on front of the a/c condenser needs a 10mm ratcheting box wrench. That's pretty much true, but I managed with small hands and a wrench with a slight offset to do without. Removing the fans to make more space for the rad/condenser to move rearward does help significantly.

Thanks for any input.
 

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I recently did the radiator on my '96 GC and I remember those tabs. On my replacement (from AAP) I put the new tabs on the bottom but I couldn't get the top to fit right. It was like the fan shroud was a bit too tall. I used plastic ties to secure the top but like you said, I think it woukd be fine just with the bolts.
 

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Buy OEM from the dealer. That's what I did when the NAPA and Autozone radiators would not fit. And the dealer was $40 cheaper.
 

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I bought mine from O'Reilly and had to cut the plastic frame on one side to make it fit. It worked. This was at mignight Sunday and couldn't return it.
 

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There are clip extenders on the OEM radiator that probably are supposed to be transferred to the new aftermarket piece. I have an OEM radiator in the garage and I'll try to snap a picture tomorrow. The extenders basically look like an S shape, but turned sideways. That allows the bottom of the fan flange to drop in far enough away from the radiator to prevent contact.

Transferring those clips has the potential to cause blood on the fingers :( and I did not even bother on my son's 98 Caravan. I let the fan flange hang over the clips and as others have mentioned, the screws are going to hold everything in-place anyhow. Sometimes I think there are certain items put there to assist in the robotic assembly of the vehicles. Perhaps having the clips provides a means of lining up the bolt holes with no human visual interaction required.
 

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Not sure if it's the same style or not, but when I did the radiator on my '90 Grand Caravan with the 3.3, I got it from RockAuto for like 75 bucks......probably one of the easiest jobs I did on that van, I think it took me an hour and a half, but that included putting in a tranny cooler also.......fit perfect and no issues since.......
 

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It is the generation 3 vans (1996-2000) that seem to be the tougher ones to replace. The older ones were very easy and you spent more time on draining and refilling than making the actual swap. The easiest one I ever did was my 86 Voyager because it had a seperate oil cooler. The radiator was small and it took 20 minutes to R&R including drain and refill.
 

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To MoldyOldy....I also have a 90 GCV, and have replaced that radiator too. As John says, the next generation vans are tougher. Two reasons that I can see: the 96 radiator is a lot larger, and the engine room is much tighter than in the "cavernous" 1990. For 96, they sloped the windshield, presumably to make it more aerodynamic, with the result being that the engine bay is cramped. Good thing these engines are solid and reliable.

To John Wood: I had the same thought about the clips being there to assist in factory assembly. I'll look again at the clips for the extenders you mentioned, but I'm pretty sure they are welded in place.

Thanks everyone for the responses. I'll just let the bolts do the job, forget those clips.
 

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For what it is worth, here are some pictures of the OEM radiator bottom clips and those clip extenders:





 

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Very useful pictures John, I appreciate your effort to shoot and send them. Many thanks.

Yes, this is exactly what I've got too on the OEM radiator. The replacement radiator does not have the piece attached to the bottom of the radiator, the piece on which you show the clips . It's that attached piece that moves the clips out half an inch or so, as your pictures illustrate perfectly. Instead on the replacement, the clips which you show held by your pliers are - I guess anyway - supposed to slip into slots which are part of the bottom of the radiator, so that they are not as far out from the plane of the radiator cooling fins. For that reason, I don't think they'd be in the correct position to hold the fan assembly even if I did get them in the slots.

I'm not worried about that. The fan assembly bolts are tight, and I'll make a point to recheck them periodically. If there's going to be a problem, I'll probably catch it before it amounts to much.

Sure do appreciate your help John, thank you.

As I mentioned above, the bolt that's most difficult to access is not really as difficult as a previous poster indicated, at least once I figured it out. That previous thread from a couple years ago offers some helpful hints on this particular job, and mostly he suggests that a 10 mm ratcheting wrench is essential to remove and replace one bolt which holds the radiator to the condenser. It's located on the passenger side, up close to a heavy structural member, the bumper I guess you could call, just behind the flexible bumper cover. Designers could have thought about that and shaped the heavy steel such that any socket and extension could slip right in, but instead they left it just slightly out of reach for a socket and swivel combo. Thanks guys.....

What I learned was that even without having the fan assembly removed, simply having the fan/condenser assembly lifted and moved rearward, I had adequate space to slip one hand in to start the bolt and then tighten it with an offset 10mm wrench. Sure a ratcheting wrench might have saved a few seconds and been just a bit less tedious, but if you don't have one, it's not necessary IMHO. Unfortunately I learned that only on the reassembly, so it was a skin scraping struggle to get the bolt off at first. In retrospect, I know now that it's possible to just lift the radiator and condenser an inch to clear the rubber mounts at the bottom, swing the driver side rearward, and it will be less hard than previously described.
 

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gmrt - Yeah, I know what you mean.....my wife has the first gen Honda minivan,when they still had the 4 cylinders and regular car doors in the back, and the way they raked the windshield on the thing, half the engine is underneath the windshield....no such thing as an "easy job" on that thing, and from what I've heard, they only got worse.....I have no idea how the dealers do half of what they do....I saw a pic of an Audi A6 in the shop for new timing belts, and they literally had to strip the front clip off to the point of being an engine sitting in the frame rails.....yeah, superior German engineering, alright......and not for anything, but if I you expect people to shell out that kind of cash for those things, you'd think they could pop for the extra what? 5 bucks and go for a chain instead of a belt????
 
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