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Old 04-23-2012, 10:29 AM   #1
Doppelganger
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Question Changing the radiator. What else should I change?

My wife and I noticed a small leak coming from the front left (driver's) side of the engine bay. The color and smell seemed consistent with antifreeze, and the upper left side of the radiator was wet. I haven't seen exactly where the crack is, but it looks like I'm going to be replacing the radiator.

My question is, what else should I replace while I'm at it? I'm sure it's time for some preventative maintenance, but I don't want to spend money needlessly, and I don't want to introduce a problem by swapping out a perfectly good OEM part with an inferior aftermarket part.

The car is a 2002 SL2, with a little over 125,000 miles. We've had the car since 2004, so I'm pretty sure everything in the cooling system is original.

Radiator
I'm planning to use the Vista-Pro / Ready Rad 431460.

Upper and Lower Hoses
These seem cheap enough and easy enough to replace. I don't know that there is anything wrong with the old ones, but I'll go ahead and replace them with new Dayco or Gates parts.

Other hoses
The reservoir-to-engine hose looks practically new, so I don't see the point in replacing it.
The pipe-to-tank hose doesn't have a regular clamp on the pipe end. I'm not sure how to replace it.
The heater-to-pipe hose doesn't have a regular clamp on the pipe end, and it's buried back behind the engine, so I'm inclined to leave it alone.
The heater-to-intake manifold hose looks like it wouldn't be too difficult to replace. Any comments?
The pipe-to-water pump hose looks easy enough to replace.
Thermostat
This is my wife's car, so I don't drive it regularly. I'm not sure what the normal operating temp is (either by temp gauge or read from the OBD-II via a Davis CarChip). I need to check this.

If the temperature is where it should be (~3/8 on the gauge, ~180-200F measured temp), does that mean the thermostat is fine? If the thermostat is fine (and assuming it's the original thermostat), should I just leave it alone, or should I go ahead and replace it as a preventative, assuming that the 10-year old thermostat could fail soon?

Transmission cooler lines
Local auto parts stores (NAPA, Advance, AutoZone, O'Reilly) don't appear to carry these, so I would have to order online ahead of time (can't just run out and get them if it turns out I need them). The lines themselves don't seem to be much of a risk for failure. The nut and threads at the radiator look clean, so I'm hoping that some PB Blaster the night before will be sufficient to remove these lines and reuse them. Is there a high risk of breaking/bending these lines when removing them? Should I go ahead and spend the $30 to replace them? What about the plastic clips on the transmission side?

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Old 04-23-2012, 11:07 AM   #2
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Default Re: Changing the radiator. What else should I change?

Just change the radiator. Sometimes the lower transmission cooler line is corroded and will break if you're not careful. Take it loose from the transmission, and remove the radiator, then you can remove it from the radiator while it's more accessable. I have never had a radiator hose go bad on a Saturn S series.

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Old 04-23-2012, 11:44 AM   #3
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Default Re: Changing the radiator. What else should I change?

Most here recommend either the Delphi ($75 on amazon) or Silla radiators. Some people have had other radiators fail fairly early. The thickness and material of the plastic end tanks seems to vary.

FWIW, I replaced my thermostat and the replcement failed in about 3 years. IIRC, my original (OEM?) tstat was still good, I just replaced it because I was replacing the coolant (right after I bought the car)

Pretty sure my hoses are original, too. Car was purchased with 102k miles, now at about 141k.

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Old 04-23-2012, 09:06 PM   #4
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Default Re: Changing the radiator. What else should I change?

I just did a test drive.
  • The coolant temperature started out at 59F.
  • After idling for about 5 minutes, it was up to 163F. Both radiator hoses were still cold.
  • Following a 5 minute drive with some hard acceleration, it had climbed to 174F.
  • The temperature gauge at this point was just above the 1/4 mark.
  • Leaving the engine running, and revving it occasionally, the temperature gauge went up to the 1/2 mark (just a hair over).
  • At this point, the radiator fan kicked on for a short period (<1 minute; ~30 seconds maybe).
  • The coolant temperature peaked at 217F, which I assume corresponds to right before the fan kicked on.
  • Right after peaking at 217F, it dropped down to 205F, which I assume corresponds to the effect of the fan blowing.
  • It then increased a bit to 210F and then 214F, presumably after the fan turned back off.
  • At this point, my wife called me in for dinner, so I shut the car off.

I also looked back at some historical data from a few months ago where the CarChip was logging data. Most of our driving is short trips in town, less than 15 minutes at a time. Looks like the coolant temperature rarely exceeded ~175F for those sorts of trips.

However, I did find a few longer trips of an hour or more with extended driving at 70 mph. Coolant temp was pretty stable at about 170-175F.

Found one trip where the wife drove an hour, made a pit stop, then resumed driving. Coolant temp was about 175F after the first hour (172F when the car was turned off). After the car sat for a few minutes, the temp had increased to 180F when the car was turned back on. She must have made a phone call or something at this point, because she sat idling for about 7 minutes. During this time, the temp increased to 203F. At that point, she got back on the road, so the temp dropped down to its normal 170-175F range.

Looks like when the car starts cold, it takes about 8 minutes to reach the 175F level-off point.

Does this seem like normal behavior for a properly functioning thermostat?

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Old 04-23-2012, 10:57 PM   #5
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Default Re: Changing the radiator. What else should I change?

Sounds like it's running cool. This would be a good opportunity to replace the thermostat.

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Old 04-24-2012, 11:30 AM   #6
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Default Re: Changing the radiator. What else should I change?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doppelganger View Post
I'm planning to use the Vista-Pro / Ready Rad 431460.
I got the recommended Silla from partstrain.com in Dec. for $60 shipped using an online coupon code (google it). Delphi can possibly be had from Amazon and I might have seen it on RockAuto.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doppelganger View Post
Thermostat
This is my wife's car, so I don't drive it regularly. I'm not sure what the normal operating temp is (either by temp gauge or read from the OBD-II via a Davis CarChip).
I would replace with the recommended Stant part. DO a search on these fora.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doppelganger View Post
Transmission cooler lines
AT the VERY least, have them on hand. I don't know if these are the part #'s for your model, but see here.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doppelganger View Post
My question is, what else should I replace while I'm at it? I'm sure it's time for some preventative maintenance, but I don't want to spend money needlessly, and I don't want to introduce a problem by swapping out a perfectly good OEM part with an inferior aftermarket part.
I assume the ECTS has already been replaced. Also, the water pump, if it hasn't been done yet. If you go to do the water pump, you should definitely check the belt, belt tensioner, and idler pulley.

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Old 04-24-2012, 01:39 PM   #7
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Default Re: Changing the radiator. What else should I change?

Okay, you guys talked me out of the Vista Pro / Ready Rad radiator. I just ordered the Delphi from partstrain.com for $69.20 shipped (with 10% off coupon). Their price on the Silla was higher, so this was the best deal I could find.

I was hoping to do the work this Saturday, based on the assumption that I would be picking up in-stock parts from Advance Auto, but now I may have to wait, since I'm not sure how quickly I'll get the new radiator.

I also went ahead and ordered the new transmission cooler lines from RockAuto.

I'm not eager to do it, but I guess maybe I'll go ahead and replace the water pump too, along with the thermostat. I have no indication that the water pump is bad (although I haven't looked at it), but it sounds like it's likely to fail at some point, so now's a good time to do it. I figure I'll get the GMB.

I'll replace the hoses that I'm disconnecting, but I won't do the rest of the heater hoses at this point.

I replaced the belt and the idler pulley just recently. The tensioner seems to be holding up okay. Hopefully it will last a few more years until it's time to replace the belt again.

I haven't replaced the ECTS, as I understand that it's already the brass-tipped one and unlikely to fail.

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Old 04-24-2012, 04:01 PM   #8
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Default Re: Changing the radiator. What else should I change?

Water pumps are like light bulbs, they work until they quit and a new one may not last as long as the one you took off. Buy a new pump and leave it in the box. You can use it when and if the one on the car starts to leak. It is not a fun part to replace.

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Old 04-25-2012, 01:27 AM   #9
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Default Re: Changing the radiator. What else should I change?

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
Water pumps are like light bulbs, they work until they quit and a new one may not last as long as the one you took off. Buy a new pump and leave it in the box. You can use it when and if the one on the car starts to leak. It is not a fun part to replace.
This is not my experience at all. If OP's water pump is the original, then he is on borrowed time with it, IMO. A new pump should be good for upward of 10 years and 100k+ miles. It is not difficult to replace, particularly if one is already doing work and has the cooling system drained. It is a relatively inexpensive part. I say replace it and forget it.

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Old 04-25-2012, 02:00 AM   #10
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Default Re: Changing the radiator. What else should I change?

If it is not broke, don't fix it. The life of the water pump is determined to a large extent by the care and maintenance the cooling system has experienced.

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Old 04-25-2012, 02:14 AM   #11
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Default Re: Changing the radiator. What else should I change?

^^^^^ My water pump had its 15th birthday this month; gotta wonder what role 12+ years of propylene glycol has played (radiator is just now getting around to cracking).

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Old 04-25-2012, 07:15 AM   #12
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Default Re: Changing the radiator. What else should I change?

As far as I know, the cooling system has had Dex-Cool in it for the last 10 years. I have changed it twice; first time in 2006 at 67,000 miles, and again last May (2011) at 115,000 miles. I don't recall seeing any evidence of gel or other gunk in the old antifreeze.

My plan this time is to flush out the Dex-Cool and replace with the yellow Peak Long Life antifreeze.

Especially for those who would be inclined to leave the water pump alone, would this change your opinion at all?

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Old 04-25-2012, 09:47 AM   #13
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Default Re: Changing the radiator. What else should I change?

As you have actually changed the coolant which replaces the depleted corrosion inhibitor I see no justification to replace the water pump.

Be sure to flush thoroughly as there is no way to actually drain the heater core so it will have about 1 quart of whatever the last drain water contains. Use 1 full gallon of 100% antifreeze to provide the proper concentration considering the final mix will be 4 quarts of antifreeze and 3 quarts of water. This will provide boil over protection at atmospheric pressure to 235F.

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Old 04-25-2012, 10:04 AM   #14
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Default Re: Changing the radiator. What else should I change?

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
If it is not broke, don't fix it.
Sometimes that is good advice, but not here, IMO. You seem to indicate otherwise, but I am unaware of early failure problems with known brand aftermarket pumps in reasonably maintained systems.

OP's pump MAY last for some time. But if it failed today, I would say that it was pretty much expected. I bought a car (not my saturn) with 130k on it last year, and promptly replaced the intact water pump on it while I was doing other work. For me, it was a no-brainer.

For $20-$25 and some additional effort (while he already has the cooling system drained), the OP can replace a critical, wearing item that is nearing the end of its expected lifespan, and be virtually guaranteed that he will not have a problem with it for a long, long time.

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Old 04-25-2012, 01:46 PM   #15
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Default Re: Changing the radiator. What else should I change?

If you are curious you can do a search but new pumps do fail and often enough to be a risk in changing out a good pump. To claim that pump change out is an easy task for tool limited individuals is not doing anyone any favors. Removing the 3 pulley bolts is not a trivial task for most people.

In a properly maintained cooling system there is no economic justification for changing out a water pump until leakage is detected. It becomes an exercise in spending money and risking infant mortality early failure.

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Old 04-25-2012, 07:05 PM   #16
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Default Re: Changing the radiator. What else should I change?

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
If you are curious you can do a search
I did. For an example, there is a topic here. (Doppelganger, note that one of the regular posters trashes GMB pumps in that topic.) I've used Cardone several times (and maybe an AC Delco) with absolutely no problems.
Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
but new pumps do fail and often enough to be a risk in changing out a good pump.
Disagree here. As with any part, I think in many cases where you have a new part leak or "failure", there was a question of improper installation. I won't link, but one post speaks of a "failed" AC Delco pump that was scratched up and rusting out of the box, and was installed anyway. How many of these failures occur because of improper gasket installation, contaminated coolant, etc. I am willing to bet that if you asked a quality repair facility how much warranty work they have to do on water pumps, you would find that it isn't much.
Quote:
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To claim that pump change out is an easy task for tool limited individuals is not doing anyone any favors.
I never said that the pump R&R was "easy", with tools or without. It is not particularly hard, either, and doesn't require any special tools that I recall. I don't see anything that OP said that indicates he is short on the tools or mechanical ability to do the job.
Quote:
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Removing the 3 pulley bolts is not a trivial task for most people.
IIRC, you place a screwdriver or something across the bolts so that the pulley doesn't rotate when you break them loose. I imagine there is a description somewhere here, perhaps in the how-to, and there is probably even a note in most repair manuals.
Quote:
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In a properly maintained cooling system there is no economic justification for changing out a water pump until leakage is detected.
If you want to make the argument that the water pump is not an easy repair, then assuming the part isn't expensive, isn't that EXACTLY the type of repair that you want to do as PM, when you are working on a related repair anyway?

As stated, the water pump is a wearing, critical part that has a definite lifespan. It is part of the cooling system... in my life, I've lost one head and a couple of head gaskets due to cooling system issues, one of which was specifically a failed water pump which was known by me to be old and high mileage, and should have been replaced as a matter of PM.

Pumps don't always gently leak or seep either, giving the owner time to schedule a repair. They can fail quickly and significantly.

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Old 04-25-2012, 09:13 PM   #17
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Default Re: Changing the radiator. What else should I change?

Anything on the car can fail quickly without warning. You have yet to justify periodic changing of the pump or providing any evidence that a new pump will last longer than the one that has just been removed. How often should the pump be changed based on your theory? What time interval? Are you suggesting every time the cooling system coolant periodic replacement maintenance is done that the water pump should be replaced? How about all the hoses? Maybe the radiator and reservoir? More radiators have spring the hot tank leak than water pumps have failed. The water pump is not a high failure rate part. There is no equipment history that allows establishing anything like a cost effective time interval for replacement. This is considering all cars. There a couple of car designs that have inadequately designed water pumps and those do fail often enough to consider periodic replacement.

Sticking a screwdriver between 2 bolts to hold the pulley is not a particularly clever technique to hold the pulley as it does not work well at all with a round shank screwdriver and is not significantly better with a square shank screw driver. Once a pulley bolt is rounded off then the job is considerably more difficult to accomplish.

Maybe you would like to goto this thread and explain to the OP how easy is to remove those bolts. http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=179791

They do come right out if you happen to have a 3/8" drive impact wrench with the correctly sized impact socket that has been face ground so as to make full contact on the bolt head.

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Old 04-26-2012, 09:06 AM   #18
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Default Re: Changing the radiator. What else should I change?

My radiator should arrive tomorrow. My transmission cooler lines should arrive today. I already picked up the thermostat and hoses. I have not ordered a water pump, but Advance Auto stocks both the GMB and a remanufactured one, so I can get one at short notice if and when it becomes necessary.

My plan for now is to do just the radiator, thermostat and hoses. (Plus I'll be replacing the ATF fluid and filter.) I can do all that with the car on ramps.

It's not that big a deal to drain the coolant, and since the access to the water pump is through the wheel well, that seems like a separate job. Other than having the coolant out of the system, I'm not sure there's really that much overlap with the other work I'll be doing.

Other posts (including the one Baron linked to) do indicate occasional problems with infant or early failure of replacements. Whether the problem was part quality or installation error is immaterial. I can't predict the former, and I'm not immune from the latter. Since there are testimonials of original water pumps lasting 175,000+ miles, and there is no particular reason to think mine is about to fail, I'll give it a few more years (hopefully).

Tomorrow night I'll pull the car in the garage, change the spark plugs, and spray PB Blaster in a few places. Then Saturday I'll do the radiator, hoses, thermostat, and ATF service.

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Old 04-26-2012, 11:26 AM   #19
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Default Re: Changing the radiator. What else should I change?

The majority of waterpump failures shortly after radiator/thermostat replacement probably have more to do with the lack of coolant maintenance than anything else as most people flush and refill the system when replacing a radiator. When the system is returned to proper configuration the operating temperature and possibly the pressure on the pump seal changes and this is a potential cause of failure. In a properly maintained system this should not be an issue.

Waterpumps are near impossible to collect sufficient failure data to come up with an estimated service life due to the large number of undocumented uncontrolled variables. Low or no corrosion inhibitor will markedly shorten the service life and a true concentration of 50% is the minimum required to have the listed corrosion protection. The Saturn cooling system capacity is 7 quarts. The heater core holds ~1 quart and can not be drained. Unless the system is refilled with 3.5 quarts minimum of 100% antifreeze achieving a 50% final concentration is impossible. Most people will refill with the lower cost 50/50 premix and end up with a 47% final concentration.

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Old 04-26-2012, 09:56 PM   #20
Baron5867
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1994 SC1
Default Re: Changing the radiator. What else should I change?

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
You have yet to justify periodic changing of the pump
I believe I have, at least twice. The pump is a critical, wearing part with a decidedly finite lifespan. Its failure can be highly inconvenient, expensive, and dangerous to the engine. The replacement part is inexpensive, and it is not a terribly difficult repair. Replacement is even more economical when doing related work, such as cooling system or belt train repairs.

**IF** you wish to claim that aftermarket replacement pumps have an unacceptably high failure rate, then your position might have merit. (Of course, this position would be negated by installation of a new dealer part, assuming it is available at a reasonable price.) Where we disagree is with your opinion of aftermarket pumps, and the difficulty of the replacement.
Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
or providing any evidence that a new pump will last longer than the one that has just been removed.
I would have no evidence because none exists. There is always a chance the new pump will fail. Preventative maintenance is all about odds. And I like the odds on a new, quality pump over an 11yo one with 125k miles, enough to replace it as a matter of PM.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
How often should the pump be changed based on your theory? What time interval? Are you suggesting every time the cooling system coolant periodic replacement maintenance is done that the water pump should be replaced? How about all the hoses? Maybe the radiator and reservoir?
If I bought a typical GM used car with 125k for full-time use, in the cooling system alone I would replace hoses, T-stat, ECTS, water pump, pressure cap. I would measure the reported longevity of the OEM radiator, reservior and level sensor against cost and difficulty of replacement. In fact, this is exactly what I did with a 130k car that I bought last year.

In the case of a Saturn, the radiator would indeed go as a matter of PM.

This assumes that I have no record or evidence that these items weren't recently replaced when I bought the car.

If still on the road, cooling system would be flushed/filled after 4-5 years. In the unlikely case that the car is still on the road full-time 4-5 years after THAT (or the car hits 250k miles), with no plans for retirement, then yes, I would replace all of the above again.
Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
The water pump is not a high failure rate part.
I think you would have to break this down by mileage (and maybe by age).
  • Amount of cars with failed OE water pump by 100k miles. Probably low.
  • Amount of cars with failed OE water pump by 200k miles. Probably high.

If these are true, then I would argue that it makes sense to replace the pump as a matter of PM between 100k and 200k miles.
Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
There is no equipment history that allows establishing anything like a cost effective time interval for replacement. This is considering all cars. There a couple of car designs that have inadequately designed water pumps and those do fail often enough to consider periodic replacement.
Is water pump replacement "cost effective" as PM when provided as a dealer service? No.

Is it "cost effective" as PM by a backyard mechanic already doing related work on his car? Yes.
Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
Sticking a screwdriver between 2 bolts to hold the pulley is not a particularly clever technique to hold the pulley as it does not work well at all with a round shank screwdriver and is not significantly better with a square shank screw driver. Once a pulley bolt is rounded off then the job is considerably more difficult to accomplish.
The technique may not be "clever", but it works. I have done it several times on different cars. It is called out in my Haynes manual, and has been used by numerous people in these fora. It is also mentioned in Richpin's video on the topic.

FSM calls for wedging wood between the crank pulley and the water pump pulley, to lock the pulley. I don't see that as being good, or even effective.

I do not recall exactly what tool I used, may have been a screwdriver, ratchet extension, long bolt, other.
Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
Once a pulley bolt is rounded off then the job is considerably more difficult to accomplish.
No argument here. People should take necessary steps to avoid this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
Maybe you would like to goto this thread and explain to the OP how easy is to remove those bolts. http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=179791
I am not sure what that topic's OP was having problems with. It sounds like he was having trouble simply accessing the pulley bolts. Are the pulley bolts really 14mm? I would think they are more like 10mm heads. Post #7 of that topic sounds pretty much like I did it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
They do come right out if you happen to have a 3/8" drive impact wrench with the correctly sized impact socket that has been face ground so as to make full contact on the bolt head.
(???) I got them out by locking the pulley as described, and using the appropriate, basic hand tool to break loose.

It is possible that I had the top mount removed, and possibly even the A/C compressor moved aside.

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