Coolant leaks and mineral buildup inside a high mileage radiator in a 1997 Silverado will contribute to raised engine temperatures. Since the unit is fairly accessible, you can perform this weekend repair job yourself in your driveway without using special skills. You will not only restore engine performance but also save on professional repair costs.
M/F Park your Silverado on level ground, walk around the front of your truck and open the hood. Attach an 18-inch clear vinyl hose to the radiator drain valve, if you plan to reuse the coolant you need to empty from the radiator.
M/F Slide a large drain pan under the radiator. Point the vinyl hose attached to the radiator valve to the drain pan. Open the radiator valve and empty the coolant into the pan. Cover the pan to keep the coolant clean, if you plan to reuse it.
M/F Unfasten the upper fan shroud bolts with a ratchet and socket and remove it from the vehicle.
M/F Unfasten the upper insulators and brackets with the ratchet and socket and organize the parts for quick reassembling.
M/F Slide the upper radiator hose clamp toward the engine with a pair of rib joint pliers and detach the hose from the radiator fitting by hand. If the hose seems stuck, wrap a shop rag around the hose end and twist the hose back and forth with the rib joint pliers to break the seal.
M/F Lift the front of you pickup truck with a floor jack and support it with 2 jack stands.
M/F Detach the lower radiator hose following the same procedure described in step 5.
M/F Unfasten any cooler lines attached to the radiator with a line wrench, if your Silverado comes equipped with an automatic transmission. After disconnecting the lines, cover the openings with clean plastic sheets and rubber bands to keep dirt off the system.
M/F Unfasten the lower fan shroud bolts with the ratchet and socket and remove it from the vehicle.
M/F Disconnect the coolant reservoir hose from the radiator with the rib joint pliers.
M/F Unfasten the lower support brackets with the ratchet and socket and carefully lift the radiator out of the engine compartment.
M/F Close the drain valve on the new radiator. Position the new radiator in place and fasten the lower support bracket with the ratchet and socket.
M/F Connect the coolant reservoir hose to the radiator with the rib joint pliers.
M/F Fasten the lower fan shroud and tighten the bolts to 71 inch-pounds (9 Nm) with a torque wrench and socket.
M/F Fasten the cooler lines to the radiator with the line wrench, if your Silverado comes equipped with an automatic transmission.
M/F Attach the lower radiator hose to the fitting and secure it with the clamp using the rib joint pliers.
M/F Attach the upper radiator hose to the fitting and secure it with the clamp using the rib joint pliers.
M/F Fasten the upper insulators and bracket with the ratchet and socket.
M/F Replace the upper fan shroud with the ratchet and socket.
M/F Refill the radiator with the coolant from the drain pan or prepare new coolant with a 50/50 mixture of new antifreeze and distilled water. Pour the coolant through the radiator neck with a funnel and tighten the radiator cap.
M/F Start the engine and allow it to idle for about 15 minutes as you check for coolant leaks. Check that the coolant level is between the "Low" and "High" marks on the coolant reservoir. Add coolant if necessary. Shut off the engine and close the hood.
M/F You can rent a torque wrench from your local auto parts store, if you do not have one available.
M/F When replacing the radiator in your Chevy Silverado, make sure the engine and radiator are cool to avoid serious injuries from boiling coolant.