You wouldn’t keep pounding the pavement or rocking the track without a drink, so why leave your bike to fend for itself in the heat? Keeping up on your coolant should be a routine part of bike maintenance. If your radiator kicks the bucket, whether from a spill or by reaching the end of its recommended lifespan, replacing it is easier than you might think. Find out how to replace a radiator on a motorcycle today and learn some essential tips about replacing coolant and choosing radiators.
Topping Up Your Coolant and Other Maintenance
Just like your oil, fuel and other liquids, it’s always a good idea to check up on your coolant. Find your overflow bottle and be sure it’s always topped up to the full mark. Whatever you do, don’t add your leftover automobile coolant, but choose a motorcycle coolant brand. Whether you’re looking for a bargain brand or the most premium option on the market, don’t try to save money by using dirty coolant or automotive coolant.
Because your bike coolant is ethylene glycol-based without silicates, it isn’t as harsh on your impeller blade as typically car coolant would be. However, even full-strength bike coolant is usually too strong. Most manufacturers recommend a mix of half coolant and half water to keep your bike cooled off.
If you’re replacing your old or damaged radiator, you should completely replace your coolant. Learning how to replace coolant on a motorcycle is easy. Sometimes your coolant is looking rough but your radiator is still going strong. In that case, it’s time to change your coolant. The process is remarkably similar to changing your oil, so grab your toolbox, funnel, drain pain and a new bottle of coolant.
Don’t try to mess with your radiator or coolant if your bike is still hot. A warm radiator could mean scalding coolant, so it’s best to wait until everything is cooled off before getting your hands dirty. Make sure your drain pan is in position under the radiator. Find the drain bolt or, if your bike doesn’t have one, the lowest hose.
Empty all the old coolant into your drain pan and be sure to dispose of it properly. Wipe down your radiator and the drain, then prepare your water and coolant mix. After you’ve tightened the drain bolt, simply use the funnel and coolant to refill your coolant reservoir.
When to Replace a Radiator
If your bike has seen more than its share of dirt roads and cross-country trips, it may be time to replace the radiator. Check the manufacturer’s specifications on your particular model. Some motorcycle radiators last significantly longer than others.
Some obvious signs of a bad radiator are leaks, major dents or an overheating engine. However, like most parts, it’s better to replace it before you start seeing performance issues. Grab an OEM replacement or choose a sweet-looking aftermarket model, but be sure your new radiator is compatible with your bike.
Steps to Replace Your Radiator
Once it’s time to get your hands dirty, be sure you know the best way to replace a motorcycle radiator. Dirt bikes, street cruisers and sportbikes all have slightly different setups, so your first step should be to get acquainted with your own radiator.
Follow the steps for draining and disposing of your coolant. Be sure to remove all the hoses and watch out for any remaining coolant leaking around your bike. Next, find the brackets and mounting bolts that keep your radiator in place.
One issue you’ll want to watch out for is air bubbles in the system. This is natural with a new radiator, but can severely damage it if you try running your system without an air flush. Flush all the air out by starting up your engine without the new radiator installed. Run the engine long enough for the thermostat to open up. This will let out any air that may be trapped.
Next, it’s time to mount your new radiator. To keep it clean and smudge-free while installing, consider using gloves or a work cloth when handling your shiny, new radiator. Wipe off any grime or oils, since these could stain the surface and diminish the awesome look of your aftermarket radiator.
One you have it in position, carefully tighten down all the brackets, replace all the hoses and get ready to fill your brand-new radiator with clean coolant. Don’t try to reuse your old coolant, as it may be full of debris and other contaminants that can ruin your new part, not to mention your engine. Your radiator and coolant are relatively inexpensive components compared to the damage that cruddy coolant or an overheated engine can cause.
You’ll also want to make sure the overflow bottle is clear of any crud. If you aren’t replacing this part as well, you’ll want to flush it thoroughly for a squeaky-clean coolant system. Use your funnel and top off your new radiator with coolant mixture. You’re ready to take your bike for a spin around the block. Keep an eye on your engine heat to be sure your radiator is working properly. Another common issue is minor leaks around the hoses, so consider replacing some hoses or grabbing some extra seals to ensure a professional fit.
Watch out for any unique features of your particular ride. Whether your bike has a single, large radiator, two balanced parts or a unique size and shape of radiator, don’t try to custom-fit a different radiator just because it looks cool. Find an OEM or aftermarket option that’s still designed for your bike and riding style.
Check Out the Latest Aftermarket and OEM Radiators
Now that you know the best way to change motorcycle coolant and your radiator, you’re ready to enjoy the boosted performance and extended lifespan of your bike. Whether you need to conquer a hilly highway or crush an unforgiving dirt racetrack, your new cooling system will protect your engine from overheating and keep your bike performing optimally. Find the best radiator and coolant option for your riding style and bike brand and get ready to ride.