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85 Vette Radiator Replacement Questions, Request Advice

RedHot85Vette

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Feb 20, 2016
Messages
65
Location
Owego, NY
Corvette
1995 Red Corvette (C4, L98)
Good Day to All! I hope All are enjoying a pleasant day.

I have a very Base/Stock 1985 Corvette. Very Rare in that it has only 1 purchased option, Cruise Control. The car was previously owned by a senior citizen. All the parts are Genuine GM AC Delco. He gave me a spare drivers side GM Muffler because the one on the car was going bad. I bought it Feb 20, 2016. Went to the hospital for back surgery (13 fusions). and just started driving it now. I don't think I put 50 miles on it.

My radiator sprung a leak. Aside from that I need a light bulb under the hood, and one in the passenger door. My Tach works intermittently. Just another note about my car being bone stock. I don't see many Vettes without leather seats. Mine are cloth. Very Comfy and they don't crack and split apart. I don't have Power Door Locks. I've never seen a Vette without Power Door Locks. I used to think they were standard items, not options. Most of the Vettes I see have the Glass Tops. Not mine, but I'm glad, the glass tops I see usually have cracks or something else wrong with them. I had to replace the hood assist pistons, $20 bucks. The car was professionally repainted 2 years ago and hasn't a single mark on it. Paid $5000. It's perfect for me. Low to the ground, no fenders to bend over. My back is shot and it's like a totem pole. I always wanted a Vette. It's kinda odd how I ended up getting one, but it's the Perfect car for me, maybe the only car for me. And having a mechanical old car and jalopy repair background, I'll still be able to tinker with this simple car.

Short Story: Corvette Radiator leak & Suzy's Black Pepper Repair

My wife says to me, "I'll be right back", after the manager of the Monro shop we were at gave us a quote over $600 dollars to replace the radiator. I know from reading the repair manual that it looks easier to replace the radiator than a headlight. No exaggeration. So my wife went to the plaza next door, and comes back with 2 gallons of 50/50 coolant, and one of them small boxes of black pepper, with the white shaker/pourer lid on top. She says she saw her father do this when she was a little kid. She pours the black pepper into the radiator, then tops it off with coolant. We run the engine with the cap off to get the air out. Then when it starts to overflow we put the cap on. Well donchaknow! That leak stopped right up. Drove it home about 13 miles, left it running at the house to check it out... no leak. I'm going to replace the radiator anyway. I will always have a small box of black pepper and a jug of 50/50 coolant in my car.


  • Can I replace the standard radiator with a heavy duty radiator without modifying anything?
  • Just what is the difference between the standard radiator and the heavy duty one?
  • I've seen 2 row, and 3 row radiators, Is a 3 row considered heavy duty? is one different in size than the other?
  • I've also seen all aluminum racing radiators, the description sounds great, are they worth buying? but most of all I'm concerned about fitment, I don't want to have to modify anything, take out the old, stick in the new, baddabing! (Amazon says it will fit) Amazon Racing Radiator
  • Here's the RockAuto, cheapest radiator I can find, what are your thoughts? (I was unable to make a link to the catalog item so it's under 1985 Corvette: APDI/PRO 8010829 / $85.79 + Shipping
  • What do you think of the Safety Release radiator caps?
  • Any advice or recommendations will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

John :pat
 

hcbph

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 30, 2013
Messages
260
Location
Minneapolis, Mn.
Corvette
86 Red Convertible
John

All I can say regarding radiators is what I've read and suggest you do searches to track that down. If your car is not modified I suspect you would be just fine with the original configuration radiator if it's doing the job. Most references though are using larger capacity radiators. One common thread I remember is that many have had to make modifications to the mounting pads in the corners many times. There are those that swear by 'all aluminum' radiators and there are some that swear by the plastic capped originals, just depends on what you want. There is also a large spread in the cost between materials and size.

On the question of 'safety caps', I assume you're referring to those that have the release lever on the top. I had one once on a car and while in the middle of 'no where', it opened while I was driving. Got really spectacular very quickly. Pre cellphone days, 20+ miles from the nearest town on a county 2 lane highway. Luckily I had an empty antifreeze jug in the car and found a farm house about 1/4 mile away. No one was home but they had a spigot on the outside that was turned on so I was able to get water. It took multiple trips but eventually I got enough water to get back on the road. In my case, I'll never own one again.

Hope that helps.

Paul
 

RedHot85Vette

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 20, 2016
Messages
65
Location
Owego, NY
Corvette
1995 Red Corvette (C4, L98)
John ...I'll never own one again. Paul

I can so totally see me in your shoes with that radiator cap experience... I had such a crystal clear vision of me as you. Your cell phone probably wouldn't work out there anyway... or it would have died too because that's what the Universe had planned for you.

I think the radiator upgrade to the larger, better cooling, all aluminum radiator is a smart upgrade. I got the car Feb 20, 2016. I drove it home from previous owners home to mine, an hour 15 mins. A few days later I was in the hospital getting 13 fusions. 4 months before I drove it again. So... I've only Really just began playing with my car. She's a beauty, all Base, all Stock, the only purchased option is cruise control. Not even power door locks! And most other Vettes I looked at or see all over and on ebay have leather seats and glass top. I like mine just the way it is. The Cloth Seats are like new and very very cozy. The Targa Top won't crack as many of the ones I've seen are. Was well taken care of by senior citizen type. All GM parts. Gave me a spare GM muffler. But some things after 31 years need attention to, and one is the radiator. It has a leak, and I believe it's done. I believe it will be springing leaks here and there and then maybe be the cause of getting stuck somewhere.

So I'm renovating, renewing, upgrading the whole cooling system. I thought for sure there might be some modifications involved with the larger radiator, but I just didn't want to hear, "NO, Don't Do it! It will take years to install it and Never work properly".

I can't wait to tune her up real good. She already gets up on it. Jeeze! What a car! Sticks to the road and just goes, hugs me and my busted back in those 6 way seats... no swaying, rocking, rolling... and the brakes are fantastic... I am so impressed with this car... it's SO Much Better than I Ever Expected! It to me is like a formula one race car with a Vette shell. It's so perfect for me and my poor broken spine. I can reach across it and there's no fenders to try and bend over... my spine is like a 4x4. bout as flexible as a totem pole. My sweet and low Corvette... I can practically give it a tune up while sitting in a chair.

I do notice on the new radiator, in the photo, there's a fitting just below the filler neck about 8 inches down. Do you know what it's for? (See Photo)

All The Best,

John :pat


AllAluminumRadiator.jpg
 

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ecss

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 27, 2004
Messages
649
Location
Windsor Mill, MD
Corvette
89 Brilliant Red Metallic
If you look at your original radiator that hole is for the low coolant level sensor.
Should have a single green wire with a spade lug going to the sensor.
You spread the two tabs and the sensor pulls out. It seals by orings.
The locking tabs get brittle over time so be gentle if you need to transfer it to the new radiator.
 

hcbph

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 30, 2013
Messages
260
Location
Minneapolis, Mn.
Corvette
86 Red Convertible
John

My 86 originally came with a 4+3 tranny. As noted, on the passenger side there's the overflow on the fitting for the cap. Below that is a line which I think is for the transmission cooler (no longer used) and a fitting where the 'low coolant' sensor plugs into. Below that is the radiator hose to the engine. Around the right side is where the condenser fittings go to the A/C.

Based on the picture, and this is purely a guess, those couple of extra fittings might be for a tranny cooler but that's speculation on my part. I didn't trace them as I didn't have a need, but I thought one went on one side of the radiator and the other went on the other side.

Best suggestion is to look yours over and see where they go.

Paul
 

RedHot85Vette

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 20, 2016
Messages
65
Location
Owego, NY
Corvette
1995 Red Corvette (C4, L98)
If you look at your original radiator that hole is for the low coolant level sensor.
Should have a single green wire with a spade lug going to the sensor.
You spread the two tabs and the sensor pulls out. It seals by orings.
The locking tabs get brittle over time so be gentle if you need to transfer it to the new radiator.

Yep! That's the Gizmo. All this time I'm looking at the picture online just about to order it saying in my head, "what's that for?!"... and that thought just got stuck there. I will say in my defense, I'm all torqued up on medication from having 13 fusions installed just recently, and although having the car since Feb 20th, 2016, (drove the car that day, once) I went for emergency surgery only days later. I'm only now just being allowed to go outside off my porch unsupervised, because I was a "Fall Hazard". I'm still getting to know my baby. Oddly enough, I can drive fine, but walking is still an issue. The car is in a shelter a distance away, so... it sux not being able to play with it as much as I'd like. All in good time! I always wanted a Corvette. Odd how I should get one through this manner. One of the reasons why I have one now, and a C4 specifically, with the clam shell front end, there are no fenders to bend over and it's so low, I can practically give it a tune up sitting in a chair. I had to sell my gorgeous black/red classic 64 Comet because I wouldn't be able to bend over the fenders with my 4x4 spine. I put the money aside for a car I could have fun with and tinker with. Try to find a cool hotrod muscle car without fenders... There are other reasons why I got the Vette. It's actually easier to get in and out of when you know how for another thing... and more...

Thanks for your help... I ordered the radiator anyway. I thought the car might need some mods, for fitment, to get it installed. I thought, about that fitting there, "whatever... if I don't need it, I'll just plug it up". I'm so wrecked I'm going to have to let some other mechanic do the work (shucks!). I'm going to find a mechanic I can work with, who doesn't try to stall me with that line about it being a Vette, like it's some kind of Alien, and that it'll take special work, and all that nonsense... I'm going to order a new sensor from RockAuto just for fun and the fact that mine is probably 31 years old and since I'm replacing most all the components of my cooling system, and that thing being very easy to replace... I believe it first needs to be installed in my RockAuto shopping cart.

All For Fun,

John :pat
 

hcbph

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 30, 2013
Messages
260
Location
Minneapolis, Mn.
Corvette
86 Red Convertible
John

Going to stick my 2 cents in here. My 86 is close enough for govt work to yours. I've done a lot of watching and reading on them and I've had mine almost 3 years now. I have 'my list' of things I either need now or think I might need sometime in the future. The biggest problem is some of those items on my list may not be available either new or nos if at all possibly when needed. When places like RockAuto has some of their clearance sales especially, I go down their list and if one of mine is on theirs and it's both a reasonable brand and price, I'll pick it up regardless of price (meaning less expensive doesn't make it bad if it's a good brand and quality). As long as it's not a perishable item, it can sit on the shelf till the day it's needed, if it's ever needed. Relays can be especially hard to find at times, just one example.

Give you an example: I have some hoses, a water pump, an abs pump, a couple of windshield wiper blades, a couple of relays to name a few things on the shelf. I don't need any of them today but there's a chance I'll need sometime in the future and when that day comes I'm ready. I'd suggest anyone with this age of car consider doing it too for those things that need replacing and may or may not be available in the future.

Another thing I'm doing is I'm installing a nice custom install battery cutoff on the car. Easy twist of the wrist for on or off and should prevent the potential electrical fires when stored or un-driven for a period of time.

Paul
 

RedHot85Vette

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 20, 2016
Messages
65
Location
Owego, NY
Corvette
1995 Red Corvette (C4, L98)
John

Going to stick my 2 cents in here... I'd suggest anyone with this age of car consider doing it too for those things that need replacing and may or may not be available in the future.

Another thing I'm doing is I'm installing a nice custom install battery cutoff on the car. Easy twist of the wrist for on or off and should prevent the potential electrical fires when stored or un-driven for a period of time.

Paul

I've had a few classic cars and a couple of Trans Ams, and cars that were just Old. I did just like you were saying. I couldn't help myself anyway. I have some mental health issues. I just sold my 64 Mercury Comet and it went bye-bye with tons of extras. Just one example, hubcaps. Piles of them. One day I lost a hubcap so I got on eBay and bought a replacement. Then I bought a spare. Then I bought many spares. Then I bought other styles of hubcaps that were options for my car. I bought 2 sets of baby moons, trim rings. I bought other hubcaps from other cars that I knew would fit. I had a collection of Lug Nuts, Spinners, Cones, Bullets, valve stem covers, valve stem caps, and on and on... I kept enough to open an Etsy store.

I had to rebuild my single barrel Autolite 1100 carburetor shortly after getting the car. It's a specialized carb that works only with the Load-o-Matic distributor that the car came with. The two go hand in hand. I got a spare carb and a rebuild kit. I got boxes of spare carbs and rebuild kits. I have a tri-carb setup for an inline 6 (rare). I have 2 sets of linkages for that. I bought an ultrasonic, a bead roller, a portable steam cleaner, special coatings, all sorts of misc small parts, and on and on. I kept most of that junk. I couldn't part with it and the carbs when refinished are worth a lot of money. I could go on and on. I did the same for cars from my past And with eBay, RockAuto, Amazon. You might be surprised at how cheap you can get things from Amazon's Warehouse Deals. I still have some of the parts from cars past sitting in my shed.

Anything I could get a good deal on and it was the right fitment for my car... I bought it. And like you, any hard to find stuff, I picked it up. I've only had my Vette since Feb 20th 2016. Right after I got it I went to the hospital. I got 13 brand new fusions. So I've spent a lot of time in the hospital, then doctors appointments up the wazoo, sitting on my butt, healing, fuzing, doing absolutely nothing to keep my new hardware from breaking. I wasn't even allowed out of the house or off my porch (fall hazard), never mind near my Corvette. My wife has to help me with everything now that I've begun to play with it a bit. But I got a couple of extra lift supports for the hatch and hood. A spare GM Muffler. A pair of really nice headlights, convoluted wire harness, spark plugs and wires and separators. A neat Accel Super coil (I'll use it but keep the original) I do that too. Keep parts that I replace so I can refurbish them, like relays for example (the relays in these cars are weeny compared to the ones I worked on in Jukeboxes, and telephone system equipment from the old days, relays as big as Subway subs).

Some other stuff I'm sure. And I'll be creating a whole new inventory of parts for my '85 Corvette. Along with parts, books, memorabilia, dealer handouts, and not just the regular ones but the special ones they gave only to special enthusiasts, specialty repair manuals, books, a still in package Hotwheels '63 splitwindow coupe, and I'm sure to get more paraphernalia as time goes by. I've got eBay auto-searches lit up for everything. And I've only had the car 5 months, Ha! Don't you just love "Clearance", Hahaha...! I Love this goddarn GM Chevy HotRod! I'm going to join the local Upstate NY Southern Tier Corvette Club and see what kind of "stock" I can get from those guys.

I always wanted one of these Corvettes. There's another one down the road from me, about 2 miles. I'm going to stop in and take a look at it just for fun. I hope I don't end up buying it for spare parts. I had to sell my beautiful 64 Comet because I knew I wouldn't be able to bend over the fenders very well, if at all. My spine is very compromised and about as flexible as a 4x4. Now... what car is low to the ground, easy to get in and out of, easy to wash and wax, can change engine and front suspension parts while sitting in a chair... And... Has No Fenders! Hahaha...!!! It's the ONLY car for me! It's Odd how I ended up getting it. I Love the Universe too. It's I believe always very Kind to me, in a Bipolar (ahemm...), yin yang, Gift & a Curse, sort of way. All I'm saying is... Be Nice to People! I believe you'll have a Good Life, a Good Death... and fill your garage full of spare parts.

John :pat

PS Paul. I can't believe it! I had the same idea today to install the battery cutoff. I've had one in other cars and a boat. Another good thing is, while you're working on your car, You can shut off power easily so you don't fry something, and your underhood lights aren't draining your battery when you don't need them. I'm going to get a nice cutoff switch... and a spare!
 

hcbph

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 30, 2013
Messages
260
Location
Minneapolis, Mn.
Corvette
86 Red Convertible
John

If you're interested in what I'm doing, send me a PM and I have a couple of photo's so far. The switch I got from Summit (handles about 300 amps IIRC), I've had two sets of wires put together so far but it's not hooked up. Like you I have some back issues due to being hit by a truck in the past so it's hard for me to get under a vehicle.

I have all the parts to do it, but I need to get under the car to hook up the end of the cable to the block or bell housing (2 gauge so it should hold up). My mechanic said he'd do it on his lift when he has a chance. I made a mounting plate that bolts into the well under the drivers side headlight that the switch mounts to. I have the cable to go from the block to the switch (actually 2 of them in different lengths - just in case). I have some loops that I'll attach to the bolts that go through the inner fender on the drivers side to hold the cable from the engine to the switch. I also have an armored cable to go from the switch to the battery. At least for the time being I'm planning on leaving the original battery cable on the car, I'll just tape it off and tie it off out of the way (just in case).

The only thing I'm not sure of is which of the 2 cables to use from the switch to the block. Both are 2 gauge but one is automotive while the longer one is for a boat and has a little thinner insulation on it. That along with where to actually attach it to the engine or bell housing but that will be determined once I can get under the car.

I'll get it taken care of one of these days.

Paul

PS - couple of other things. Added a switch to the underhood lights. Also watch leaving the car doors open for long periods of time - can burn out that interior relay.
 
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RedHot85Vette

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 20, 2016
Messages
65
Location
Owego, NY
Corvette
1995 Red Corvette (C4, L98)
what's that nipple for?!

If you look at your original radiator that hole is for the low coolant level sensor.
Should have a single green wire with a spade lug going to the sensor.
You spread the two tabs and the sensor pulls out. It seals by orings.
The locking tabs get brittle over time so be gentle if you need to transfer it to the new radiator.

Hey Man! Thanks for the tip off. That was my thought at first. But then I thought I'd seen of those sensors mounted on a coolant reservoir. I didn't recall seeing one on my car's radiator and sure enough when I double checked, my original radiator has the nipple but it's factory blocked off, molded with the molding, and nothing is hooked up there. I went to RockAuto and I could find no listing for a Coolant Level Sensor for my 1985 Corvette. I checked my Chiltons schematics several times but saw no CLS; for my year. That still doesn't mean there ain't one... sometimes between the Engineers and Mr. Chilton, one doesn't stand a chance.

The New Aluminum radiator has the nipple and it has sort of a mushroom shaped head that would fit the CLS as you have mentioned. I looked up the CLS on eBay, the photo fits, and Eckler's shows one as described...

"Corvette Low Coolant Level Sensor, 1984-1989 (Fits: 1985 Corvette) $21.29 Buy It Now + $16.95 shipping ($38.24 Total)"​

...they are so out of their minds with their prices and shipping... that little sneezle of a thing shipped for as much...

Autozone shows no listing for a CLS for my car.

When I get a chance I'm going to check the schematics to see what they're doing with Green wires for my car. Then I'm going to look at schematics for later years and see what I come up with. If I could get one of those devices cheap I'd get one for the simplicity of using it to plug up the fitting. I am at the moment wondering whether or not my car even has a CLS, and if so, where it's located and why I can't find it on the map.

John :pat

Follow-up: Solution: Found the part listed under the 1986 Corvette Listing at RockAuto

ACDELCO 10054615 GM Original Equipment $15.37, minus small discount, plus $2.99 shipping

CorvetteCoolantLevelSensorACDelco10054615(RA1986VetteListing).jpg


Next!
 

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hcbph

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 30, 2013
Messages
260
Location
Minneapolis, Mn.
Corvette
86 Red Convertible
It's possible the radiator is generic to fit more years so it has provisions for things that aren't on all cars. You can see the green wire under the hose on the right on mine that hooks up to that sensor. If yours doesn't need or have the sensor then the radiator vendor should have some form of plug to fill the unused hole or be able to recommend something.
 

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ecss

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 27, 2004
Messages
649
Location
Windsor Mill, MD
Corvette
89 Brilliant Red Metallic
The sensor requires a low coolant module located under the dash.

Here's the schematic for a 86 which I assume is the same for a 85.
Shine a flashlight on the tell tale display and see if there is silk screen lettering for Low Coolant.

 

RedHot85Vette

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 20, 2016
Messages
65
Location
Owego, NY
Corvette
1995 Red Corvette (C4, L98)
The sensor requires a low coolant module located under the dash.

Here's the schematic for a 86 which I assume is the same for a 85.
Shine a flashlight on the tell tale display and see if there is silk screen lettering for Low Coolant.

My Chilton Manual Schematic shows "1985-1988". It's completely different from your schematic. Where did you get it by the way? It's interesting how the "Probe" works. In my manual/schematic the only reference that may be viable is on the PCM , C1 & D11, say, C1/DKG/W, AND C11/DKG, and then two lines/arrows about an inch long, that dead-end, with arrowheads that point to the words "TO ENGINE COOLING FAN SYSTEM".

No Schematic in this manual shows a Coolant Level Probe/Sensor, nor is there any reference to one in the manual anywhere.

RockAuto shows No Part for the 1985 Corvette, but shows the "Coolant Level Sensor" for the 1986 Model. I will look for the Module/Solid State under the dash (or have my wife do it, I've got 14 fusions on my spine, my contorting & twisting days are over!). The Module also looks like it's relevant to the "Electronic Air Conditioning" Option, which I don't have. I'm wondering if I get the module, and using the input/output side for the CLS, I can use it to Add the Coolant Level Sensor myself. I'll see what kind of output I get from it, and maybe hook up an appropriate indicator. Seems like it would be a useful, somewhat important gauge to have.

In the meantime, I ordered the CLS from RockAuto to use as a plug for the nipple. So too, I'll at least have that part installed should I decide to rig things up.

I REALLY Appreciate Your Help and your beautiful schematic. I'm hoping to get some good service manual off of ebay. There's one really nice one with a plastic blue cover and it's tabbed and nice like that, but pricey. I'm waiting for a great deal/find on one.

It's All Fun with these Vettes, ain't it?!

john :pat
 

ecss

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 27, 2004
Messages
649
Location
Windsor Mill, MD
Corvette
89 Brilliant Red Metallic
The Corvette specific vendors list the sensor is for 84-89.
The module is listed for 86-89.
It appears if your 85 doesn't have one it could easily be added.

All you need is power, ground, wire to the sensor and wire to an indicator.

Here's a seller on ebay with the module connector pigtail and the module.

1986 1987 1988 1989 Corvette Low Coolant Plastic Module Connector Wires GM | eBay

1986 1989 Corvette Low Coolant Stock Module GM 14078971 | eBay

Here's a link showing the factory service manual which was published by Helms Corp. for GM
Not sure if the schematics are included so if you're interested you should contact Corvette Central and verify if schematics are included.

1985 Corvette Shop Service Manual | eBay
 
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RedHot85Vette

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 20, 2016
Messages
65
Location
Owego, NY
Corvette
1995 Red Corvette (C4, L98)
The Corvette specific vendors list the sensor is for 84-89.
The module is listed for 86-89.
It appears if your 85 doesn't have one it could easily be added.

All you need is power, ground, wire to the sensor and wire to an indicator.

Here's a seller on ebay with the module connector pigtail and the module.


Wow! Thanks a Bunch, ECSS! You saved me a lot of time looking for these things. I ordered the parts thru the links you gave me, and sent Corvette Central a question about the Helms manual. I guess I'll just grab power from somewhere, and mount some kind of LED somewhere as an indicator.


I'm also ordering new horns. Mine sound like someone scratching their nails on a blackboard. I'm going to get a pair of compact Very Loud compressor air horns. So I'm thinking just for fun rigging things so as to use my new horns as a Low Coolant indicator. I bet that'll get the coolant level corrected real quick.

Thanks Again ECSS!
I appreciate your help very much.

John :pat

RedHot85Vette_0343.jpg

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