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2006 Toyota Matrix 1.8l Coolant Leak at Radiator

As if I’m not busy enough, I am constantly reminded that I need to take time for friends and family. I was recently reminded of this situation by my father-in-law.

He is the owner of a 2006 Toyota Matrix 1.8l. For a few months now he said he would notice the warm air from the heater vents would fluctuate from hot to warm. Relative to this temperature fluctuation was the movement of the temperature gage. He also informed me that he had to add coolant to the overflow bottle every so often.

This sounded like a coolant leak to me.

We went out and raised the hood on the Matrix and took a look. This is what I found:

Toyota Matrix Radiator Leaking

Viewed with cooling fan assembly removed.








Coolant leaking from the side tank.

He was going to be the proud owner of a brand new radiator!

The Toyota dealer wanted anywhere from $300 to more than $400 for a new radiator. I found this one at Advance Auto Parts for about $120:

New Toyota Matrix Radiator

Advance Auto Parts Toyota Matrix 1.8l Radiator Part Number









Here is what I did to install it:

1. Remove the radiator cap. Open the petcock and drain the coolant into a suitable container. The coolant will run out of the left lower mounting foot of the radiator.

2. Remove the cooling fan connector (side cutters for wire harness clips) and bolts (10mm) holding the fan assembly in place.

3. Remove the upper radiator hose (channel lock pliers).

4. Remove the transmission cooler hoses.

5. Remove the lower radiator hose. Be sure to place a the drain bucket underneath the hose before removal. You will loose some coolant but can position the hose in an up position against the engine to keep it from dripping.

6. Close the radiator petcock.

7. Remove the radiator support brackets (10mm).

8. Remove the radiator.

After removing the radiator I found another spot in the middle bottom where it was leaking:

Leaking Toyota Matrix Radiator

Leaking Toyota Matrix Radiator








Installation is the reverse of removal.

Be sure to tighten the transmission cooler fittings at the radiator. The ones on the new radiator were loose.

9. Fill the radiator with the correct coolant. Fill it slowly so the air can bleed out instead of being trapped. Fill the overflow container halfway between low and full.

10. Clean the front end where coolant was spilled with a garden hose. Spray from the top down and underneath the car. Coolant can get into the tiniest of crevices and will linger.

11. Road test.

12. Verify the coolant level after the road test and after the engine cools off. Top off as necessary.

Parts: Radiator $120 and Coolant $23

Labor: Less than one hour

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