Click for Coverage
Due to the EU’s Global Data Protection Regulation, our website is currently unavailable to visitors from most European countries. We apologize for this inconvenience and encourage you to visit for the latest on new cars, car reviews and news, concept cars and auto show coverage, awards and much more.MOTORTREND.COM
  • JP Magazine
  • Dirt Sports + Off-Road
  • 4-Wheel & Off-Road
  • Four Wheeler

Cool In A Box - Bolt-On Aluminum Radiator With Fans

Posted in How To on July 1, 2013
Share this

The XJ Cherokee wasn’t originally designed to have an inline-six engine in it. It was designed for a small V-6 or inline-four. The inline-six is much longer than those engines, and the radiator had to be moved to clear it. That is the reason for the 36-inch-long and 10-inch-tall radiator with the goofy mechanical and electric fan setup. If that wasn’t enough, the factory electric fan that is supposed to pull air through one third of the radiator doesn’t come on until the Jeep is over 212 degrees.

We spent a lot of last summer fighting overheating in our ’98 Cherokee. We threw fan clutches, thermostats, radiator flushes, a water pump, and even a couple of radiator caps at it. But in 100-degree weather, when we worked it hard it would overheat no matter what we did. That is despite having a big three-core copper/brass radiator in it. Our fan shrouds were broken and epoxied back together, and last fall a small leak started where one of our tanks was attached to the core. Basically our cooling system was showing all of its age

The fully welded construction should resist vibration better than our old copper-brass tanks did, and the heat sink fins of the tank itself will help shed more heat than a non-finned tank. We were also happy to see the radiator shipped ready to drop in and every orifice had caps taped on to prevent debris getting into it. We double-checked all the screws and bolts holding everything together for tightness before dropping it in. We also noticed holes in the shroud to allow more airflow when on the highway.

Then about a month after we noticed the leak, we saw Flex-A-Lite’s booth at the 2012 SEMA show and low and behold there was a short and wide radiator which could only fit an inline-six-powered Cherokee. The radiator was a two-core aluminum unit with internally and externally finned aluminum tanks that were welded on for off-road durability. If that wasn’t enough, the kit was to ship with a triple electric fan setup, an automatic fan controller, and optional heavy-duty oil cooler for automatic-equipped Jeeps.

Flex-A-Lite makes radiators for CJs, YJs, and TJs in addition to the new XJ radiator. All its aluminum radiators feature the same finned tanks. On the open-top Jeep line, the tanks are often used to bolt shrouds or overflows on to the tank itself rather than poking through the core with Christmas trees. In all versions there are the external fins you can see as well as internal fins which also help to grab heat. We got some cutaways of the extrusion so you can see inside the tanks. On the left is the open-top Jeep tank and on the right is the XJ tank.

Needless to say, we were on that like a fat kid on a doughnut, and we arranged right then and there to get a hold of a kit for our overheating XJ. We ended up installing the second one ever and the first one outside of Flex-A-Lite’s corporate headquarters. We are glad to show you how the install went and include our real-world results.

PhotosView Slideshow


Fife, WA 98424

Connect With Us

Newsletter Sign Up

Subscribe to the Magazine

Browse Articles By Vehicle

See Results