Cooling is one of the most important mechanical areas of any pickup. If you're planning on pushing a truck to its limits, you need a cooling system that's up to the challenge. And while most OEM cooling systems do the job adequately there's something to be said for having a decent buffer against complete and total meltdown.
Being familiar with the Mishimoto brand already it was a no brainer that as soon as the company launched its line of Ford F-150
aluminum radiators we put our name on the list to order one. Our test subject is a 2013 Ford F-150
Raptor, which is used primarily as an off-road toy. This means it is run very hard and then parked until the next time. No daily driving or school drop-off duty for this pickup. And while we hadn't had any overheating issues with the truck, we liked the idea of more cooling capacity.
For what it's worth the Mishimoto 2009 to 2014 Ford
F-150 and 2010 to 2014 Raptor radiators are virtually identical, and the installation process is the same. The company also offers radiators for 2015 to current F-150 pickups as well as 1997 to 2010 trucks. Odds are good they have you covered no matter which generation Ford you own.
| We knew our SVT Raptor would be the perfect test vehicle for Mishimoto's new F-150 aluminum radiator. This truck gets pushed hard and put away dirty. It does not live a comfortable street life.
The Mishimoto radiator that we installed comes with some impressive specifications. It's fully TIG welded aluminum, offers a 150-percent increase in coolant volume, 102-percent increase in surface area, and 60-percent increase in core volume. And this is over the already heavy-duty radiator that Ford puts in the Raptor. In Mishimoto's testing their radiator was able to drop coolant temperatures by up to 70 degrees and returned coolant back to the engine up to 40 degrees cooler than the factory radiator.
To try and test this for ourselves we headed out to the California desert after completing the installation. Over the course of two days we hammered the truck hard in the dirt, and then towed a decently heavy (by Raptor standards anyway) travel trailer up-hill into a very still breeze. Using our SCT Livewire TS+ monitor we were able to closely watch coolant temperature fluctuations. What we noted was the truck still warmed up plenty quick, however it remained at about 192 degrees for longer and through harder driving. And when the engine did heat up, like pulling a big grade with a trailer or spinning 5,000 rpm up a sand hill the engine temperature would climb to about 205 degree, but very quickly dropped right back down to normal. Contrast this to past towing experiences where we'd seen engine temps rise significantly higher and take longer to drop and the evidence is night and day in favor of Mishimoto.
We'll continue hammering on the Mishimoto aluminum radiator, but if first impressions are to be believed this upgrade is worth its weight in ah, never mind, puns are dumb, just go buy one you won't be disappointed.
| The only real difference between the radiator fitted to Ford's 6.2L V-8 powered Raptor and that found in every other F-150 is the fill/pressure cap. Raptors have a more traditional style cap and filler, while the other trucks have a pressurized degas bottle. The installation and construction of the radiator is the same otherwise.
| At first glance replacing a radiator may seem like a big job. We're here to tell you that it can be done in the driveway with basic hand tools. You'll need a touch of patience and a helping hand but on the difficulty scale it's not bad. The whole job took us about six hours from start to finish and we performed it in the driveway.
| The first step of any job is to disconnect the battery. This not only protects you as you work, but also the truck's sensitive electronics should something unfortunate happen.
| It's obvious, but the factory radiator needs to be drained before it can be removed. With a catch can in place, we used a 5-gallon bucket, we took the radiator cap off, placed a piece of hose over the drain petcock, and slowly transferred fluid out of the radiator.
| It may seem strange, but the air intake tube needs to be removed. This is done to gain access to both the upper radiator hose and the cooling fans. The airbox and resonator can both be left in place.
| Next, the upper radiator hose can be removed. This hose is held in place with spring clips and depending on age can require a bit of persuasion to come loose.
| The fuse box on this generation of F-150, 2009 to 2014, resides at the front of the engine bay on top of the radiator. It is attached with four bolts to the core support. A ratcheting box wrench makes short work of removing the fuse box. After the box is unbolted, all of the plastic clips should be removed from the wire harness and the whole thing can be pushed back and out of the way.
| With the fuse box and wire harness pushed out of the way the cooling fan assembly can be removed. These trucks use a pair of electric fans that are held in place by two bolts to the back of the radiator. Once undone it can be lifted straight up and out.
| The factory radiator is held in place with two bolts to the core support and two large rubber grommets. With the bolts loose the radiator can be removed. We had to navigate AC lines and power steering cooler lines in getting the unit out of the truck.
| Ford used a heavy-duty radiator in Raptors from the start, so the factory unit isn't bad in and of itself. Other powertrains and models, however, weren't as fortunate and utilized a lighter duty cooler.
| With the radiator and cooling fans removed there's quite a bit of space between the front of the engine and the core support. We took this opportunity to change our oil as well, since the filter was much easier to access from the top.
| The Mishimoto radiator is constructed entirely of aluminum, is fully TIG welded, holds 150-percent more coolant, has 102-percent more cooling surface area, and has a larger internal transmission cooler than the factory heavy-duty unit.
| When placed side by side the difference in size between the factory radiator and the Mishimoto aluminum unit becomes clearly visible. And remember, this is the Ford heavy-duty radiator, if you're swapping the Mishimoto radiator into a truck other than a Raptor the difference will be even greater.
| The new Mishimoto radiator features a magnetic drain plug designed for easy fluid changes and for capturing any magnetic debris that may be in the cooling system. Our only desire would be for a drain valve more like factory, as this style plug could prove messy when draining the radiator.
| The only part of the factory radiator that gets reused are the two rubber grommets that are found on the mounting feet. These can be easily swapped by hand. If one appears missing check the mounting location in the truck as they can easily slip off.
| Included with the radiator is a new O-ring for the lower hose. Ford uses a quick disconnect fitting to attaching the lower hose to the radiator. Replacing this O-ring helps ensure leak-free operation.
| The new Mishimoto radiator drops into place in the core support in the opposite direction that the factory one was removed. This is where a second set of hands comes in handy no pun intended. It's useful to have someone hold the wire harness out of the way and help guide the large radiator into place.
| The factory AC condenser attaches to the front of the factory radiator with plastic clips. On the new Mishimoto radiator the condenser clips into place on the driver side, however the passenger side uses these provided U-claps and bolts to hold it in place.
| Working in reverse order we reinstalled the cooling fans, wire harness, intake tube, and upper radiator hose. Instead of reusing the factory upper radiator hose we instead installed Mishimoto's silicon upper hose.
| We filled the radiator with Mishimoto's Liquid Chill synthetic coolant. The new radiator needs either one gallon of full strength (mixed with water) or two gallons of pre-mix fluid.
| After the install was complete, we headed out to fully test the new cooling system. We used our Livewire TS+ from SCT to monitor engine temperatures. What we found was the engine warmed up like normal, however it stayed at its normal operating temperature much longer. And when pushed hard it never gained more than about 10 degrees, and it cooled back to normal very quickly.