Planning an engine conversion in your Jeep is not an easy task. Transmission, motor mounts, fuel delivery, wiring, exhaust, not to mention axles… The list seems almost endless. With a list this long and complicated, the last thing you'd notice is that your new engine cannot even stay remotely cool with a stock Jeep radiator.
Most people wait until after they complete the engine swap before they realize they're going to need more cooling. The new engine turns over for the first time, the hum sounds beautiful, then the engine shoots to 230 degrees before you even notice the temperature gauge. This is a common and sometimes costly proposition for anyone who has undergone this type of engine swap. You've spent thousands of dollars and even more effort to swap this engine into your Jeep, and now it's going to hit your wallet one more time, right? Wrong.
Let's clear up a few common misconceptions about radiator selection for your Jeep with an engine conversion. You will not be routing any hoses around lower engine obstacles or modifying a completely different radiator to fit the Jeep body and your new engine. Nor will you have to go out and spend $500 plus on a pricey, custom-made aluminum unit to keep your engine cool. Radiators.com stocks heavy duty, all metal Jeep radiators with hose locations to accommodate almost any type of engine swap. These radiators have correct hose locations for a 350 V8 engine (to use a popular swap as an example) and you won't have to modify any mounting brackets or re-route any hoses.
With a little planning and some help from Radiators.com, finding a radiator for your Jeep can be both easy and inexpensive. Let's look at some popular conversions and the types of radiators that fit. Chevy 350 in Jeep CJ, YJ, and TJ Swapping a Chevy 350 into your CJ or Wrangler is one of the most popular engine conversions in 4WD vehicles. You will always have cooling problems if you attempt to use the stock Jeep radiator with a Chevy 350 engine. The radiators used in Jeeps are engineered to handle mostly 4 and 6 cylinder engines, and those designed for 8 cylinder engines usually have incorrect hose locations for a Chevy engine.
If you're planning on modifying your existing radiator or having an old radiator re-cored, think again. This choice will leave you with a very short warranty, an engine that runs too hot, and a part that will probably leak within a year or two. A Chevy 350 in 4WD will put some serious wear and tear on your radiator. Purchasing a part with a lifetime warranty will ensure that you install a radiator that can adequately cool your new engine, and you'll also be able exchange it should the new radiator ever fail.
Ford 302 or 351 in Jeep CJ, YJ, TJ
If you plan to swap your Jeep CJ, YJ, TJ engine with a Ford 302 or 351, cooling options are pretty easy. Many times the stock Jeep radiator will work for a little while. The reason this engine swap is usually easier is because of the location on the lower hose on most Ford engines. On many Ford V8 engines, the lower hose will be on the driver's side of the vehicle. Stock Jeep radiators have the bottom hose on this side, so the stock radiator will hook up to most Ford engines pretty easily. This setup will not last very long if you use 4WD on a regular basis. Pretty soon the stock Jeep radiator will not be able to dissipate the heat caused by your new V8 engine. As with a Chevy 350 engine conversion, your best option is to purchase a new radiator with a lifetime warranty. After all, if you're doing any amount of four wheeling in the Jeep, then the lifetime warranty may come in handy. Also, you're going to need more than the stock 2-row to keep that Ford V8 engine cool.
In either of these situations, the stock radiator is never going to adequately cool a V8 engine. You may be able to use a stock radiator for a while, but your engine will run dangerously hot until you upgrade to a unit with more capacity. Brand new radiators with lifetime warranties are always the best choice, and Radiators.com stocks models that compete with prices of an average re-core. They have been fitting heavy-duty radiators into 4WD vehicles for years, so they'll be able to find the perfect fit for your Jeep no matter what kind of engine you have under the hood.