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Thread: Removing/Replacing Coolant Elbow (fbody)

  1. #1

    Removing/Replacing Coolant Elbow (fbody)

    Well I just finished doing the lower intake gaskets on my firebird and all went well with the exception of the coolant elbow that i replaced. I didnt know i needed to use Vaseline (box said nothing) and the old one came out dry. Long story short its gushing coolant.

    Ive seen a few posts here about it only taking 20 minutes to replace these things... I'm wondering if that only applies to FWDs? What im wondering is if I can get this thing out without disturbing the water pump. I've got the alternator out of the way and I'm not seeing a way to do it. If i have to remove the water pump I am going to replace it. thanks!

    2011-04-26_19-57-08_702.jpg

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  3. #2
    Full Throttle Extreme! Grimm's Avatar
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    You can definitely get it out without messing with the water pump. You'll have to pull the alternator and then the idler pulley/heater bracket that it bolts to. After you get that off, look at your elbows and check to see if your o-rings are messed up. If not, use some vasline or some other lubricant to reinstall them. I had to do that after my last rebuild. Took all of half an hour in my driveway. Super easy.

    If the o-rings are all chewed up, you'll have to get new ones. Luckily they're really cheap.
    99 Firebird - ls1 swapped
    00 s-10 - 4.3 waiting to explode
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  4. #3
    Thanks! How does that bracket connect to the water pump then? Is there another O-ring i need to be careful not to disturb or figure on replacing?

  5. #4
    Full Throttle Extreme! Grimm's Avatar
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    The bracket should connect to the water pump via the two coolant elbows. They each have an o-ring on each end. It can be kinda awkward to get them to both release properly...but if you've replaced them lately it should be easier and even if they break....like I said coolant elbows only cost a few bucks so replacing them again is pretty easy.
    99 Firebird - ls1 swapped
    00 s-10 - 4.3 waiting to explode
    96 f150 - 4.9 already asploded

  6. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Grimm View Post
    The bracket should connect to the water pump via the two coolant elbows. They each have an o-ring on each end. It can be kinda awkward to get them to both release properly...but if you've replaced them lately it should be easier and even if they break....like I said coolant elbows only cost a few bucks so replacing them again is pretty easy.
    Are you sure you are referring to an fbody? There is only one coolant elbow on an fbody and it goes from the intake manifold to the tensioner assembly... which looks like part of the water pump to me.

  7. #6
    Full Throttle Extreme! Grimm's Avatar
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    There are two on an fbody. Promise. I can take pictures if you need. One is out in the open on the front of the bracket, and one is under the bracket and runs to the water pump where you can't see it. Unless you're talking about a 5th gen 3.6l....then i'm no help at all.

    I've been around 4th gens enough to know my stuff atleast a little.

    24K posts aren't because I'm a COMPLETE whore.
    99 Firebird - ls1 swapped
    00 s-10 - 4.3 waiting to explode
    96 f150 - 4.9 already asploded

  8. #7
    (╯□)╯︵ /(.□ . \) Sparky's Avatar
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    There are two versions of that bracket I noticed, depending on the year. I was careful to make sure I got the right tensioner bracket when I had to replace the whole darn thing once. My 98 had the two plastic elbows. I think 96 and maybe 97 had the one plastic and one integrated metal. NO idea why there was a change.

    What year is your bird? I can see you've got the metal elbow on yours.

    Anyway, as Grimm said, pull belt, pull alternator, pull bracket. Fairly easy. Just be aware that if the plastic elbow has been on there a long time, it may break off, so you'll probably have to extract the busted ends, then replace the elbow. Cheap, can be had at Autozone/Advance Auto/etc, in the "Help!" section.
    - Jared
    1999 Camaro 3.8L A4. Cammed, so kind of fast.
    2007.5 Silverado LT Z71 5.3L 4x4. Slight lift, bigger-ish tires, not a slouch but slower than the car.


  9. #8
    Replace them with new coolant elbows, dont reuse the old ones. My Coolant elbow exploded into unrecoverable bits at 146k miles and NEARLY took my motor with it as I overheated.

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Sparky View Post
    There are two versions of that bracket I noticed, depending on the year. I was careful to make sure I got the right tensioner bracket when I had to replace the whole darn thing once. My 98 had the two plastic elbows. I think 96 and maybe 97 had the one plastic and one integrated metal. NO idea why there was a change.

    What year is your bird? I can see you've got the metal elbow on yours.

    Anyway, as Grimm said, pull belt, pull alternator, pull bracket. Fairly easy. Just be aware that if the plastic elbow has been on there a long time, it may break off, so you'll probably have to extract the busted ends, then replace the elbow. Cheap, can be had at Autozone/Advance Auto/etc, in the "Help!" section.
    This is on a 96. Where is the metal elbow - is it the area that looks to be integrated into the water pump housing?

    I already have the other (plastic) elbow since i originally bought the kit to replace the one in the intake when doing the lower gaskets. Should i re-use the metal elbow or replace it with the plastic one?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grimm View Post
    There are two on an fbody. Promise. I can take pictures if you need. One is out in the open on the front of the bracket, and one is under the bracket and runs to the water pump where you can't see it. Unless you're talking about a 5th gen 3.6l....then i'm no help at all.

    I've been around 4th gens enough to know my stuff atleast a little.

    24K posts aren't because I'm a COMPLETE whore.
    OK thanks ill check it out again, either the metal elbow has me fooled or I be riding the short bus lately
    Last edited by JoeliusZ28; 04-27-2011 at 08:57 AM.

  11. #10
    (╯□)╯︵ /(.□ . \) Sparky's Avatar
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    Lower heater hose connection. Follow that down and it elbows in to the block just before the water pump. That elbow is metal, and no, you can't replace it. It is cast into the tensioner assembly as one piece. It may need a new O ring though when you take it off.


    The one for the upper heater hose connection is a plastic elbow. That one you'll definitely replace.

    And for direct comparison:

    Yours, with integrated elbow


    98+ without integrated elbow - see how it is cut off looking?
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Sparky; 04-27-2011 at 05:10 PM.
    - Jared
    1999 Camaro 3.8L A4. Cammed, so kind of fast.
    2007.5 Silverado LT Z71 5.3L 4x4. Slight lift, bigger-ish tires, not a slouch but slower than the car.


  12. #11
    Ok - THAT is what i was looking for. Thanks Jared!

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