Project 92 SC - Cooling

The stock Saturn radiator has always performed well for me in the different types of track events that I've done. I've never had a problem with the stock cooling system being able to keep up. There is one big weak point in the stock radiator, however - its end tanks are plastic, and most of the Saturn owners that I know have had them crack in their old age.

Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of options when it comes to radiator upgrades.  These are the ones I've seen so far for the S-Series:

 Rock Auto offers an OEM replacement radiator of the brand GDI/Transpro for 1994 and up models for about $110 that is specified on their site as a "2-row" (when all other references I've seen refer to the Saturn radiator as a 1-row.  Part number on it is 431351 and more information can be found HERE.
 Qksltwo has offered radiators for sale on the forums with a thicker core than stock.  You can visit his personal website HERE. offers high-performance custom-built aluminum radiators for Saturn on eBay.  See their items for sale HERE.
 In the past, I've read on a Saturn forum that Twistec Performance offered a radiator upgrade, but their website no longer seems to be anything more than one page with an address on it.
 Be Cool offers an all-aluminum radiator with 1.5" core.  Part number 65008 fits 94 - 02 manual trans, although it requires zip ties or other alternate methods of securing the AC condenser to the radiator.  Be Cool's website doesn't have a picture, but I have seen one on eBay and the radiator looks identical to the Fluidyne.  This radiator can be ordered from Summit Racing.
 Fluidyne sells a monster 4-core all-aluminum radiator, and I've mainly seen it offered on Saturn Motorsports' website (although the store section of their website no longer seems to be available).  You can also find it offered several other places on the web by firing up Google.  Its part number is listed as FHP11-02SAT-S.

The Fluidyne radiator looks to be the best option available for a Saturn.  I've seen it offered on only a few online vendor websites, and the price it is sold at often borders on obscene. Before purchasing something like this, ask yourself if you truly need it - and skip it if you don't.  If you do feel that your vehicle needs the extra cooling capacity or will truly benefit from it, be sure to fire up a search engine and shop around prior to buying.

There is one main reason I bought the Fluidyne - I found it used for a deal that made it too good to pass up. While my car doesn't really need it right now, future plans will make it a necessity during long hard sessions on the road course.

Click the thumbnails below to view a larger-sized image.

Top view.


Front view.


Passenger side view.

This unit is TIG-welded aluminum, and its construction makes it a work of art. While it is heavier than the stock unit by 7 lbs (stock weight is 4 lbs, Fluidyne is 11 lbs), this thing is built like a tank. It is all metal, and there's not a plastic piece on it.

For some reason, Fluidyne only makes this radiator for 1994 and up S-Series cars even though there are only minor differences in the radiators between the two groups of years (1991-1993, and 1994+).

The earlier radiators have the side support brackets near the bottom mounted lower, as the forward part of the cradle where the radiator mounts is slightly lower.

The pins on the lower radiator mounting brackets were extended about an inch and a half with poly pipe fittings purchased from a local hardware store.

Since these pieces only locate the bottom of the radiator and support it vertically, the fact that they're not as strong as they would be if they were metal should not pose a problem. The two brackets at the top of the radiator which do more of a job of holding it in place fit perfectly, as they were the same between all years of Saturn radiators.

Two of four mounting points where the fan & shroud assembly attaches to the radiator are slightly different as well.  One of these is shown at the left.

Rather than hacking up my '92 fan shroud assembly to attach to this radiator's different mounting points, I made a trip to a local junkyard and picked one up from a 94. One thing I did notice however - the fan shroud assembly for a 1991-1993 (top in photo) mounts the fan closer to the driver's side of the radiator. The shroud assembly for 1994+ (bottom in photo) mounts it closer to center. In addition, the Fluidyne is thicker than stock and provides a bit less space between the exhaust header area and the radiator itself.

Once the shroud and fan were mounted to the radiator, the fan motor now looked to be about 1.5 inches closer to the header than it was previously. Since some of the wire loom I've added in that area already has heat deformations (loom must be lower than stock quality), I added a piece of sheetmetal as heat shield around the fan motor for a bit of added safety. A piece of round metal heating duct pipe was the donor, and it is held in place by the stock snap-in wire loom holders which already mount in that area.

Since the cooling system was drained for this job, I chose to replace the coolant expansion tank at the same time as well. Hairline cracks were visible in the old one, and based on two of these that I've had to replace prior, it means a leak is soon to come. A low-mileage tank in better condition was picked up from my local junkyard for a couple of bucks.
Refilling the radiator shows that its coolant capacity doesn't seem to be much more than the stock radiator despite it's obvious physically-larger size.

Rear view, no fan.


Front view from bottom.


  Front view
So is it effective at actually reducing temps during track use? Let me get some track time in, and I'll be sure to report back here.


Back (1.8k)Back to Project Log       Home (2k)Home