Custom Oil Cooler

With the TRD oil cooler out of production, and encouraged by Blue Bomber’s writeup on how to install oil pressure sensors, I decided to tackle the challange of installing a custom oil cooler. This was a pretty hard install, mostly because you need a lot of tools (including a belt sander, a vice, a hack saw, an oil filter wrench, and some big ass wrenches).

The parts:

10ft Braided Hose (Summit, AER-FCA1010)
Fitting for filter side (Summit, EAR-840110)
Fitting for cooler side (Summit, SUM-220087)
Setrab Oil Cooler (, 619-10)
Holly Sandwich Adapter w/ thermostat (Summit, EAR-502)
K&N Oil Filter (Summit, KNN-HP-1003)
Redline 10W30 Oil (6 quarts)
Teflon Tape (Summit, SUM-220000)
Nylon Mounting Kit (Summit, FLX-3910)
zip ties
spare rubber (garage door seal @ home depot)
Oil catch pan (any car part store)

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Start by jacking up the front of the car (no need to remove the wheels), and removing the bumper and passenger side under plastics. If you have a deep metric socket set, it helps to also remove the crash bar (I didn’t).

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Put the oil cooler on a secure surface, install the fitting adapters that came with it (coat the little gaskets with oil, and make sure to counter hold the cooler with a wrench when tightening them).
Now attach the first cooler side hose fitting (90 deg bent) to the one 10ft stainless steel braided hose, following the instructions below. A single 10 ft piece cut to size was enough for me (the picture above shows more pieces I used for a different project) DON’T CUT THE HOSE yet. You can use motoroil to help seal the fittings. I put two pieces of aluminum angle in the vice before clamping the fitting to protect it.

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Loosely attach the hose to the cooler, have somebody hold the cooler against the AC condensor where you want to mount it (I put mine all the way in the bottom driver side corner), and figure out where to route the hose to the oil filter. My wheel plastics were already cut for the CAI, so I went around the fog light and through that same hole. Leave about 6″ slack and mark the hose. Then tape it with duct, masking, or strapping tape (important!), and cut it with a hack saw.

Now install the second oil cooler side fitting to the hose, and test fit it as well. Finally install the oil filter side fittings to the hoses. DON’T TIGHTEN FITTINGS to the cooler yet.

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Before installing the oil cooler, you should pre-fill it. This avoids a large air bubble in your oil supply when you first start up the car. Put it on a flat surface, then poor oil into the cooler (a funnel or hand pump helps). It takes about 2/3 of a quart to fill it so you can see the oil just inside the opening. Now mount the hoses to it using teflon tape to seal the threads. Again counter hold when tightening. Align the fitting closer to the center of the car to be parallel to the cooler, and the other one to point slightly to the back of the car.

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Now mount the cooler using the nylon ties. Unscrew the two bolts on the top of the AC condensor to be able to reach behind it. The bottom driver side screw on the condensor is connected to a rubber mount. Just slightly lift the condensor (no need to unscrew this one), and you will be able to rotate it away from the radiator behind it. Don’t rotate it too much, or you might damage the lines going to it on the passenger side.

The nylon ties go on in this sequence: bolt, washer, cooler, rubber block, condensor, nut. The rubber will prevent the cooler from rubbing against the condensor when vibrating. Trim the nylon bolts with snips so they don’t stick out through the radiator and block the cooling fans. During this process it helps to hold up the hoses so the oil you pre-filled into the cooler cannot drip out. After all for nylon ties are in place, ireattach the condensor (insert the rubber mount on bottom, two bolts on top), and it should look like this.

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Stainless steel braided hose will act like a file and literally grind through anything it touches if it vibrates. Use the rubber and zip ties to protect any electrical connections or plastic (e.g. CAI) that is in contact with the hose.

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If you haven’t done so already, drain the oil from the car and remove the filter. To get the filter off you may need an oil filter wrench. Use one that attaches to a socket wrench / ratchet, not the kind that has a steel or rubber band and a handle. There is no room to turn the handle type – you need to use a ratchet with an extension that connects to the oil filter wrench tool (I got mine at Sears). This is a pick before removing the old filter.

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There is very little space between the oil filter and the oil pan. Out of the box the sandwich adapter will not fit. The adapter is a universal piece, with a car specific center thread/bolt. On the engine side, the adapter has two ring seal gaskets. You only need the inner seal on the celica (the outer one is too big in diameter and useless). To make the adapter fit, remove the two gaskets, and sand down the adapter so that all material outside of the larger ring seal is removed on the curved part.

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Thoroughly clean off any metal filings, then put the inner gasket seal bag in the groove, coat it in oil, and install the adapter under the car with the provided center nut. Connect the hoses (seal with teflon thred), pre-fill the oil filter with oil and screw it on as well. Turning the fittings into the adapter block is pretty hard in the crammed space, so test fit the adapter, and then thread in the hoses just enough to hold them on, then install the adapter, then tighten the hoses. Lastly screw on the oil filter.

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Make sure the drain plug is back in and refill the oil (you’ll need at least 5 1/2 quarts counting what you already used to pre-fill the filter and cooler). Check all your connections for tight fit. Run the engine for a minute or two, then let it sit and check the oil level. Top it off until it is between the oil max and min lines. Since the adapter has a thermostat, make sure to recheck the oil level after you have driven it to full operating temperature (which would have caused the valve to fully open and fill up the lines to the cooler). I used about 5 2/3 qt all together.

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Put some clean card board under the car for the first night to make sure nothing is leaking.

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