Cool It! What Is The Best Radiator For Jeep TJ?

Is your radiator acting funny? Thinking about replacing your Jeep TJ radiator? If you are like me then you aren’t taking it to a shop to have them fix it. I am spending a Saturday and ripping it out and putting a new one in myself. It’s not above my abilities and with Youtube, I can do anything!

Luckily the Jeep TJ radiator replacements on the market are mostly of good quality. You do have a lot of options so choosing one that is right for you is important.

What is the best radiator for Jeep TJ? If you happen to own a Jeep Wrangler, you must know the answer to the question: What is the best radiator for Jeep TJ? Let’s see why.

The Iconic Status Of The Jeep TJ

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The Jeep is an iconic off-road sports utility vehicle, several models of which had reached near-mythical status even during the American Motor Company (AMC) days. Among all the Jeep models, perhaps the original flavor is retained by the Jeep Wrangler (TJ) – the second generation of this particular line of vehicles that had been introduced in 1996 as a new 1997 model.

Chrysler, who had bought the Jeep brand, produced the Jeep Wrangler (TJ) for a decade (1996-2006). All models on the road now are therefore older cars. Like all off-road vehicles, the Jeep (TJ) vehicles have had a number of issues. But that rarely dampens the enthusiasm of the Jeep enthusiasts.

Importance To Learn About Radiator Care?

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The radiator is critical. Cars generate a lot of heat, which could easily damage the engine and components around them. The coolant system (usually water mixed with antifreeze) circulates water through the system to keep the engine temperature down to a comfortable level.

The radiator is where the water/coolant mixture ends up – its core job is to dissipate the heat from the mixture as quickly as possible, so it can travel back up through the system. If the radiator doesn’t do its job, the car engine will overheat, and bad things will proceed to happen.

When you are driving an off-road vehicle such as the Jeep Wrangler (TJ), the issues of overheating become even more pressing.

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Own A Jeep TJ? You Definitely Need To Your Radiator

There are two main reasons

  1. The average radiator lasts 8-10 years, especially if they are made from plastic. The Jeep Wrangler (TJ) stopped being made in 2006. So, if you own one, chances are that you have replaced the radiator at least once and will likely need to keep doing that given the rough use that Jeeps are typically put through.
  2. Problems often reported by owners often referred to radiator-related issues as to why Jeep Wranglers overheat.

Specific causes could include coolant leaks or the radiator fan failing, etc. So, any owners and off-road enthusiasts should have a good idea of what is the best radiator for Jeep TJ.

What Should You Look For In A Good Radiator?

In general, a good replacement radiator for a rough terrain vehicle of some vintage should be gauged on standard features such as cooling, safety, longevity, durability, and affordability. Other factors, such as ease of installation and customer service, may also factor into your choice.

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To become more granular and specific, here are a few things that radiators for Jeeps (especially for the Jeep TJ model) may be looking for, including but not limited to:

  • Coolant capacity
  • Material that is lightweight and able to withstand some strain (due to rough terrain use)
  • Relatively easy installation
  • Suitable for use in racing or rough terrain cars which experience more overheating than normal cars – 3-row radiators are often preferred for superior performance design
  • Transmission cooling capability
  • Durability and Longevity especially with offroad rough use
  • Quality testing
  • Price

In addition to the considerations above, the best models will work with both automatic and manual transmissions. Always check for fit before buying.

The Best Radiators For Jeep TJ Models

There are a number of radiators in the market that are considered to be good fits for Jeep TJs. Radiators suitable for use with Jeep TJs will typically be marked as suitable for Jeeps in the 1987-2006 time period and will often mention TJs specifically.

Below, I provide you with some descriptions of the units along with some of the pros and cons of each unit and why you should or shouldn’t buy it.

The Top Pick: Tiziri 87-06 Jeep Wrangler Radiator

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This radiator is the only one on this list that sports a 3-row core. It’s an all-aluminum Jeep Wrangler radiator is for the YJ & TJ models from 1987-2006. This radiator is suitable for use with 2.4L, 2.5L, 4.0L, 4.2L, L4, and L6 auto engines. It is built from aircraft 5057-grade aluminum and has a raw aluminum finish.

This unit cools approximately 35-45% more than other radiators due to its superior racing car, 3-row core design. It has a built-in transmission cooler. It is extensively performance tested. One added advantage is that relatively easy to install.

This radiator basically needs less power to work as it’s more efficient than all the others on this list. The Tiziri Jeep TJ radiator’s fit and finish are excellent and its reliability is solid as well. If you do run into some issues their post-sale customer service isn’t the best so if it comes up, take this into consideration. Available only on Amazon currently.

3-row core design makes for superior performance and efficiencyMost expensive on this list
Extensively tested, shows endurance, durability, and longevityProblems reported with warranty and customer service
Built-in transmission cooler
Easy to install

My Second Pick: STAYCO CU2101 Radiator

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The CU2101 radiator has a high-density fin core, which boosts efficiency and overall performance. This translates to better cooling in warmer weather.

An added feature is the thermal gasket, which makes this STAYCO unit ideal for use in colder climates (it works well in the heat as well).

This is sort of a proprietary feature you don’t see very often. This may be a deal-breaker for some driving in extreme weather fairly often.

This unit is not easy to install if you are not the most experienced mechanic. So think about asking a professional mechanic for tips or help. Buy it on eBay.

best radiator for Jeep TJ, Mad Digi
High-fin density leads to superior performance with high efficiency, even during trying weather conditionsLongterm reliability
The thermal shock gasket enhances the ability to withstand extreme coldNot easy to install, may need cutting and drilling prior to installation
Some of the best packaging to ensure that shipped item arrives intact

The Direct Replacement: Mopar 5503 7652AA Radiator

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Like most MOPAR parts, this radiator works with superior cooling and fits easily into Jeep TJs. Fit and finish are OEM so that is a nonissue.

The frame is usually plastic (shown in the photo below), but it’s known for durability and reliability. You can find it in full metal construction, though pricing can reflect that.

If you are doing more off-roading you will want a full metal constructed radiator. Well, you will settle for one after buying plastic frames that will not last as long as others on this list.

best radiator for Jeep TJ, Mad Digi

The Mopar CU2101 radiator fins are somewhat longer which are designed to boost efficiency and overall performance. it is something to think about if you live in a climate with large temperature swings (This may be overkill for Florida residents).

This Mopar radiator is relatively easy to put in and take out. It should be relatively the same as the radiator you are pulling out. Though the prices are a bit higher, the longevity of the radiator typically matches or exceeds the original Jeep TJ radiator. 

High-fin density leads to superior performance with high efficiency, even during trying weather conditionsHas some longevity concerns
The thermal shock gasket enhances the ability to withstand extreme cold
Exact Fit

The Cheap Fix: Spectra Complete CU2101

best radiator for Jeep TJ, Mad Digi

Manufactured from high-quality material for extended durability, this model is subjected to both aging and rigorous testing to ensure performance in testing weather conditions.

Other features that enhance performance, durability, and longevity include increased tube wall thickness. OE Clevis pins and stress cuts are included as part of the design to reduce stress and prevent warping during thermal expansion.

Fit and finish aren’t on par with the other radiators on this list and you will witness this when installing it in your Jeep TJ. That being said, if you have more time and know-how than money this could be your pick out of all on the list. Buy it on Amazon.

Enhanced performance, durability, and longevity due to material and engineering.Doesn't fit as well as competitors
Designed to reduce stress, wear and tearReliability issues
Seasoning and rigorous testing extend the life of the radiator

Direct Replacement Plus: OzCoolingParts 87-06 Jeep Wrangler Radiator

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Upgrade 4 Row Core Aluminum Radiator for 1987-2006. This radiator is made with high-grade T-6061 aluminum.

It has, of course, a standard 4-core racing design that supports high performance with superior cooling (up to 45% more than normal) for all weather and terrain conditions.

It is a direct replacement that fits like the OEM Jeep TJ radiator. But it is better quality than what comes out of Mopar. The price reflects that but some people want and need this type of quality.

This radiator unit has been designed and manufactured to typically exceed the performance of the original units they are replacing. Get it on Amazon.

Superior material and design for high endurance and efficient performancePricey
4-core design cools significantly more than basic modelsComplaints about tube quality and developing cracks

Possible Overkill: ALLOYWORKS 4 Row Full Aluminum Radiator

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A 4-row tube core racing design made from full, lightweight, and high-heat transferring aluminum, this radiator works with 2.4L- 4.2L, as well as L4 and L6 engines.

If you are looking for the most bulletproof radiator on this list you are looking at it. It may be too much for most people and they can get away with a cheaper radiator that fills all their needs. But some want more and this radiator for your Jeep TJ should be your choice.

100% TIG welded, the model incorporates a tube and fin design that increases surface area that enables the heat to dissipate more efficiently the part promises 40% more cooling than stock designs and a full range of performance and endurance testing prior to being sold.

Alloyworks is a reputable brand. They are everywhere and they make high-quality cooling products for your most wild 4×4 creations. Of course, their price reflects that, but if you want possibly the longest-lasting radiator on this list don’t look any further. Get it on Amazon.

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4-row design ensures superior performance in testing conditionsPriced on the higher side
Rigorous performance testing done before being soldHarder to fix small problems due to 4 core design
High-heat transferring material and tube-fin design ensure significant cooling
Easy to install

Your Jeep TJ remains an iconic product and you want to enjoy it in the ambiance of the great outdoors, in all kinds of terrain and weather. Finding the best radiator for Jeep TJ Wranglers that won’t fail and strand you in the middle of the wilderness is key and will keep you happy.

You can beat up your truck in a lot of ways, but you won’t want to beat up your radiator. We hope this article helps point you in the right direction.