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Technical Corner : Project Cars : Eclipse GS-T Last Updated: Aug 16th, 2006 - 11:01:00

Oil Cooler Install
By Jacob Isaac-Lowry
Oct 10, 2004, 21:54

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Since the Eclipse was having some problems with overheating, as most DSM's do when a front mount IC is placed in front of the AC heat exchanger which is placed in front of the radiator, we decided to upgrade the factory water/oil cooler to a more efficient better cooling air/oil setup.

Factory new external oil filter housing with the -AN adaptors and fittings screwed in When doing this upgraded there are several components of the oil cooler system that need to be obtained. In most oil cooler kits you receive an adaptor that attaches in between the oil filter and the factory filter mount, hoses, a thermostat, and the heat exchanger itself. Fortunately for us the 89-90 DSM's came with an air/oil cooler from the factory. Since the 97 GS-T already has a 6-bolt in it, we just had to purchase on of the 89-90 oil filter housings to slap one. These factory pieces have the ports for the oil cooler lines and an oil thermostat built into the housing. A pretty nice solution. The oil cooler that we opted to go with is a Setrab cooler, rumored to be the best out there. The size we used was the 119-6, it's about 5.5" square and has -6 AN inlet and outlet ports. We used -6 braided hose for the oil lines and a pair of M16-1.5 to -6 AN adaptors to connect the lines to our oil filter housing.

Existing oil filter housing bolted to the motor, note the 4th bolt that is hidden behind the timing cover Once all the parts arrived, we were able to get started. First things first, we jacked the car up and removed the driver side wheel, splash guard, and fender liner. With those pieces off, the factory oil filter housing was staring us in the face. Despite the fact that you can see 3 of the 4 bolts that hold the housing to the front case, getting that last mystery bolt out is a real pain. I imagine there is a way to get the bolt out by prying the timing cover back or drilling an access hole, however personally, I just take the accessory pulleys off and pull the whole timing cover. This lets us easily removes the filter housing and gives me a chance to inspect the timing belt and components.

Old filter and water/oil cooler removed The two oil filter housings sitting next to each other.  On the new housings you can see one of the brass plugs that had to be removed
In order to use the factory new housing, we had to remove the brass plug in the top oil passage in order to install the turbo oil feed line. This turned out to be an unbelievable pain. After and hour of heating with a torch, using an impact wrench, and trying a huge breaker bar, we had to have the plug removed professionally. $20 later, the guy told us he had to cut the plug down the middle, collapse it from the outside and then remove it. Stupid factory thread locker. Once the plug was out, we could go ahead and mount the new housing. We used the old gasket because it had less than 1000 miles on it and it could be removed in one piece. Take a look at the clean new filter housing.

New oil filter housing mounted to the block The next step was to mount the cooler itself. We found a nice spot just in front of the splash guard. There was an existing bolt hole and everything. All we needed to do was to make a small bracket to support the other side of the cooler and presto, everything bolted up. See the picture for detail. One side note, we did have to relocate the horn to another place under the bumper because it was in the way. Not a big deal.

With the cooler and housing bolted on and ready to go and after putting the timing cover and pulleys back on, the only thing left to do was to make and attach the lines. When I first looked that the metric adaptor fittings that I had purchased, I realized that they weren't quite what I had wanted. After a phone call to Jeg's it turned out that these fittings were for GM power steering pumps. They had a really small inlet with an O-ring at the bottom and then opened up at the other side to the full -6 size. This was no good, so a little "machining" was in order.

We first cut off the protruding section at the bottom of the adaptor that held the little O-ring. Next we cleaned up the cut and threads and then drilled out the small opening in the bottom of the adaptor to the same size as the larger -6 opening on the top side.

Comparason of a cut and drilled adaptor to the original
Lastly, because these are straight metric thread, there needs to be something to seal the adaptors to the housing. Originally these adaptors had that little O-ring to prevent fluid from seeping by. However we cut those off. The solution? A quick trip to the hardware store to find a set of O-rings that would do the job. O-ring fitted onto the adaptor

With the adaptor fittings threaded it. The rest of the job was as simple as measuring and cutting the hose and putting the hose ends on. Below are a couple pictures of the whole assembly installed on the car before the wheel and plastic covers went back one.

Oil cooler mounted to frame with lines attached Oil cooler mounted to frame with lines attached

One world of caution, make sure that all the fittings are properly tightened on the car before you start it up. We made that mistake and left the -6 connections only hand tight. We left a nice little oil slick on the drive way before realizing our slip up.

All in all, the install wasn't too bad and anyone with some amount of wrenching confidence can tackle this project. Just make sure you have some time for unforeseen delays such as having to go get the brass plug removed and machining the fittings, etc. Hopefully this cooler will keep the oil temperature down in the engine, which should keep everything a little cooler and protect against oil breakdown under demanding open track conditions.

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