Chevy SSR: Radiator Expansion Tank Replacement


Our Project SSR has had a few bouts with overheating issues. First, we had the heater core crossover pipe fail (see our cheap fix here!), and now we had our expansion tank fail. Needless to say, it’s a bit frustrating but, under-hood temperatures are a problem given the swoopy styling of the SSR. Luckily, this fix is about as simple as you can get and cheap as well.

Parts for this DIY:

  • SSR Expansion Tank
  • SSR Expansion Tank Cap

Tools You’ll Need:

  • Full Socket and Wrench Set

The problem with the expansion tank on the SSR is that it’s plastic. As such, over the years the high heat found within the engine compartment will make things brittle. The tank will tend to break in the areas where the tubing attaches. This is because the pipes leading out of the expansion tank have metal inserts so that the plastic does not become crushed when tightening hose clamps.


You can see in these next two photos how the tank will look normal, but in reality, the tubing has already failed. Since the Expansion Tank is under pressure, any failure in the structure of the tank will lead to leaks.


A new Expansion Tank could potentially be difficult to find for such a low volume car. However, given the SSR’s GM roots, the tank is shared with several other vehicles (mostly Malibu and Grand Am). A new tank will cost you $40-$70 at the most. As always, do a quick side-by-side comparison before installing, just in case.


To install the tank there are only a couple bolts which are easily accessible. Don’t overtighten them when installing as the new tank is after all just plastic.


Lastly, make sure to install a new Cap. They’re affordable and since they have o-rings inside, it’s cheap insurance.


Your last step is to make sure the coolant system if filled up and free of any air bubbles. Try to burp the system by hand first and then run the engine intermittently a few times so the coolant can cycle through the system. If you’re low on coolant you’ll see the level drop in the Expansion Tank.



With that, you should be good to go. When changing the Expansion Tank we also went ahead and changed the Water Pump, but we’ll cover that in another post. Just remember to keep your SSR nice and cool, and she’ll treat you right!

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