VW Jetta front radiator support carrier removal and replacement
How to remove the front radiator support on a VW TDI
This DIY shows how to remove the front carrier or radiator support on a mk5 VW Jetta. A similar procedure applies to the mk5, mk6 Golf and Sportwagen, and Audi A3. The radiator fan can be replaced from behind and I believe you may be able to replace the radiator itself without removing the support. I'm sure you cannot remove the AC condenser or intercooler without removing the support because the screws are located in front.
NOTE - there are aftermarket radiator supports available for much cheaper than the OEM support. However, I bought an OEM one because the upper plastic section has metal behind it and is a structural piece. Any small problem in fitment could mean the bumper, grille, or headlights would be slightly crooked or rubbing. In general, aftermarket body parts work but sometimes have fitment issues.
T25, T30 torx screws
metric socket set
radiator support varies by model and is a dealer part anyways, please contact your dealer for the part number.
Remove the front bumper skin. Refer to 1000q: mk5 bumper removal or 1000q: mk5 Cup Edition bumper removal for more details. Mk6 models similar.
Remove the headlights (3x torx screws). I suggest putting tape around the upper and lower front fender points once the headlight is loose because they're sharp and it could scratch the lenses.
While you're here you can remove the 2x T30 bolts next to the upper headlight bolt. Note the alignment of the radiator support before removal. There should be dirt marks and outlines to guide you.
Remove the lower headlight plastic bumper support things. Each is held by 2x torx screws (white arrows below).
Remove the bumper. There are some torx screws on each support (yellow arrows in the picture above) and 4 bolts/side. There are also 2 torx bolts in the center.
Disconnect all electrical plugs and the hood release cable. The major plugs are the hood latch switch, airbag sensors, and boost sensor (next to the boost hose). The airbag sensor plugs have a blue lock which must be pushed in before you can pull the plug out. Their locations can be seen in a later picture.
There's also an outside air temp sensor in front which can be unclipped.
Disconnect the hood release cable union by unclipping the plastic cover, then pulling the ball end out.
The radiator assembly hangs from 2 mounts which have a single torx screw each, indicated below. Remove these. The bottom has 2 pegs which prevent it from moving back-forth but are not weight bearing.
Tilt the radiator back and then you can lift it out of the bottom pegs. The white arrow below points to the hanging radiator mounts. They're actually on the intercooler and must be aligned when you put the radiator assembly back. Here you can also see the screws holding the AC to the intercooler - they're facing the front. Do not let the assembly hang by the hoses! Rest it on a support. If you put something in the site donation box I can buy a better stool
Here's the backside of the radiator support. The white arrows are the position of the hood latch switch and airbag sensors. Transfer over the sensors, latch, and air snorkel if you're replacing it.
Installation is the reverse of removal.