systems are not maintained, it can cause cooling problems, overheating
and radiator failure. Today’s coolants last a long time (up to 5 years
or 150,000 miles, which ever comes first), but they are not lifetime
coolants. Eventually, the corrosion inhibitors in the antifreeze wear
out and allow electrolytic corrosion to attack the system from the
The most vulnerable components in the cooling system
are the radiator and heater core, especially lead soldered copper/brass
heat exchangers in older vehicles. Aluminum radiators and heater cores
in newer vehicles are better able to withstand the corrosive effects of
worn-out coolant, but not forever. Eventually, the metal will be eaten
away, creating pinholes that allow the radiator to leak. This type of
damage is usually too extensive to risk patching, so replacing the
radiator core or the radiator itself is usually necessary.
aluminum radiators have plastic end tanks. Plastic won’t rust or
corrode, but it can be eroded by sediment circulating in dirty coolant.
Sediment can have an abrasive effect that scours away at the soft
plastic. Plastic also doesn’t handle severe overheating very well
either. Hot steam can literally melt a hole right through an end tank!
rubber seal between the plastic end tanks and the radiator core can
also be a source of trouble. Vibration and thermal
expansion/contraction can loosen the seal, causing the radiator to
leak. This type of leak can be difficult to repair because the core is
clamped to the end tank. Repairing an end tank leak requires special
equipment and the services of a radiator repair shop. Cooling system
sealer may temporarily plug a small leak, but sooner or later the
radiator will have to be repaired or replaced.
Clogging is another
problem that can prevent a radiator from cooling properly. Rust and
scale in the cooling system can clog up the small passageways in small
radiator tubes. Cleaning the cooling system may get rid of most of the
contaminants. But a clogged radiator can be very difficult to clean,
and usually has to be removed and disassembled for professional
cleaning in a hot tank, or replaced.
Repairs at a radiator shop
can be time-consuming and expensive, often taking several days and
costing hundreds of dollars. That’s why replacement radiators have
become so popular. They are cost-competitive with what most radiator
shops charge to repair a radiator, and there’s no delay. Just remove
the old radiator and replace it with a new one.
replacement radiators are available in a wide variety of materials,
designs and sizes. What’s important here is matching (or exceeding) the
cooling performance of the original. Some replacement radiators provide
improved cooling performance with additional rows of tubes, added
thickness and/or a more efficient design.
For some applications,
there may be an aluminum or copper/brass radiator available as a
replacement option. There’s usually not a huge difference in price, so
cooling performance and weight may be the main features to consider.
Aluminum is typically lighter while copper has excellent heat transfer
characteristics. However, the overall cooling performance of a
replacement radiator will vary depending on its design and size.
width, height and thickness of a new radiator should match that of the
old radiator for ease of installation unless the customer wants a
larger radiator for improved cooling performance. The size and location
of the hose connections and ATF cooler connections on the radiator (if
used) must also be similar to those on the original radiator.
also important to replace the radiator cap along with the radiator. Old
radiator caps can leak pressure and cause an engine to overheat. A new
thermostat should also be recommended, along with a new upper and lower
Your customer will also need antifreeze and water
(distilled or deionized is recommended). A 50/50 mix of antifreeze and
water is the standard recommendation for year-round freezing and