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J-Mac Radiator Blog

Salt Lake City, Utah Radiator Repair and Service blog by J-Mac Radiators. 3520 South State Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84115.

Top Signs That It Is Time For A New Car Radiator

Eric Flores - Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Over time, car radiators age. As they age, a variety of issues can arise signaling to the car owner that it is time to replace the radiator. Radiators can sustain damage that is irreparable, and this will also result in the need to replace the radiator. It can be necessary to replace the radiator in order to prevent multiple future breakdowns.


Old radiators can develop cracks and pin holes.


Radiators are made of metal. Almost all metal ages and weakens due to oxidation. As the metal in your radiator weakens, it becomes susceptible to decay and failure. The constant heating up and cooling down of the radiator causes the same stress on the metal as bending a piece of wire back and forth in the same area on the wire. It will eventually break. In the care of your care radiator, the break is a crack along a tube that drains the coolant from the top to the bottom of the radiator. Under pressure a great deal of coolant can be lost very quickly.


Pin holes are created by oxidation of the metal in the radiator.


Everyone is familiar with rust that forms on unprotected iron. This is oxidation. Oxidation is a corrosion that erodes the amount of metal available. As time passes, more and more of the metal oxidizes until small openings or pin holes start to appear. The high pressure inside the hot cooling system of the car will spray coolant though these tiny pores as you drive. Stop leak and other home remedies can slow the leaks for a while. The only real permanent fix is to replace the radiator. 

 

A badly clogged radiator can need replacement. 

 

Radiators can get clogged or blocked in two or three ways. Debris from inside hoses or the water pump can break loose and lodge in the radiator core. The accumulation of this material over a few years will reduce the cooling efficiency of the car radiator. Likewise, small amounts of oxidation residue can join the party and increase the chances of the car overheating. If stop leak is added to this mix, flushing the radiator and cooling system will probably not product effective results. A radiator replace is the only sure option.

 

Damage to the front end of a vehicle often results in radiator problems.

 

If a collision of any type creates significant movement of the car's front end materials, the radiator will be affected. Older radiators can even be damaged by the jolt of the impact. In older cars, the radiator may be forced backward onto the metal blades of the cooling fan. This can create immediate and extensive radiator damage. In newer cars, the radiator is cooled by an electric fan that will have little effect on the metal car radiator. However, pieces of the material from the front of the car can still impact the radiator core. The crash can bend or crack the unit. Any of these types of issues can be enough to force the need for a radiator replacement.

How to Replace Your Car’s Radiator

Eric Flores - Thursday, October 23, 2014

Radiators on older model cars were made of copper and brass alloys. This made them easy to repair by soldering the cracks or holes that caused leakage.

 

However, a number of later model cars include radiators with aluminum cores, which have plastic top and bottom tanks. These newer radiators can be damaged by forcing off a hose, over tightening a clip or even by improperly removing the pressure cap.


Damage to the new radiators is impossible for a home mechanic to repair, usually resulting in the replacement of the whole radiator. The one good thing about replacing the newer radiators, is that they are lighter than the old ones and usually have simple fittings which make them easier to remove.


Safety first

Before starting, disconnect the battery to remove any radiator that has electrical connections.


Drain the radiator

Make sure the engine is cold, then take off or release the pressure cap on the radiator. Some cars have a tap or drain plug in the bottom of the radiator, open it and the radiator should drain.


If no water comes out, poke the drain-plug hole gently with a piece of wire, or unscrew and remove the tap. However, if there isn’t a plug, or you are unable to clear the blockage with the wire, disconnect the bottom hose where it attaches to the radiator.


Drain the coolant into a clean container, then strain it through muslin to remove the rust or dirt so that you can save it and re-use it in the new radiator if its still good. Check the strength of the solution with an antifreeze hydrometer.


Watch it

While you are disconnecting and removing the radiator from the vehicle, pay close attention to the parts you remove and how you remove them. When installing the new radiator you will be attaching the same parts, in the same way you removed them from the old radiator. You may want to make notes, draw a diagram or even take a picture of the radiator before removing it. This will save you a headache later, if you forget how to attach something or if you forget to attach something.


Remove the hoses

Loosen the hose clips and ease off the hoses by gently twisting them back and forth. Don’t try to pry the them off with a screwdriver: you may wind up damaging the hoses, if you plan to reinstall the current ones. If you plan to replace the rubber hoses, it is much easier to just cut the old ones off.


Oil and transmission fluid cooling lines

Before disconnecting the oil and transmission fluid cooling lines, get another container ready to catch any oil or transmission fluid that will leak out. Next, unscrew both lines from the bottom of the radiator and let the oil, left in the lines, drain into the container. Place plastic sandwich bags over the ends of each line and fasten them with rubber bands. This will keep oil from leaking out onto the ground or garage floor.


Make sure you check, and top off, the oil and transmission fluid when you are finished installing the new radiator.


Clear the way

See if there are any fan-shroud pieces to remove, that will allow you to remove the radiator from the vehicle. However, there is a chance that you will only need to unscrew the radiator mounting clips. After the clips are removed carefully remove the radiator from the vehicle, making sure it doesn’t get hung up on any other parts and that there isn’t anything else attached to it.


Install new radiator

Before starting, set both radiators side by side and check the new one over carefully to make sure it is a match to the old one. Gently guide the new radiator into place, be very careful not to bend any of the cooling fins. Damaged fins will diminish the radiator’s ability to cool the engine properly.


Next install the clips and make sure the radiator is secure. Screw in the oil and transmission fluid cooling lines, being careful to line them up properly so you don’t strip the threads, which cause a leak.


When reattaching the hoses, tighten the clips firmly, but don’t over tighten them, which could cause the clips to cut into the hoses or crush the plastic stubs on the radiator.


Refill the radiator

After you are sure everything is connected properly, fill the radiator with the mixture of coolant/antifreeze recommended by your specific auto company. Also check and refill the oil and transmission fluid as necessary, due to leakage.


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