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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.

Is It Time To Think About Radiator Maintenance?

Eric Flores - Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Do you get a physical every year or just wait until you’re REALLY sick to go to the doctor? It’s probably a little of both, but I’m sure you do a lot of preventative maintenance, like taking vitamins, eating healthy, and exercising, to keep your body healthy and to stay away from the doctor’s office.

 

Well, your car needs the same TLC that your body does! I’m sure you know about the basic types of maintenance that a car needs – your oil changed, your tires rotated, your windows cleaned, etc. – but what about your radiator? Do you ever check that? Maybe you should.

 

Regular radiator maintenance is an important and integral part of the overall “health” of your car. An engine’s cooling system is relatively simple when it comes to its design. Why? Well, it’s because your engine has to remain at a certain temperature in order to work properly otherwise you could have engine failure. So, knowing some basic radiator maintenance is absolutely essential for any who owns a vehicle.

 

What does your radiator do? Well, radiators keep your engine cool while it’s working and your car is working, driving you around from place to place. Radiators are like the “wingman” of your car’s engine. Without your radiator, your engine would not last through the cold nights and would easily overheat during simple drives.

 

Here are some simple tips you can use to maintain your radiator:

- Keep your radiator fluid filled! Coolant or radiator fluid should be used in a 50/50 mixture with water. You can purchase a pre-mixed bottle of 50/50 Coolant from your local auto repair shops.

- Make sure your radiator cap is on tight. Your radiator cap is designed to help keep your coolant system pressurized and to keep your coolant from boiling.

- At least once a year, an external radiator cleaning needs to be done. There are two options for this.

- You can use a hose with a nozzle and a soft nylon brush to clean the exterior of the radiator. Once your car is completely cool, gently brush the radiator fins, in the direction of the fins. When you’re finished brushing the fins, use your hose to rinse off the radiator by streaming the water from outside to inside.

- You can take your car to the staff at J-Mac Radiator and they’ll take good care of your radiator! They will clean your radiator’s exterior professionally.

- Lastly, it is important to flush and fill your radiator at least once a year. The professionals at J-Mac Radiator professionals recommend a flush and fill for winter called “winterization” for your car. 

Depending on how much you drive, you may need to have more than one flush and fill per year. Why is a flush and fill important? Simple! It is to ensure your cooling system will run well and won’t become clogged with lots of particulates. Over time, your car’s radiator can become blocked with debris from the engine that is cycled though the dirty coolant and will eventually completely clog the cooling system.

- There are two ways to flush and fill your radiator.

- You can flush and fill your radiator yourself. We’ve posted a blog earlier this year on how to do so.

- We recommend bringing your car into J-Mac Radiator. Our car care and radiator professionals will flush your radiator chemically and then by hand, in two directions with water. Then refill your radiator with the proper coolant you need and have your car ready for the ride of your life!

Is Your Temperature Gauge Running Hot?

Eric Flores - Saturday, October 18, 2014

It happens to the best of us, we’re driving around and then the little needle on the dash starts to creep a little closer to the “H” then we’d planned. Yep, your car is running hot. You take it to your repair shop and complain that it’s running hot, but you’re not loosing coolant, you’re engine isn’t running rough and the radiator doesn’t feel too hot. Nothing obvious is wrong with it, but the repair guy seems to think you’re fine. What are you supposed to do?

 

Well, as radiator experts we’re here to help you. When a customer comes in to J-Mac Radiator with a complaint of their car running hot and we do a visual inspection but can’t find anything obviously wrong, the temperature gauge is often the guilty party. At J-Mac, we can run a diagnostic test for a “bad temperature gauge.”

 

Now what’s that you ask? Well, it’s when the pesky temperature gauge just doesn’t work right. It reads the temperature in your radiator to be higher than it actually is and then reports to you, that the car is running hot.

 

Here’s how we test for it…

Step 1: Place a diagnostics strip on the radiator top tank or thermostat housing.

Step 2: Take the car on a “test drive” up a steep grade.

Step 3: Read the temperature gauge and compare it with the diagnostic strip that we placed under the hood.

 

Here’s how the diagnostic strip is read…

  • If the strip reads approximately 200°F or so, then the gauge is “OK” but it is off.
  • If the strip reads 250°F then the car is running hot.
  •  

    So, if you think you car is running hot, but can’t seem to find the problem, it could just be your temperature gauge. Bring it to J-Mac Radiator and avoid getting the run around from everyone else!

    Q&A: Liquid Aluminum

    Eric Flores - Monday, October 13, 2014

    Our first question was: “I have a bottle of Bar’s Liquid Aluminum stop leak. Will the ‘Liquid Aluminum’ stop leak that I have work on my radiator if it is made of brass and/or copper?” Naturally, I sought the specialized team of radiator repair experts at J-Mac Radiator in beautiful Salt Lake City, Utah, for their advice on this topic.

     

    After going in, I sat down with Mr. Mark McKenna, manager of J-Mac Radiator. We started talking about using ‘Liquid Aluminum’ and he strongly recommended just coming in and having a professional radiator technician examine your radiator.

     

    “I would only under the most dire of circumstances encourage its [Liquid Aluminum] use,” he said.

     

    When I asked why, he explained to me that it and most other “stop leak” products work in theory by circulating through the cooling system via the coolant. As the coolant escapes through the leak some of the product will be left behind thus clogging the leak. Sounded like a good theory to me. Then Mark explained that there were a few flaws with the theory.

     

    1. “Stop Leak” products rarely work whether they are designed for a copper, brass, or plastic aluminum radiator.

     

    2. “Stop Leak” products are non-selective. That means they flow through the ENTIRE system, plugging up passages into your heater cove and the radiator tubes. This can make your radiator problem worse by causing your car to overheat.

     

    Mark said if you choose to use a “stop leak” product, to make sure it is only as a SHORT TERM SOLUTION. Again he cautioned that if your radiator has a leak, please take it in and get it fixed by a radiator repair shop.

     

    Here’s an example, if you were to use the “Liquid Aluminum” and it stops your leak, but it also severely restricted your Heater Core. Now your Heater Core will no longer produce any heat and that means you’ll have to take your car in for it to be removed, repaired and possibly replaced. This would range in price from a few hundred to $1,500.

     

    Another example…so you still used that “Liquid Aluminum” and it stopped your leak. Well, it also clogged up your whole radiator, which resulted in the overheating of your engine. Do you know how much a new engine costs? On the conservative side, it would cost a few thousand dollars.

     

    So, I ask you, is using the “Liquid Aluminum” or other “stop leak” product worth the risk? Are you willing to put your car’s Heater Core and engine on the line for a quick fix? I submit (and Mark agrees with me) that it simply isn’t worth the risk.

     

    “You are money ahead by having the leak diagnosed by a professional and then having it repaired,” he said.

     

    Thanks to our friends at J-Mac Radiator for helping us out with this question today. I really hope you found it as interesting as I did and if you were thinking of using a “stop leak” product in your radiator, I hope you’ll think twice before you do. Stop by J-Mac Radiator for any of your car care needs, located at 3520 South State Street and online at www.jmacradiators.com.


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