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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.

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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