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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.

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.

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!


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