If you find a leak in your radiator, you may think the only way to solve the problem is by buying a replacement radiator. Well, a replacement radiator cost can set you back a lot and once you add in the labor you might want to check some other options. Repairing a leaking radiator may be an option if the leak is not too bad and in an area that you can get to. It will also depend on what is leaking and if it is plastic, aluminum, copper, brass or maybe its just a hose or gasket leak.
It’s always a good idea to take your vehicle into a repair shop to be looked at by a mechanic. I also recommend calling around and once you find out what is wrong with your vehicle get a few prices. A replacement radiator cost can be high but we have found that the more calls you make the better the price will get. A complete radiator replacement cost is usually significantly more expensive than just a repair. You may also want to check the option of a recored radiator. More information on a recored radiator cost will be included soon.
Once you know what exactly you are dealing with you can consider if you should have it replaced, repaired or if you should try to repair the leak yourself. If you are a DIY guy many cooling system repairs will be within your means and are not that difficult at all. So find out what the problem is and which radiator repair kit you may need to purchase.
Radiator Stop Leak
Radiator sealant – also known as stop leak – is a good idea for a simple small leak, whether it be the on the radiator itself, the heater core, or gaskets. Radiator coolant sealer is not meant for long-term use. Many have used stop leak and never had a problem again but it is a hit and miss kind of thing. Radiator stop leak can be found in all auto part stores and there are many brands to select from.
Coolant Sealants are an affordable way to keep your engine running properly for a short amount of time. The radiator sealant is a simple bottle of liquid or powder that is poured into your car’s radiator. Working from the inside, it adheres to any cracks or pinholes, stopping any more fluid from leaking. This is done without draining any of the liquid already in the system. After it is poured, fill the reserve tank with a 50/50 mix of coolant, and let your car run for 5-10 minutes to cycle the sealant through. It is important to know, after this is done, to let your vehicle sit at least 12 hours before driving, so the sealant has time to do its job.
Basic Radiator Repair Kit
If you have a plastic tank on your radiator, there are specific repair kits made just for you. In these kits, there should be included: sandpaper, fiberglass cloth, epoxy, and an applicator brush. Depending on where the leak is, many repairs can be done without removing the radiator. When attempting any repair make sure all liquid and dirt is removed from radiator, and the area around the leak is allowed to dry before beginning repair. First, thoroughly clean the area that needs repair, removing any dirt and grime. Sand down the area to ensure a smooth surface. Use the epoxy to adhere the fiberglass cloth to the affected area, and allow to harden and dry. The sandpaper can then be used to make the area smooth for looks but this step is not required. It is important to let the epoxy completely set before refilling and driving your vehicle. This can take some time, but it can’t hurt to allow it to sit for at least a few hours or overnight. Always follow directions on the package. Some people will argue this is not an effective way to repair your radiator but in many cases it works well and can get you moving again and help to get you into a repair shop for a proper repair. This is a generally accepted method of repair especially if you have an older vehicle that you don’t want to put a lot of money into.
Metal tanks on your radiator may take a little more work to repair. Most decide not to take on this project alone, leaving the work to a mechanic, but with a little knowledge, can be done at home. As with a plastic radiator repair, it is important to drain all coolant from the radiator before attempting any repairs. There are special epoxies, similar to what you find with plastic repair kits, which are applied to the affected area, and left to harden. Another option, however, is to use a welding kit to place metal over the crack or hole, or solder kit, depending on whether your radiator tank is plastic or brass. There are other issues to consider with this type of repair, as metal is more likely to fatigue around welded or soldered areas, causing a larger problem than expected. This is not something that generally happens over a short period of time however, and never happens to most radiators.
While radiator repair may not always the best option for your vehicle, it should absolutely be considered for smaller leaks or cracks. On larger cracks, erosion, or on parts that should regularly be replaced (including, but not limited to, hoses) repair may not be a better option. The best way to avoid a complete radiator replacement would be to regularly maintain your cooling system and engine as needed, Replace hoses and belts at the first sign of wear and tear, and keep your coolant level at the appropriate level and replace when called for.