Can Your Modern Aluminum Radiator Be Fixed?


Few problems are as urgent as a leaky radiator. Modern cars do not tolerate overheating well, and problems can escalate quickly once a car loses enough coolant to impact its ability to regulate temperature. Overheating for a minute or less can destroy a car's head gasket and even warp the head itself, quickly leading to four-figure repair bills. Because the potential for catastrophe is so great, it is crucial to repair coolant leaks as soon as you discover them. If you've tracked down the leak to your radiator, then you have a few options for dealing with the problem.

Understanding the Construction of Your Radiator

Although it may seem simple on the surface, the typical car radiator is made up of several vital components. Since the purpose of a radiator is to provide a large amount of surface area for efficient heat exchange, the most critical element of any radiator is the core. The radiator core is constructed from metal with good thermal conductivity (usually aluminum or copper) and consists of many small paths for coolant to travel through to exchange its heat with the outside environment. Header tanks on each end of the radiator provide inlet and outlet points for the coolant.

In older cars, both the radiator core and the header tanks were constructed from metal. In modern vehicles, the header tanks are often plastic. Aluminum is used in the core of most radiators, although some are still constructed from copper. Aluminum and plastic are lightweight and cheap, but they have some notable downsides.

Aluminum Radiator Repair Techniques

Skilled mechanics could repair older, copper-core radiators by soldering the damaged portion of the core. This was a cheap, easy, and effective repair. If you drive an older car equipped with a copper-core radiator, then it is likely that all but the most severe damage can be repaired easily. Plastic and aluminum radiators present additional challenges, however.

Unlike copper, aluminum cannot be soldered to repair leaks in the core itself. Instead, a common technique for repairing these radiators includes the use of specialized radiator repair epoxies. The radiator must be thoroughly cleaned and flushed before the epoxy can be applied, and the application must be performed by a technician familiar with radiator repair to ensure a good seal. This work is almost always performed with the radiator removed from the car.

Surprisingly, the plastic header tanks on radiators are sometimes repairable as well. Special plastic welding kits can be used to permanently repair small cracks and other imperfections in plastic radiator parts. These repairs are often durable enough to last over the long term and keep your coolant safely contained within the radiator.

For more information, call a radiator repair professional.


21 October 2019

Investing In Proper Auto Service

After trying in vain to fix my car for a few months, I realized that I needed to hire a professional. I was tired of dealing with repairs that I was unfamiliar with, and I knew that I needed to get some help. I started looking around for a great auto mechanic, and even though one business was more expensive than others, I decided to work with them. They worked hard to fix my car, and I was really pleased with how great of a job they did. This blog is all about investing in proper auto service so that you don't have to deal with problems in the future.