Radiator Leak Repair?

reekolaAugust 29, 2006

Hi Folks,

1990 Nissan Maxima. The plastic "cap" that runs along the top of the entire radiator has about a 2 inch long hairline crack, that is leaking. I tried to put JB Weld on it last night, but the crack reappeared through it. Just put some more on it about an hour ago - will see what happens in a few hours when I go home. Is there any Do-ItYourself repair I can do? Stop leak, egg etc.? New radiator =$300. I've made an appt. for replace for Fri., but may try some "fixes" before then.

thanks in advance...........

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earthworm

She is aging and becoming old, Reekola, at 15, the equivalent of 75 man-years..
I guess the junk yards have no radiators, of that era..
How about the radiator repair shops ??
Did you remember to drill the two holes at the ends of the crack ?
And let us hope that the head gasket is not blown - combustion gasses can be hard on radiators.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2006 at 7:54PM
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gary__

If you don't have an aversion to ebay and doing your own work, you can get the part there brand new for less than $100 and install it yourself. I imagine the part is available at the same price other places if you want to call around.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2006 at 11:56PM
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reekola

Well, the second coat of JB Weld also split and leaked through. I then put a third coat over that, a layer of plastic roofing mesh, then a layer of JB Weld over that. Drove to work this morning and no leak (so far). My guess is that it will not last for that long....or will it?? Maybe do a couple more layers of JB Weld and mesh to beef it up? Or get the new radiator tomorrow. Seems like the hot high pressure will eventually beat my patch. Are "Stop Leak " additives for radiator a bad idea? several had said adding an egg to the coolant works.
I could probably put in new radiator myself, but not sure if I want want to spend half a day (it usually takes me longer on car repairs, as I don't do them that much and I have to look at everything carefully before I start unhooking things). Can buy a new replacement through mail order for $100+/- ($242 through NAPA).

Thanks for your input.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2006 at 11:18AM
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irishbrewer

I bought a replacement radiator for my Integra for about $80 online and it was a piece of cake to replace. Just a couple of bolts, electrical connections (for the fan), remove the hoses (after draining the system) and it lifts out. Take the fan off the old radiator and put it on the new and re-install the whole assembly. You could do it in about 30 minutes.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2006 at 3:14PM
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exgm

I have never had a rad repair attempt remain in place for very long on current vehicles. Compared to older ones, the metal (and plastic) is thinner, and the underhood temperatures higher. This means much more expansion / contraction, which will shear epoxy patches for sure, unfortunately. If it's failed in one spot, it will fail somewhere else shortly. Buy a new rad and replace it yourself. I have found Modine to be decent, everyone will have their own preferences. Also check for any bleed requirement too. There are most likely bleed screws to open when refilling. I am not familiar with that specific vehicle's requirements.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2006 at 8:35PM
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ericwi

The mesh that you layered into the JB weld epoxy repair will definitely help keep the epoxy from cracking. You could have used fiberglass cloth for the same purpose. However, the radiator is made of molded plastic, possibly polyethylene, and there is no glue, to my knowledge, that will reliably stick to the plastic radiator, over time.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2006 at 10:21PM
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gary__

**Are "Stop Leak " additives for radiator a bad idea? several had said adding an egg to the coolant works.**

Nah, not for that kind of thing. Cooling system stop leak products work ok for very minor problems, not a growing crack in plastic. I believe I saw in a catalogue laying around my house somewhere a product for repairing radiators with plastic tanks. I wouldn't fool with it though. @ 15 years you got your moneys worth out of it a long time ago. Either replace it yourself or pay someone to do it.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2006 at 7:36AM
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sdello

Is the car good, reliable transportation (current radiator issue aside)?

As I see it you either fix it correctly (new radiator) or spend your time worrying if your "patch" will hold everytime you go somewhere. Give a realistic estimate of your time and abilities to install it yourself. What about tools and work area? Suppose you need to get something in the middle of the job, do you have another vehicle at your disposal? Compare these questions to $200 to a repair shop (your in it for at least $100, if not more, for the part).

$300 for new radiator installed sounds like the best bet.

If the car is on its last legs you might consider looking for a more reliable replacement vehicle in lieu of throwing good money after bad. FWIW: $300 represents 1 to 2 monthly car payments these days. If you get 60 days use then you got your money back.

Quick and dirty fix on a pressurized component like a radiator are just that "quick and dirty fixes".

My 0.02

    Bookmark   September 1, 2006 at 9:44AM
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theider

I too have a hairline crack in the top portion of my 96' Blazer. I've tried several epoxy's and they didn't work - anybody else have any suggestions? I really don't have the cash to fix the problem.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2008 at 12:32PM
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john_g

There is no reliable repair for those plastic radiator tanks, other than replacement.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2008 at 2:55PM
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kalining

Replace the rad. They are called consumables. Same as gas tanks and other things. They ware out. You will never know
when the " repair " will quit or " blow out ". Is your $100.00 rad worth a $3000.00 engine ? Maybe a $3000,00 transmission if that gets over heated too ? Replace the rad. And i mean a new one. Don't go to a bone yard and buy someone elses plugged rotten piece of junk because the one you buy from them will be just as bad as the one you are replacing. If not worse. Been there done that. I needed a rad for my car. $65.00 for a used maybe plugged one and
$119.00 for a brand new one. What do you think i went for ?

    Bookmark   November 6, 2008 at 8:19PM
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jemdandy

Replace the radiator. Its old; Its plastic; Its shot.

I'd advise refraining from using a stop leak, egg white or otherwise. You'd be taking a chance of plugging up the small tubes in the heater core, and since you will be replaceing it soon, hobble along with the external patches realizing these are barely good enough to get you to the repair shop.

There's probably not much hope in getting a radiator from a salvage yard for an 18 yr old car. Since that radiator has plastic, that stuff heat ages with time, therefore, a salvaged part probably is in its last legs too unless it came from a very low mileage car, or from a later model whose radiator happened to fit. The good, salvaged radiators likely have been used up years ago rebuilding wrecks. Its worth a try, but don't be surprised if none are available.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 2:26AM
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reekola

I did end up replacing the one on my '90 Maxima (over 2 yrs. ago) and the car is still running like a champ! I figured whatever temporary fix I tried would eventually fail, most likely at a most unopportune time (freezing weather, highway, night.....). Definitely get a new one (on line are about $100 +/-) and they seem like they're pretty easy to install (I had my mechanic do it since I didn't have the time to try it myself). A lot cheaper than having to pay for a tow truck and an emergency repair at some shop you're not familiar with. Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 2:46PM
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john_g

Last year I had a customer who brought a Volvo down for me to get running for him. He wanted it running so that he could sell it. Apparently in the months previous to this repair visit he had attempted to repair his radiator with some type of an epoxy. After several attempts it did hold.

In the process of working with his car, I had it running for testing. The coolant fan had cycled on, and then back off at least once and maybe even a second or third time. I walked away from the car to allow time to observe some engine running time and the "repair" violently failed. We are talking about a fifteen to twenty second time frame between when I was just standing right at the left front portion of the engine compartment where the radiator tank on that side tank ripped wide open.

The possibilities were;

Second to third degree burns on as much as 40% of someones body. Blindness, as both eyes could have been permanently damaged. Risk of infections during recovery, which could prove fatal.

Combine that with a sole proprietor, "owner" cannot get Workman's compensation. As the only technician., the business is closed if I cannot work. My business insurances only pays for a loss of revenue if something happens to the building that shuts us down, not health concerns for me.

The potential outcome barring a fatality would have been that the shop would have closed that very second, permanently. It would have left us with no health coverage, and no income. (You lose health coverage the first time you miss a payment, which is $1500 a month for my wife and I). Now some would say I could probably sue at that point, but sue for what? The $5000 medical per individual, per occurrence that he carries with his auto insurance? If not dead, we would have been bankrupt, and homeless all because someone tried to cut corners and save himself a couple hundred dollars.

BTW. He will never be back into my shop, MY DECISION, not his.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2008 at 8:42AM
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kalining

Too bad you don't live in Canada John. All that is covered. You can even get worker's comp. for yourself and all employes. ( It's a law, you have to ). You can't sue. Hazzards of the job. All our health coverage is payed out of our taxes. Everything is free. Well not really but you know what i mean. You have no choice. That is your major down fall down there. You will not give up your freedoms even to save your life. Our government run auto insurance would have payed for the rad explosion and everything related to it including injurys to ALL people and buildings. Your new Oboma will bring in government controled medical. You had better bloody hope he does. You now have a socialist government just like Canada. Our medical is free as in any hospital we want. Eye exams- free. Births- free. Emergency visits- free. hospital stays- free. doctors visits - free. ANY doctor we want. ANY hospital we want. All specialist are free. all operations are free. All palitive care is free. All cancer treatment is free. All physiotherpy is free. If your on Welfare all dental is free . They pay for your heat bills. They pay your taxes. They pay your gas when you go to the doctor.
They pay for home repairs. They will even pay your first
installment on your auto insurance. Get the point ?

    Bookmark   November 15, 2008 at 7:55PM
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airforceguy

Main Entry: so·cial·ism
Pronunciation: \ËsÅ-shÉ-Ëli-zÉm\
Function: noun
Date: 1837
1: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
2 a: a system of society or group living in which there is no private property b: a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state
3: a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done

Canada isn't a Socialist country!! I'm proud Canadian (15 yrs in the Cdn Military) but now reside in the USA and a RN student. There are + and negatives of the cdn and USA healthcare. The Cdn health care system (which I prefer over the USA one) isn't as rosey as the above poster makes it out to be.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2008 at 10:51AM
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kalining

Canadian military ? I wouldn't tell too many people. If your so proud to be a canadian why are you in the U.S.A. ?
I've been here close to 60 years and i know how this country and the govenment works. The good thing about the U.S. is there are elections. You even have to run for dog
catcher. Up here everyone is appointed by friends of the
government in power. There is no choice. The differences
between the too countries is the Canadian government in power says we want you live this way and we don't care what you think. It's going to happen. The U.S. people get a vote. Prime example is our failed long gun control. The government says we will push it through and make it happen. Even the police didn't want it. It was supposed to
cost us one million dollars. Then it went to 3.7 mill.
then it went to 10.5 mill. It is now at 1.3 billion and doesn't work. Tax payer's money. No one got a choice. The
government said it will happen, too bad. Our G.S.T. tax was
another idea of the government. They couldn't make the bill
happen so they went to england's house of commons to stack the house to force the vote through after we were supposed to have broken away from the queen with our own constitution, which is another joke. We didn't even know
this tax was going to happen until after the fact. Our
government auto insurance came about when the government
disbanded all private auto insurance companies and made it
illegal For anyone to offer auto insurance but themselves.
Every driver is insured by the same company, the government. They have now taken over the D.M.V. this way if
you lose you licence they cancel your auto insurance and remove your plates. If you don't pay a parking ticket against your car they pull your licence. They now passed a
law saying you cannot sue for auto related injuries or property damage. That would be like suing yourself. Nobody
knew anything about this until it happened. To late. They
also made it illegal to get private insurance from an other
province or a driver's licence with a different addresss.
If you don't like the word socialism We actually call it an
elected dictatorship. That is much more accurate.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2008 at 5:47PM
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airforceguy

I am very proud of serving in Canada's Armed Forces. Have seen the world and assisted in various United Peacekeeping missions. You have me confused, one post your bragging how great Canada is, then your trashing it. I as a proud Canadian would never trash it. Yes I now reside in the USA at this time, as it too is a great country. My wife and I are very much looking forward to moving back to Sask. in the future. One can either sit and complain, or get off your butt and so something about it. Thanks to all those that sacrificed their life's in WWI & WWII, you have that option! And I can proudly state, Canada was one of the first on the scene,lol
Glad you did not get hurt Mr. John G.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2008 at 7:48PM
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kalining

My first post talked about our medical system which is one of the few things this country has that is any good. Beleive me there are other countries that blow our system
apart. Sask. has public auto insurance. Try getting private
auto insurance. Your government put a stop to that.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2008 at 3:51PM
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tominflorida_juno_com

My son's 97 Corolla developed a hairline leak in the upper radiator tank. We were going to have a local shop change the plastic tank out (he told me not many shops are changing just the tanks)While we were waiting for the part to come in, I decided to patch it in the meantime. I pulled out the drained radiator and used a hair drier to speed up the drying around the cracks. I sanded the entire area, scored the cracks with a cheap Dremel knockoff, being careful not to go to deep.(although I didn't drill holes at the end of each crack)I then cleaned the area very well with denatured alcohol. I applied J-B Weld along with some mesh I had laying around. After that dried I applied more until it was built up nicely. It's been a few months now and we haven't heard from the radiator shop and the repair is still holding. Now to get our deposit money back...

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 2:20AM
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john_g

Hi Tom.

Did you read through the thread completely? You will see that someone tried that, and believed himself to be successful on a Volvo, just like you think you are at this point. The radiator subsequently failed violently, and it was a matter of luck that I wasn't in harms way. Literally it missed injuring me by only a few seconds.

You CANNOT repair that plastic radiator tank correctly with any adhesive. You might get some to hold for a while, but its going to fail and violently when it does. Just imagine if its your son under the hood of the car when it fails.

As far as getting your deposit back, your not entitled to it. The reason we take deposits is to protect us from people who do things exactly as you have done here. By not going back and having the tank replaced, as you promised which is why you had to pay the deposit, you have betrayed the shops trust. They now have a part in their possession, that there is a reasonable chance they cannot return, and they may have no other use for. That's an expense to them, that they would have to pass the cost of onto other customers.

In short, this is a situation where they, the shop is getting taken advantage of, or "ripped off" and the health of innocent people (your son for one) has been placed in danger. You need to get the car back to them and have it repaired correctly, and do it now before you end up sitting somewhere saying "I'd pay anything to be able to go back and not have had ______ get hurt".

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 8:39AM
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dennyin

A radiator repair shop may be able to replace just the top tank. Depending on the manufacturer, the top tanks can be removed and re-crimped back on one time. This may be something that could even be done without removing it from the car. It does take special crimp tools to do this.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 12:52PM
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kalining

Don't even think of replacing that tank. You must also replace the O ring. If so much as one tab cracks off, and it will, you are done. I did an experiment on my own car that had a cracked plastic tank. It started out as a 1 inch
crack where they over tightened the bolt to hold the fan on. I used plastic weld. It held for awhile but the crack grew even after drilling the " holes ". After the crack grew to about 5 inches i replaced the rad. I took the tank off. Well, you should have seen the inside of the tank where the crack was.It was completely etched away and the plastic tank was about as thick as a dollar bill where the hot gasses and anti freeze leaked out eating away at the plastic tank. There was nothing left of the plastic where the leak was as it ate away the plastic from the inside.You know, the place you never see. John you were so bloody lucky. I wasn't. A 390 came into the shop one day.
Just off the highway. Supposed to have the cap and wires
replaced.Opened the hood, removed the cap and BANG the bypass hose let go. I was very lucky. Only spent 2 days in the burn ward and 4 weeks off work. When i got new skin it
was the softest skin i've ever had. Baby's bum. My whiskers still grew back so that didn't change.Lost the scar under my left eye and the freckels on my nose. Lost the liver marks on my neck but they came back. I actually
made more money on compensation than i did in the whole 2
months before the accident. Good stuff. Well if you want to call having all your faceial skin fall off good stuff. Yes it does actually fall off. I'm actually very lucky. I only have one " floater " in my left eye. The right eye lid feels tight but that is probably old age and I can still see with both eyes. Thank god. Yah he was probably with me under that hood. Actually he was under the hood with me. I can still see. could have lost my sight. Anyone
that has been burned with hot antifreeze knows what i mean.
Where i live water boils a 207 degs. F. anti freeze under
pressure boils can boil at 260 F. Now we are getting into
science.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2009 at 6:10PM
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kalining

Don't even think of replacing that tank. You must also replace the O ring. If so much as one tab cracks off, and it will, you are done. I did an experiment on my own car that had a cracked plastic tank. It started out as a 1 inch
crack where they over tightened the bolt to hold the fan on. I used plastic weld. It held for awhile but the crack grew even after drilling the " holes ". After the crack grew to about 5 inches i replaced the rad. I took the tank off. Well, you should have seen the inside of the tank where the crack was.It was completely etched away and the plastic tank was about as thick as a dollar bill where the hot gasses and anti freeze leaked out eating away at the plastic tank. There was nothing left of the plastic where the leak was as it ate away the plastic from the inside.You know, the place you never see. John you were so bloody lucky. I wasn't. A 390 came into the shop one day.
Just off the highway. Supposed to have the cap and wires
replaced.Opened the hood, removed the cap and BANG the bypass hose let go. I was very lucky. Only spent 2 days in the burn ward and 4 weeks off work. When i got new skin it
was the softest skin i've ever had. Baby's bum. My whiskers still grew back so that didn't change.Lost the scar under my left eye and the freckels on my nose. Lost the liver marks on my neck but they came back. I actually
made more money on compensation than i did in the whole 2
months before the accident. Good stuff. Well if you want to call having all your faceial skin fall off good stuff. Yes it does actually fall off. I'm actually very lucky. I only have one " floater " in my left eye. The right eye lid feels tight but that is probably old age and I can still see with both eyes. Thank god. Yah he was probably with me under that hood. Actually he was under the hood with me. I can still see. could have lost my sight. Anyone
that has been burned with hot antifreeze knows what i mean.
Where i live water boils a 207 degs. F. anti freeze under
pressure boils can boil at 260 F. Now we are getting into
science.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2009 at 6:37PM
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kalining

seems there was a double post. disregaurd one of them.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2009 at 8:17PM
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dennyin

Replacing the O-ring is standard procedure for a repair shop that is in the business of radiator repair. That is why they sell the top tanks, bottom tanks, and end tanks as service items. They can normally be uncrimped and re-crimped one time, depending on the manufacturer. A certified facility that specializes in radiator repair is able to determine that.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 9:43AM
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skylerblue1992_yahoo_com

my engine blows out smoke when I'm driving and when stopped while having the car going. I ran the car while trying to locate the crack and I heard coolant being shot out of the center of the radiator onto my belt and air intake filter. Is there any way to fix it without spending too much or just how do I fix it without just getting a new radiator in all?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 4:11PM
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cook1e_slingshot_co_nz

the radiator is most likely glass filed nylon it can be plastic welded!!!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 5:19AM
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