Used Radiator: The pros and cons

A used radiator can be significantly cheaper than a new one. Auto radiators for older cars can sometimes be difficult or impossible to find new. But how do you know if you’re getting a good addition to your cooling system or a hunk of junk?

The key is being able to evaluate the condition of the used radiator. This, however, can be very difficult because so much of the radiator is inaccessible for scrutiny.

You should never pay more than $30 for auto radiators for an older car, unless someone can prove to you that it is in great shape.

Here are some used radiator evaluation tips:

  • Visually inspect it. Look for corrosion, damage, and defects. A leak that lasts more than a few days will strip the paint wherever it drips. Check the cooling cores for damage or bending. Check the mounting brackets. Pour any coolant left in it out, and check the color and content.
  • Look inside it. Take a flashlight and look inside the tanks. Look for excessive scaling or corrosion. If you can, take it apart and check the interior of the cores, as well.
  • Check the auto radiators joints. Inspect carefully, on the inside and out, where the hose intakes join the tanks and where the tanks join the cores. Look for corrosion, weakness, and accumulation of mineral deposits and sediment.
  • Aluminum: check for epoxy joints and corrosion. If you’re looking at an aluminum used radiator, check the connections between the tank and the cores. If they are epoxy, check them carefully for signs of degradation. Many epoxy joints will only last 4 or 5 years.

Quite often, you will not be able to find a suitable used radiator for your car. Do not despair, however, because almost certainly has an auto radiator in stock that will fit your car, truck, hot rod, SUV, jeep, import, or classic car.


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