Radiator TLC

| June 01, 2006

“Once you have a problem, don’t wait to get it fixed,” Sholly says. “The longer you wait, the more it will cost. The damaged area often grows, so nip it in the bud.”

Don’t put sealers into the system to stop a leak. They can clog the whole system and often increase the cost of getting a radiator repaired because of time needed to clean out the tubes or other passages.

She says it’s better to take your vehicle directly to a shop that specializes in radiators. “Not anyone can repair a radiator properly,” she says. And why pay a markup charged by a general repair shop or dealer? You can look up the location of the nearest shop on the NARSA (National Auto Radiator Service Association) website (see “For More Information”).

The radiator shop should be clean because that reflects on the quality of the job. Is it well organized and equipped? Mike and Daughter’s has a fork lift to lift parts, a substantial lift for vehicles, a number of large cleaning tanks and a good deal of other specialized equipment. (Proper chemical cleaning can clear blocked tubes and save a core.)

Do the shop managers know the answers to your questions and answer them without hesitating? Do they seem confident in knowing what your problem is and how to fix it? Are their technicians experienced? One Mike and Daughter’s employees has been doing this for 30 years. Sholly concludes, “Radiators should be what they specialize in, and not a sideline.”

They should also be straight with customers and show them problem areas and damaged parts they have replaced. Also, it’s necessary to look at the entire system, not just the radiator. For example, the cause of an overheating problem might be a water pump with corroded impeller blades, another symptom of which would be poor heat in the cab. If the shop doesn’t look at your problem in this way, you should go somewhere else.

If you’ve had chronic leakage not due to neglect, you may want to get your radiator completely re-cored, Sholly says. That means new tubes and fins, with the original tanks re-mounted onto the new core, if they are in good condition. A high-quality new core purchased in the aftermarket can actually be better than original equipment, with thicker tubes and fins, and more solder. This will solve chronic leakage problems in many cases.

“Some people just want it cheap,” Sholly says. “We like to put it back in original condition, or better, to give you equal or increased cooling efficiency. As a result, we have very few customer complaints. The key benefit of spending more on the repair is reduced downtime.”

For further information, please contact the following:
Mike and Daughter
Radiator Aid
Lancaster, Pa.
(717) 394-0184

National Auto Radiator
Service Association
(856) 439-9596

Proliance International, Inc.
(800) 755-2160

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