I need a new radiator in my 90 Accord (155K) -- ridiculous leak and I'd
just rather put something new in than mess around with
patching/welding. I've been reading through a lot of radiator
replacement discussions in here and given the amount of time I've
already spent looking at and playing with it, I'm willing to give doing
it myself a shot.
That said, I'm wondering about the pros/cons of plastic and aluminum
tanks. Having had leaks on two plastic-tanked radiators, I'd rather go
with aluminum if that's going to tend to develop leaks less. Someone
mentioned aluminum being heavier -- is this going to make any
substantial difference other than ease of installation?
The prices on the ones I'm seeing listed on line are all reasonable,
but I don't see a lot of detailed info on one vs. another (which is
info much more in abundance on this group, thankfully).
All-aluminum is best. If you can find one these days. They're getting
harder to locate.
An important point to remember is that the rad MUST be free-floating.
When the upper mounts are bolted down, the rad should be LOOSE even when
the engine is hot. It should wiggle very easily. If it is snugly mounted
and not easily movable, excessive stress is placed on the tanks, leading
to a greater probability of fractures.
Indeed I was surprised how loose radiators are these days. My father
destroyed the front of his 2004 Saturn. After it was fixed I was checking
it over and I couldn't believe how loose the radiator was. I brought the
car back and they said it was right the way it was. I drove over to Saturn
dealer and checked the new ones out..... yep.... they are loose all right.
The part you miss is that the radiator itself expands and contracts,and the
plastic tanks may not stay sealed to the aluminum core,nor is ordinary road
shock and vibration healthy for the plastic/metal seals.
Stick to Jeeps.
The part that you miss is that the Jeep has a plastic tank radiator in it
too, and I haven't seen this happen. I didn't like the idea of a plastic
radiator twelve years ago when I bought the Jeep, but I am getting used to
it. The Civic I also have seems to be doing OK with a plastic radiator.
I used to see all metal radiators pop solder joints from heat, vibration,
who knows? Maybe the plastic ones are better.
This will probably be all right if he follows a reasonable coolant change
schedule. There is a voltmeter test you can do too, to see whether
electrolytes are building up. Basically, that tells you whether it is too
late or not. ;^)
there's nothing wrong with plastic, provided two conditions are met:
1. as tegger says, it needs to be loosely mounted.
2. there needs to be normal pressure in the system, not excess due to a
leaking head gasket.
regarding 2, a lot of times, radiators are replaced because of
"overheating". a low level head gasket leak can persist for a long
time, with the chemical and pressure stress that places on the system.
if a radiator cracks under those conditions because a prompt and
effective diagnosis of the root cause was not made, i don't think
there's a huge amount to complain about.
fyi, plastic/aluminum are a great combo for internal corrosion
resistance and seal persistence - that's why they're used. just make
sure you don't buy the cheapest one and you should be ok.
Check out www.radiatorwarehouse.com. I needed a new radiator for my '98 CRV
and they sent me a Honda OEM unit. The only difference being the filler neck
was slightly longer. Otherwise, it was a dead-ringer for the one that it
replaced. In fact, 'Honda" on the plastic tanks had been ground down but you
could still read it pretty easily.
The price was right and it arrived at my door in two days. I recommend them
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