1-800-RADIATOR

In the neverending process of repairing my brother's Jeep (a 1994 Wrangler YJ with a 4.0L engine) I discovered a need for a new radiator. It would
seem there were two problems with the cooling system... massive leaks from the radiator, and it was full of sludge. However, the sludge had plugged all the leaks, so the problem wouldn't become apparent until a coolant flush. But anyhow, I set out attempting to find a new radiator.
In reading through old posts, it seemed that 1-800-RADIATOR (also known as radiator.com) had the largest number of positive reports about it, and so after checking around some and comparing prices, I decided to go with them. They weren't the cheapest (I believe both radiatorbarn.com and radiatorexpress.com by a decent amount) but the number of glowing reports swayed me. Plus I had read posts stating that the other companies were selling generic "made in China" or "made in Taiwan" radiators, whereas 1-800-RADIATOR used some more reputable name brand manufacturers. I called them and was quoted $159 for a standard duty two core OEM replacement radiator, which seemed reasonable enough as AutoZone wanted $300, NAPA wanted $190, and Quadratec wanted $180.
From reading other people's posts, I was under the impression that they'd overnight the radiator to me, and quite possibly without any additional cost. These impressions turned out to be wrong. I suppose they'd overnight it to me, but definitely NOT for free. As far as sales tax goes, I figured I'd likely have to pay that since they're based out of California, which is where I live, so there'd be no way around it. As luck would have it their nearest warehouse was about 15 minutes away from me, so I just picked it up myself the same day. Total price was $171 after tax.
Now, the stock radiator was a two core with plastic tanks on the side. Many posts I had read said that the replacements they purchased were all metal models; the one they wanted to give me was not all metal, but in fact was yet another plastic tank version (which I don't like, as in my experience the plastic is what fails first 9 times out of 10). Furthermore, and much to my surprise after what I had read in my research, upon opening the box I saw a nice big "MADE IN CHINA" sticker on the top. At this point I wasn't so sure I even wanted to take the thing home with me... I knew for a fact that I could get an all metal Chinese or Taiwanese radiator from one of their competitors for significantly less (around $140, which was free of sales tax AND included shipping). I told them this, and the sales guy there then swapped the one they pulled originally with an all metal "made in Indonesia" model but left the price tag the same, even though by their catalog the all metal one was more expensive. This seemed better to me, and although the price was still higher than something I could get via mail order, I preferred buying one I could actually see and inspect before I paid for it.
So in the end, I'm pleased with the quality of the service I received (nice enough folks, helpful, and gave me what I wanted without any fuss at all), but I don't know if I'd say it's the best bargain around. They're certainly cheaper than the dealer or any chain auto parts store, but as far as the online and mail order companies go I think other stores out there have them beat in terms of pricing. It should be noted that the radiator I purchased carries a lifetime warranty, but then I think that's the same with all the other online companies as well. My experience wasn't a negative one, but I didn't get what I thought I was going to get after reading all the positive reports online. I figured I should mention it to the world in the interest of fairness and as a contrasting perspective to all the other things I've read so far.
                                Bryan
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I would have kept looking until I found a domestic one.
Indonesia is probably worse than China.
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If you guys need USA/Canada made radiators, I'm pretty sure I can come real close to those prices. I don't want to sound like an advertisement, but we are working on setting up a radiator site for my buddy's shop and will be selling them online soon.
Chris
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Had I the money and the time available, I probably would have done just that. But the radiator needed replacing, and I'm running short on time and funds for this project. Besides, I'm not sure where I'd even find such a beast at a reasonable price... all the dealers/auto parts stores were out of my price range (though NAPA would have fit, but the person at the store expressed a great doubt in her ability to get the needed part shipped there in any reasonable amount of time), and all the cheaper places seem to only stock Chinese/Taiwanese/Indonesian/etc. parts. Maybe Quadratec's radiator would have been of a better reputation, but for the price I doubt it. And besides, calling and asking doesn't guarantee the part to be what I want, it just gives me a reason to return it if it isn't, which would only add headache, lost time, and cost.

Possibly, but truth be told even a marking of "Made in the USA" isn't any sort of guarantee about the quality of the item anymore. I do it more out of interest in keeping as much money in the states as possible, though it's also possible that the radiator would be ASSEMBLED in the USA, using foreign components, which in the end doesn't help much.
Still, I hold out hope that this radiator is sufficient. It looks reasonably stout, and the lifetime warranty does ease my concerns a bit. But the main thing is I just don't see what all the hooplah over 1-800-RADIATOR was about after doing business with them, which is why I posted my experience. Maybe they underwent some changes recently or something, but whatever the case may be they seemed to be basically just like every other bargain radiator shop online. Caveat emptor, I guess. I would neither steer other potential 1-800-RADIATOR customers toward them or away from them, as my experience was essentially neutral. I think I got what I paid for, no more and no less. But I do feel their exhaulted status which I encountered repeatedly on websites and in newsgroups was entirely unwarranted. I read a post from as recent as October of 2003 claiming that they'd ship overnight or 2nd day without any additional cost tacked on to the price of the radiator, which was entirely false. Also, many people spoke of receiving radiators manufactured by Modine from them, which mine was not. Granted, 1-800-RADIATOR sells products manufactured by many different vendors; in my case, the radiator was made by CSF (an import vehicle parts company, and yet it's a part for a domestic vehicle, which seemed odd), and apparently put together in Indonesia. Let's hope the hands of all those underpaid child workers are nimble enough to make a leak-free radiator.
Given all the hype, I AM disappointed that the first radiator they offered me was a no-name model made in China. That seems to be contrary to what information is listed on their website about the products they sell. So, in all, a lukewarm experience. I'm sure I'll feel a great deal more burned if the radiator leaks any time soon (pun intended). But until then, I'd say the only thing others thinking about purchasing from 1-800-RADIATOR should do is ask lots of questions. Who makes the radiator, where is it made, is shipping included, etc. Basically questions anyone should ask if such things matter to them. It seems that 1-800-RADIATOR can deliver the goods properly, which is a definite point in their favor, but the main question becomes what those goods are exactly and whether or not they are legitimately "good." Other companies online look to be able to beat their prices quite readily, and possibly for the exact same level of quality.
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