any coolant leak needs to be taken seriously and with a sense of urgency. A coolant leak from a cracked radiator will cause your vehicle to overheat and if it redlines you could be in for 1,000’s of dollars in repairs. What happens when a vehicle overheats is the engine gets so hot that all the gaskets melt on the engine? There are several major components sealed to the engine block with gaskets on a typical motor and just to replace them could run well over $1,000. Then there is the risk of damaging major components to the motor itself such as the head warping or cracking.
CAN I DRIVE MY VEHICLE WITH A BROKEN RADIATOR?
You can but you are taking a big chance that you could seriously damage the motor. To avoid thousands in costly repairs and the vehicle breaking down you should get the broken radiator replaced as soon as possible. The heat in any combustion motor needs to be regulated to protect the inner workings of your engine from damage. A busted radiator can make smoke billow from your engine or cause your car to break down on the road.
CAN MY RADIATOR BE REPAIRED OR DOES IT NEED TO BE REPLACED?
That depends on the radiator. Older models had better quality radiators made of one type of metal while new vehicles were made with a combination of plastics and aluminum. The new radiators usually must be replaced as the semsa between these two materials are usually where the leak occurs. On the old all aluminum radiators they can be repaired quite successfully.
CAN I USE STOP LEAK TO REPAIR THE RADIATOR?
Yes, but only as a temporary short-term fix. The stop leak often clogs many of the sections within the radiator and can clog places throughout the motor, water pump and thermostat. Stop leak should only be used as a short-term fix and be prepared to have to replace other components if the stop leak clogs them.
DO I NEED TO REPLACE MY RADIATOR HOSES WHEN I REPLACE THE RADIATOR?
That depends on the condition of the hoses and also how old they are. If the hoses are original, then it makes sense to change them now since there is no extra labor to change when the radiator is out. If you don’t change them and they go bad a year down the road you will have to pay the labor again to replace them.