How to Repair a Plastic Radiator

How to Repair a Plastic Radiator?

Coolant system issues are a ubiquitous thing. And one of the major culprits of those issues is the best radiator hose clamps. They are designed to diffuse the heat of the coolant. And they do that by absorbing the heat from the coolant that travels through the engine. However, over time, the coolant can go bad.

In addition to going bad, the coolant can drop in quantity over time. And once that happens, the radiator tends to leak or show other issues. However, leakage is the main issue that many faces. But if you know how to repair a plastic radiator, there will be no need to worry about it if that leakage does occur.

And while many think that the repair process is going to be labor-intensive and time-consuming, that is not always the case. We are here to let you know about the process, which is not only easy to carry out but also less labor-intensive.

How to Repair a Plastic Radiator?

Plastic Radiator

Enough talking — let us get to the thing that you are primarily here for, which is to know the process of repairing the radiator. Well, we got enough experience fixing these, which is why we were capable of offering you an easy-to-follow guide. And the step-by-step guide we are referring to is as follows:

Step 1: Identify the Problem

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The first step would be to understand what is exactly wrong with your vehicle. And we would first recommend checking beneath your vehicle. If there is a puddle of coolant, there is obviously a leak in the radiator. However, the car can leak all sorts of liquid.

To ensure that the liquid is coolant, touch the puddle with your finger, and wipe it into paper. If the color is greenish or orange, chances are it is coolant. However, there might not always be a puddle underneath. In that case, check the coolant reservoir. If the coolant level is beneath the fill-line, there is a leak.

Another way of detecting the problem would be to check the temperature gauge. If it turns red too often, the chances are that the radiator is not working optimally. And when the radiator does not work properly, the engine will overheat.

However, do check the coolant level to determine whether there is a leak or the coolant has gone bad.

Step 2: Let the Engine Cool Off

Now that you are sure that there is a leak, you need to move along the repairing process. For this, you first need to let your engine cool off. The coolant will remain under high pressure when the engine is hot. And if you plan to open the radiator cap when the coolant is hot, you might end up with serious burns.

For that reason, it would be wise to let the engine sit for a couple of hours and let the coolant completely cool down. To be sure whether the coolant has cooled off or not, touch the cap of the radiator. If it seems to be cool to the touch, then you should be good to go.

Step 3: Jack up the Vehicle

To move onto the next step, you first need to ensure that you have proper access to the bottom of the radiator. And for this, you would need to raise the vehicle. There should be designated jack points on your vehicle for this task. If you can not find them at first glance, do check the manual.

Once the vehicle is high enough, place some jack stands underneath the vehicle to properly support the overall weight. Do note that you do not slide under the vehicle that is only supported by the jack. Jack stands are essential in this case, and you should get them placed before getting under your car.

Step 4: Open the Petcok and Drain the Coolant

After lifting up the vehicle, you need to get yourself a bucket that can contain all of the coolants inside. Then, locate the petcock that is on the bottom of the car. It will usually look like a spout. There will be a valve, which you can turn to open the system. Keep the bucket close while opening up the valve.

And once the valve is loose, place the bucket underneath the opening. Let the coolant drain into the bucket. Do ensure that you do not let the coolant get in contact with your skin.

Step 5: Flush the Radiator

Once the bottom is taken care of, you need to get to the upper portion. The upper portion should contain a good number of coolants even when the bottom portion is empty. And for taking them out, you would need to take the help of water. Close the petcock lever on the bottom and fill the reservoir with water.

After the reservoir is full of water, start the engine and let it run for a couple of minutes. Then let the engine cool off and drain the radiator again. Repeat the process a couple of times, and it should get the radiator clean.

Step 6: Locate the Leak

When you are flushing the radiator, it will be pretty easy to locate the leak. Note the spot or mark it with something if you have to. After marking it, move along to the next steps.

Step 7: Replace the Cap of the Radiator

In most cases, the point of failure is going to be the cap itself. These caps are designed to let the excess pressure escape without causing any damaged to the system. However, over time, dust and grimes can wear the mechanism out. And that is where they start to fail.

And leakages do not really occur that quickly. Your radiator is likely pretty old if the leak did occur. For that reason, we would highly recommend changing the cap of the radiator. These should be available in the local auto parts store. However, do make sure that you get the one that fits the radiator of your vehicle.

Step 8: Use a Leak Sealant

After replacing the cap, you need to move along with sealing the leak. For this, we would first recommend using a commercial leak sealant. And you should not really spray it all over the radiator. Instead, spray it on the spot where the leak is.

If the crack is not that large and if the sealant is well-performer, it should be capable of sealing the leak. Before refilling the reservoir with coolant, we would recommend filling it with water again. This will let you be assured if the leak is sealed or not. If the leak is still there, move to the next step.

Step 9: Seal With Epoxy

Leak sealants are not really ideal for all of the cracks and leakage. For example, if the crack is large in size, it will be impossible to seal it with a sealant. Additionally, the sealants might not work that well on most of the plastics as well. But do you know that is surely going to work? Epoxy!

In this step, you need to first empty out the reservoir. Then clean the cracked area thoroughly. Make sure that there is not dust or grimes on the surface. The dust and grimes can prevent the epoxy from creating a proper seal. So, you should carefully clean the area before pouring epoxy on the crack.

Use a rag with brake cleaner if necessary. After cleaning the area, let it dry for a while. However, do ensure that dust and debris are not accommodating on the top when you are letting the area dry. Now, it would be time for you to work with epoxy. But first, you need to get yourself a proper one.

Usually, radiator epoxy should be available in most auto repair stores. Get the one that seems to be a good performer. After purchasing the epoxy, open the package and use your hands to knead the epoxy. Knead it to the point when it becomes malleable.

Once it becomes malleable enough, spread the epoxy throughout the entire crack. Make sure that you cover each portion of the crack, or else the sealing is not going to be proper, and there will still be a leak. After properly spreading the epoxy throughout the crack, let it set.

Generally, it would take at least 12 hours for the epoxy to set. For that reason, we would recommend leaving it for the whole night. Once it does set and the crack seems to be sealed, fill the reservoir with the coolant mixture.

Final Words

Now that you know all about the process of how to repair a plastic radiator, hopefully, you will not panic anymore when you are having issues with your cooling system. However, do ensure that you follow the steps correctly, or else the leak might still be there.

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