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Cracked Radiator!   -   2003/04/03Viewed 320 times this month, last update: 2004/01/19


Damn... A few days ago I found a orangeish fluid collecting on the front frame of my truck. Having worked with coolant on my laser I knew what it was right after touching it. (At first, I thought it was rusty water.) Yep, the radiator sprung a leak. I had to remove a bunch of body panels to find where it was, but it's definitely a small crack on the top right-hand side of the radiator.

Land Rover wants $500-$700 to replace it, or $200-$400 for just the part. It would take me at least all day to do the job myself.
Other options include: Bringing it to an outside repair place for a patch/weld over the crack, and soldering it myself.

I've got a few days to think about it, as it is a VERY slow leak, but I really hate that vision of it opening up on the freeway, and my not noticing the temp guage until the entire engine block has warped into a horseshoe.

...

Grrr.... I can't get at the radiator to solder or glue it. To get at it, I would have to pull out the entire assembly, which includes both the engine and transmission oil coolers, and I don't want to do that! Besides, looking at it more closely, I don't think I would be able to effectively seal the leak with solder or glue, due to it's hidden location.
I'm thinking about using some goop to seal the leak from the inside. I'm just worried that goop could ruin the water pump or heater core. Maybe there's a guarantee...

Update 2004/01/14: Ok, eight months later, I'm actually replacing the radiator. While I'm in there, I'm also going to replace the "thermostat hose", which is actually a four-way hose that connects to the termostat, expansion tank, heater core, and coolant pump intake, since it's leaking a little.
I had to buy the $400 radiator, since my truck has "Secondary Air Injection", and the radiator needs a $200 extra temperature sensor. California is really starting to piss me off. There is a couple of thousand dollars worth of extra, and essentially useless emissions control equipment in there, just because I live in California.
Eight months ago I was worried about doing this myself, but it's been a long eight months, and my automotive repair skills have grown. I think (with Chris Bell's help) it'll take less than 3 hours.

I've had to remove the viscus fan before, when I replaced a pulley and the serpentine belt. The fan (about 2.5 feet in diameter) is held on via it's viscus coupling to a pulley. To remove the fan, something must hold the pulley still, and the nut on the viscus coupling must be turned. It's a big nut too, sometimes it takes a lot of force to move.
Also, the space between the fan and the engine is about two inches. Sound like fun? Sound like it'd be easy to skin your knuckles? Yes, it is. Last time, after trying tons of tools, none being able to get in there, I rented a fan wrench kit from Baum's Auto in Mission Viejo. It worked, but was awkward. The tools were too short, and were hard to use. What I really need are the Land Rover long handled, thin wrenches. However, my dealership doesn't want to order them for me.
So, I made them myself. One long wrench to grab onto the three bolts of the pulley, and one long handled wrench to turn the nut. Took about 30 minutes, and they work like a charm!

Update: 2004/01/19: Yesterday Chris and I replaced the radiator, and the 'termostat hose' completely successfully. It took only a couple of hours, and all is well. Alone it would have taken me 3-4 times as long. Chris has a great understanding of all things mechanical.
Note for anyone doing this themselves: Just because you have the seconday air injection system, you may not need the secondary air injection radiator. I was stupid enough to not feel for that sensor plug (just below the lower coolant hose) and paid for a $200 sensor I don't need.
Still, the whole job cost me $470 including parts, labor, and dinner.

Comments:
jhctex (2003-12-20): J-B Weld

Matt Bell (2004-01-19): Good job! I feel that the best thing about having a welder is being able to make your own tools!

Erik (2004-01-19): Yep, being able to do that, especially in a pinch is very very nice.

anil gupta (2007-04-30): please give me detail of viscus fan ,& how it's work.

Erik (2007-05-01): Anil, the viscus fan coupling is a device that connects a pulley on the serpentine belt to the cooling fan. It works by allowing the fan to slip, and let the fan rotate at a slower speed when cold. When the temperature of the coupling heats up, it increases friction and speeds up the fan. This action pulls a greater amount of air through the radiator, and cools the engine.

Amanda (2008-08-07): Your experience made me realize that there really is no quick fix for this problem. Kind of busted my bubble a little but hey better late then never. We are experiencing this problem with a borrowed vehicle from my father and now I know that this was a gradual problem and not something that happened over night. Thank you for sharing your experience.

Sherrie Ann Bronson (2008-09-09): I need to know asap step by step how to re place the busted radiator and hoes or better yet how to seal the crack on top of the radiator and re p lace the hoses.m please send me some, maybe chris bell or some one.
right now I can'nt afford to do other wise.

Erik (2008-09-10): Sherrie,
I don't have my shop manual in front of me right now, since I'm at work, but I can describe the general procedure for you now, and if you need more detail, I can look up the formal procedure tonight.

Basically:
1. Remove the fan cover (top)
2. Remove the fan. You'll need a special fan removal wrench kit for this.
3. Remove the fan shroud
4. Disconnect the oil and transmission fluid hose quick-connectors by pulling back on the connector bodies. (These are fiddly and annoying.) Plug the hoses, so dirt doesn't get in there. The hoses will leak, so you'll have to top-up the engine oil and transmission fluid.
4. Disconnect the coolant hoses (two large, one small)
5. Unbolt and remove the entire radiator assembly, including the main radiator, and two oil coolers.
6. Replace the radiator
7. Put everything back together
8. Top up engine oil, transmission fluid.

Samantha (2010-06-08): I procrastinated about 6 months when I noticed a slow leak in my radiator....until last Sunday when I spent an hour driving what should have been a 10 minute drive and 10 dollars for 3 jugs of water. Don't do it people!!! UGH

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