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Old 10-31-2014, 06:33 AM   #1
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Leaky RADIATORS... how to tell??

After reading several threads about people having to replace their side radiators for big bucks, I began wondering how a buyer could determine whether they were looking at a good one or a problematic one?

Are the leakers only on 500HP engines? Only CAT or Cummins? Only on certain model years? Only side radiators?

Anybody have photos of what to look for...or can we tell beforehand?

Rick and Sandy
2003 American Eagle, 52K miles
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Old 10-31-2014, 06:48 AM   #2
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Usually a radiator will begin to seep slowly at first, commonly visible where the cooling tubes connect into the end plate. You can sometimes see this happen in the corners first. With time, the leak increases until coolant levels are being affected.

Other than inspecting your rad periodically and keeping it clean, I don't know what else you can do. If your radiator does begin to show external moisture, that's the time to remove the rad and have it serviced or replaced before it develops a serious leak.


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Old 10-31-2014, 06:53 AM   #3
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The best way is to do a thorough visual inspection. Look for evidence of a leak in the core and where the tanks meet the core. If you smell hot coolant after the engine is running, that might be a clue, especially if you rule out other possible leaks like hoses, fittings, etc.

Several manufacturers (Country Coach, Monaco, etc.) got some bad radiators during the 2003 - early 2007 model years. These were aluminum core radiators that were epoxied to the tanks. Many of them leaked.

I had a 2002 Winnebago Journey with an aluminum radiator and it was showing signs of a small leak developing in the lower left corner just before I traded it.

My father owned a radiator shop for 30 years and he always said all radiators, given enough time/miles, will eventually spring a leak.
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Old 10-31-2014, 08:59 AM   #4
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We have a 2002 Country Coach and it had an alu radiator 400 hp ISL Cummins. We had to lay out big bucks and park in front of a garage door for a week or so. There's some more information on the "owners corner" under Country Coach.
Good Luck
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Old 10-31-2014, 09:40 AM   #5
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Sorry to hear it, pumper, and sorry to hear that 400HP units suffered, too. Any photos of the old rad?
Rick and Sandy
2003 American Eagle, 52K miles
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Old 10-31-2014, 11:48 AM   #6
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A buyer should hire a mechanic to do a simple radiator pressure test. If it don't hold pressure, it could be from many different thing, but it will need to be looked over better, since any leak is bad.
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Old 10-31-2014, 12:19 PM   #7
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I'd agree with that, only I think that mechanic should be qualified and able to inspect a lot more than the rad. - starting his inspection at the front bumper and working his way back to the back one! People (myself included) have saved tens of thousands of dollars by having a pre-purchase chassis inspection done.

Many states require an annual inspection be done on all commercial trucks. Shops are used to doing them, and it's generally not expensive (200.?). If you find a shop qualified to do them, explain what you have going on (chassis inspection only - no appliances!), generally they're happy to see a new customer. You get an inspection done by mechanics used to working on this bigger stuff very reasonably!
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Old 10-31-2014, 01:11 PM   #8
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Mine replace at 15k just before we got it, Cat C9.
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Old 11-01-2014, 08:07 AM   #9
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I can't wrap my mind around how to look at one and tell.

Can anybody that has a known, "aluminum bonded with epoxy", core post a few photos of same? Is it quite obvious from street-side of the radiator?

Were any rear radiators involved?

Rick and Sandy
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leak, radiator

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