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Old 07-20-2009, 03:48 PM   #1
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Radiator Replacement and Extended Warranty Service Insurance

Ah, radiatorsÖ, donít you just love them? Yup, Iíve also got one of the aluminum leakers. It failed at the 13,500 mile point and the replacement/repair with an extended maintenance policy with American Guardian is beginning to turn very ugly. From all the postings in this forum it would appear the consensus is that aluminum radiators are, from the beginning, not suitable, and the possibility of repairing them doubtful at best. A local shop here in San Diego has already done quite a few aluminum radiator replacements with the improved steel and brass units constructed at Macís Radiators, Portland, OR. In fact, one of our local Alpine owners with the same model year as ours is now operating with a replacement from Macís with excellent results.

The shop, R.V. Specialists, has quoted a price of $7900 and my ďfriendsĒ at American Guardian are offering $3000 to repair and reinstall. I just got off the phone with a service writer at Holland Motor Homes, here in San Diego, and he stated that they have had absolutely no problems with aluminum radiators that have been rebuilt locally. These rebuilts have gone into Country Coach and Monaco coaches with no recurring problems. Hollandís price is substantially lower than R.V. Specialists; but they couldnít give an exact quote because they didnít know the size of the Alpineís radiator. They did say that they recently repaired both the radiator and charge air cooler on a Country Coach and the total bill was $5500. Cummins Cal Pacific here in the local area says they use the same repair shop as Holland; but usually when they send in an aluminum radiator for repair the shop calls back and tells them itís not repairable. Their price on a repairable, removal and replacement runs about $4000. I then called Mark at Guaranty, Junction City, OR, and asked his opinion of rebuilding aluminum radiators. They donít do it because they generally donít stay repaired. An aluminum, OEM type, r & r at Guaranty generally runs around $5000 and takes a couple weeks.

So, my questions for our learned group would be these three items:
1. Whatís the current opinion regarding aluminum radiators being repairable?
2. If you were to replace an aluminum radiator with another of aluminum construction; what brand/type would you consider Ė are there any good ones out there?
3. How do you deal with these insurance companies when they are out there in another world when it comes to time allowed to do a job and the method of repairs vs. outright replacement?

If I have to fork over the $5000 to cover the difference and have the peace of mind that the job has been done right and I can expect future reliability, then Iíll probably do it. The big issue is dealing with a warranty company that wants to go on the cheap. They wonít be the ones stuck out in the boonies waiting for a tow truck.
2019 Dutch Star 3736
(Freightliner chassis)
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Old 07-20-2009, 06:05 PM   #2
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Where was the leak at in the radiator?
Tom & Laurel

2000 Alpine Coach Limited 36FDS
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Old 07-21-2009, 12:11 PM   #3
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Tom & Laurel,
The leak was at the lower rear corner. From all I've read and this Forum, that seems to be the place where most leaks are found. Mine was still at the fairly minor stage when I found it. In fact, we had just finished a 3,500 mile trip and found the leak in our driveway -- now that's a good place, much better than out in the boonies somewhere. I thought it would probably continue to leak at a good rate, with no pressure on the system it pretty much stopped leaking for a week. Of course after driving it the 10-15 miles to the shop it started again.
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Old 07-21-2009, 04:39 PM   #4
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Hi Dick,

Here are a few suggestions:
1) my research tells me that aluminum radiators once leaked can not be repaired. The tube to header joints are epoxyed and fail due to vibration.

2) Contact Burk Morgan to see if he has any of the "super" aluminum radiators left (he bought a bunch of the "new" design) 509-961-0996.

3) Extended Ins: fight, fight, kick and scream, threaten legal action.

The American Guardian quote barely covers the labor to remove and install a radiator on an Alpine.

Loving my new brass and copper radiator
2006 Alpine 36 FDDS
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Old 07-21-2009, 05:14 PM   #5
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Had ours replaced in January. The insurance company (US Warranty) insisted on an OEM radiator but they paid for all but the freight for the new radiator. Total cost for the replacement was $5500.00. I paid $315.00

While I am stuck with another aluminum radiator, the mounts were changed and the radiator is an updated version of the original. Hopefully I will get 5+ years of service out of the new one for $315.00
Jerry & Judy, Fremont, California
2017 Dutch Star 4018
Freightliner, HWH Active Air
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Old 07-21-2009, 06:20 PM   #6
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WRV replaced our leaking radiator w/a "new" aluminum one in July 2007. Our leak was small and we had been aware of it for several months. No problems for two years (fingers crossed of course) w/the "new" aluminum radiator.
2005 40' Limited FDTS

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Old 07-23-2009, 08:00 PM   #7
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On 08/15/2009 replaced my leaking radiator @ Onan Indiana with a Radiator Specialties p/n RS-5042R, $2,083.10, freight charge $109.56, 8 HR labor @ $82.00/HR. Total bill was $2,848.46. Installation also included rubber bushing revision to dampen vibration the radiator is subject to.
05 40FDQS
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Old 07-23-2009, 08:27 PM   #8
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It would appear that many of you have had a much better experience with your extended warranty insurance plans than I. As I mentioned, my insurer, American Guardian wanted to “rebuild” my radiator with a new core using my top and bottom caps. They would allow $2998 for the total job, that included a $1500 rebuild, $175 for freight and 16 hours labor; that was it – period. Obviously Jerry and Judy and “bigfish” had better results with their insurers. By the way, a new copper and steel radiator from Mac’s, out the door price, is $2800. That really isn’t all that bad compared with a new aluminum model. What really runs up the bill, at least here in San Diego, is a more realistic, i.e. higher, freight bill, the actual time for installation which is universally agreed to be approximately 22 hours, new hoses and clamps, new coolant. Of course, here in poor ol’ California, Arnold takes his “pound of flesh” in taxes. It’s hard to believe, but when you add all this stuff up it really does come in at just under $8000; leaving me to write the big check. It looks like it just got bigger because I just found out that I too have copper brake lines. Let’s see, copper brake lines, aluminum radiator, and a potentially deadly steering box – nice coaches we’ve got, don’t you think?
Back to the insurance issue; obviously the maintenance policy underwriters have an ever dwindling pool of resources due to the economy and the failure of so many coach manufacturers. Fewer R.V.’s, fewer policies sold. That means the policies in effect are a big drain on their resources and they will probably do everything possible to keeps costs down and still make a profit. That only makes sense. Actually all the “fine print” of these policies is pretty much the same; it’s the policy of the company when it comes to how they address the individual claims that differ. That too is obvious when we see how the various companies treat a radiator failure.
Possibly it would be of some value to our Forum readers to start a topic/thread regarding experiences with these various extended maintenance warranty companies and find out the good, bad and ugly of each. That information might be a valuable tool when we either buy another new coach one of these days or even buy a “non-new” extended policy on our Alpines when the existing policies expire. Something to think about…
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