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Old 01-07-2004, 02:16 PM   #1
Jake H.
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Default clogged radiator cheap fix?

After replacing and/or inspecting every part of the cooling system on my '60 tbird except the radiator, I've determined that Murphy strikes again. The radiator must be clogged. With a new 160 degree therm. in, the car overheats within 15 min. of idling. When I touch the fins after this, the whole area is hot except for one spot on the lower left side. That spot is totally cold. Any shadetree fixes out there? I flushed the system already. A reman. radiator runs 300 bucks and I'm trying to avoid the expense right now.
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Old 01-07-2004, 02:35 PM   #2
Judd
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Default Re: clogged radiator cheap fix?

Hammy
Don't waste your time and money on a cooling system cleaning at the chain oil change places, I've been there and done that it doen't do s&*t. A radiator shop should be able to remove the tanks and rod out the tubes.
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Old 01-07-2004, 02:51 PM   #3
DrJ
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Default Re: clogged radiator cheap fix?

Take it to a small radiator shop. You know, the kind where you can actually see the boil out tanks and the actually talented brown guy back in the shop fixing tanks and blocking off leaking tubes...
Impress on the writeup guy that you want a rod out but if push comes to shove you don't want the core destroyed trying to get that last tube clear.
Impress on him that you will just have to walk if he tells you the core got destroyed trying to get it all clear and that you won't be able to pay him a nickle because you'll be spending the $40 a rod out should cost on a junk yard radiator instead of picking up yours.
If he doesn't understand and keeps muttering it may need a recore, take it somewhere else before he even touches it.
Like someone else said, having the quickie and lube flush it is gonna run a big hunk of that much anyway.
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Old 01-07-2004, 02:56 PM   #4
yorgatron
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Default Re: clogged radiator cheap fix?

throw a gallon of vinegar in there,run it for 3 days,flush it.it works-george
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Old 01-07-2004, 02:59 PM   #5
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Default Re: clogged radiator cheap fix?

Also those prestone flusk kits don't realy work that good. My radiator buddys tell me to remove the thermostat and back flush the system with steaming hot water and high presure air in the reverse direction of the natural flow. I don't know of to many rad shops that do it that way anymore. Harrys radiator in Moses Lake still will do it that way but thats a 3 hour drive from Seattle. I went through the same thing in my Falcon, so I pulled the rad, and flushed it from the bottom up after I overheated it. You can make a good flusher with a couple of ball valves and a water hose and compressed air, or try the quarter car wash high presure wand and try to back flush the rad that way. Now my Falcon cools great..good luck
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Old 01-07-2004, 03:02 PM   #6
Petejoe
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Default Re: clogged radiator cheap fix?

I agree rodding that radiator out is the best way to go. But if you want to try throwing around some money for a possible cheap fix, try CLR. Pour the stuff in full strength and run it for a while like that. Its corrosive so not too long.,
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Old 01-07-2004, 03:08 PM   #7
yorgatron
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Default Re: clogged radiator cheap fix?

i'd like to try that CLR trick one of these days,but it kind of scares me how fast that stuff works.vinegar is only 5% acidity so it works good on radiators that aren't all that fucked up.
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Old 01-07-2004, 03:52 PM   #8
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Default Re: clogged radiator cheap fix?

Vinegar,,, Works good in the coffee maker also.
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Old 01-07-2004, 05:32 PM   #9
safariknut
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Default Re: clogged radiator cheap fix?

I related this sory once but it's worth repeating:
On our way back from Massachusetts a year ago my 55 Safari was overheating something horrible.I had flushed the cooling system prior to leaving and must have dislodged something that plugged the radiator.
Stopped at my aunt's house in Jamestown NY and yanked the radiator to have it cleaned out.Radiator shops in NY no longer clean radiators chemically thanks to the EPA.
My solution(as the radiator was out already and I was still 300 miles from home)was to get 2 gallons of Liquid-Plumr from the hardware store,tape up all the openings(except the filler cap)with DUCT TAPE and fill the radiator with the Liquid-Plumr.Capped it off and let it set for about 2 hours rotating it 90 degrees every 15 minutes or so to let the stuff get in everywhere.Back flushed it a few times until it was running clear and re-installed it.This car is a pain to bleed the cooling system because of the under seat heater so most of my antifreeze got blown out.Filled it up with straight water and drove home.Actually I drove it for almost another whole year before it started acting up again.Finally replaced the radiator.$300 but worth it;guy recored my old one using my tanks and side brackets because of a special fitting on the lower tank.Real copper core too.
Just an emergency solution that worked great for me.
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Old 01-07-2004, 09:38 PM   #10
Jake H.
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Default Re: clogged radiator cheap fix?

Thanks for the tips. I've heard of the ol' vinegar trick before and I think I'll try that first. Seems a lot of guys have had luck with that. If that doesn't work, then I'll try the rod out option. There is a radiator shop right here in west seattle that looks to be an old-school type of shop. I've been putting off asking around there just 'cause I guess I'm just a stubborn diy'er. Either that or too cheap.
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Old 01-07-2004, 10:00 PM   #11
Jimv
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Default Re: clogged radiator cheap fix?

One thing is that usually when a rad is clogged it overheats when driving, especially on the highway, not at idle or that fast!!
But if you want to flush it, pull it out keep the cap on it,turn it upside down & stick a hose in the bottom radaitor hose & flush it that way, you be amazed at all the shit that comes out the bottom( top rad hose)
JimV
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Old 01-08-2004, 01:24 AM   #12
Jake H.
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Default Re: clogged radiator cheap fix?

Yeah, Jimv, I might have misinformed about exactly when it overheats, in fact, I drove it tonight with the heater on and it was fine, didn't overheat, but stayed too hot for a 160 thermostat in winter. It overheats in the summer whether you're driving or idling. Puked and stalled pulling into the Hotrod-arama from vaporlock it was so hot. Still haven't quite lived that one down. Anyhow, the radiator might be hard to backflush outside of the car because it only has an inlet and outlet. The cap actually goes on the expansion tank, housing the thermostat as well, bolted to the intake. Funky FE Ford setup in a car with no hood clearance.
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Old 06-21-2010, 12:55 AM   #13
danielle98chevy
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Default Re: clogged radiator cheap fix?

does that vinegar trick really work, my 98 lumina is clogged and i dont want my stepdad to have to buy a new radiator...
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Old 06-21-2010, 01:11 AM   #14
Rickybop
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Default Re: clogged radiator cheap fix?

Vinegar, CLR, The Works toilet-bowel cleaner...they all work well as an at-home radiator cleaner. Rodding out a radiator can turn out to be a "destructive" proposition, and should be attempted only as a last resort. BTW...if you want to prove to yourself that the radiator is really plugged, do a home flow-test...fill the radiator, then allow to drain out the bottom hose...it should empty very quickly.
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Old 06-21-2010, 08:30 AM   #15
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Default Re: clogged radiator cheap fix?

First try a garden hose. seal it in with a rag turn it on full blast. then reverse it with the hose in the lower opening. You will know if it's working by what comes out.
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Old 06-21-2010, 02:31 PM   #16
danielle98chevy
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Default Re: clogged radiator cheap fix?

well i told my mom about the vinegar thing and she said that whatever is in the radiator has turned into sludge or something like that... would it still work?
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Old 06-21-2010, 02:39 PM   #17
Engine Pro 5X
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Default Re: clogged radiator cheap fix?

Vinegar And Water ??? Does your radiator Smell Like FISH ??? >>>>.
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Old 06-21-2010, 02:56 PM   #18
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Default Re: clogged radiator cheap fix?

WELL,,,you can buy a NEW warenteed radiator for about $100-$120 bucks ,,from ,,
www.radiator.com why mess with wives tales fixes ??? fix it once AND go cruzin' ,,
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Old 06-21-2010, 03:00 PM   #19
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Default Re: clogged radiator cheap fix?

OH ! and free shipping to your FRONT DOOR ,,In One Day !!!i've bought a dozen or so radiators from em over the last 10-12 years ,and they're great ,,yes ,,they're not made in the USA ,,
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Old 06-21-2010, 05:19 PM   #20
Road Runner
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Default Re: clogged radiator cheap fix?

Professional cooling system de-scaling is done with Sulphamic acid for hard water, lime and antifreeze build up. Oxalic acid is used to remove rust.
Sulphamic acid crystals are available at the hardware store in form of 'grout and tile cleaner'.
Oxalic acid crystals are available in form of 'wood bleach'.
Containers say what acid is used and its pure acid cystals with no other additives.
Available in 16oz. containers, which gives the right mixing ratio with water for the typical car cooling system with 3-4 gallons capacity.

Properly diluted, both acids are just as mild and safe as vinegar (acetic acid) and citric acid, but are more effective and cost is the same.
These treatments are safe to use with copper/brass radiators.
It is supposed to be safe with aluminum radiators as well, but I would do some tests first to determine how much reaction time is actually safe.

Oxalic acid used to be sold as a heavy duty 2-part cooling system cleaner over the counter until a few years ago. Recommendation said to do this annually...

For best results it's essential to keep temperature at engine operating temp and to keep the flow going.
Instructions are to drain and flush first, then fill with the diluted acid mix and run the engine at fast idle for 3 hours.
Do one acid treatment at a time, starting with the sulphamic acid, then drain and flush, followed by oxalic acid, then drain and flush.
The final step is to neutralize any remaining acid with a mix of washing soda and water and run the engine again for a while, then drain and flush and finally fill with coolant, but using distilled water instead of tap water, this time.

These methods really work exceptionally well.
I did both, back to back, on my old engine that had serious scale and rust build up.
Before the treatments and despite a new 3 core radiator, coolant temps easily climbed above 180 during the hot summer months with harder use.
After the treatments, the same engine now needs the thermostat to even get up to 180 degrees, even in the summer.

Very cool ...
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Last edited by Road Runner; 06-21-2010 at 06:36 PM.
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