Leaking coolant... Cracked radiator? - JeepForum.com

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post #1 of 40 Old 04-20-2012, 07:19 AM Thread Starter
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Leaking coolant... Cracked radiator?

So here's the situation. About 2 months ago I had an oil change performed on my jeep at VIP (I had a gift card there from Christmas that I used up). The change and "courtesy inspection" they do went well, and everything seemed ok. Immediately upon pulling off their lot I noticed I barely had any heat at low RPM's. While getting up to speed, etc, heat was fine. Checked the coolant level, reserve was almost empty. I topped it off (after searching EVERYWHERE for the recommended HOAT coolant I gave up and threw in some Prestone 50/50 to get me by until I could do a proper flush and put in the recommended stuff. The heat loss issue continued off and on, each time I noticed, I would top off the reserve with more Prestone. Spring came, temps warmed up, things seemed ok.

Now, walking out to my Jeep yesterday I noticed a drop of coolant falling from the front, and a nice wet spot forming in the dirt. Upon inspection I saw this:

From what I've been reading on here, it's probably a cracked radiator. What do ya'll think? If not, what should I be looking at before I attempt to replace this myself, and is MOPAR the way to go for the replacement. If it matters, the Jeep is a 2006 KJ with 122,000k on it in pretty much stock condition, other than tires which do cause a bit of vibration (maybe this wore out the plastic overtime causing the crack?)...

Any input or words of wisdom would be great. Thanks!

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post #2 of 40 Old 04-20-2012, 08:33 AM
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Very nice pictures and diagnosis.

Ill hit a few quick topics here - tjkj knows alot more about it but I've had to replace my radiator in my 02' KJ renegade about 7 or 8 times.

HOAT coolant can be found unmixed at either the jeep dealership (its like a red ish pink) or at a ford dealership (premium gold coolant). You can also get another comapny at just a parts store (so I've heard.. its Zerex) but I can never find it there.

122,xxx miles sounds like your radiator was just about at the end of "normal" life from what I hear from people and when they have to replace them. My radiator failed (for the first time) a few weeks after a minor car accident (5mph). I would definitely go ahead and replace the radiator as it seems to me you can clearly see the leak on the plastic.

DO NOT USE AFTERMARKET RADIATORS!!!! Really, just dont. The mopar one was about $200 more in my case, but I have been through 7 aftermarket radiators as they just dont seem to be made well. The aftermarket radiators for the KJ are designed for 12 psi systems. The KJ runs at 18 PSI (across all models as far as I know) and this has led to so many issues for me. Go with the mopar one. It fits better, is designed correctly, and well worth it in the end. The radiator swap is also pretty straight forward, I think I can even do it in my sleep after doing it 7 times in 7 months. You will have to take out 2 rivets at the top just behind the hood latch but those can be replaced with short bolts.

While its all opened up, I would recommend replacing the upper and lower radiator hoses if they look like they might be wearing out (being in Maine, I'm sure you have the same salt issues I started to see on mine down here in MA). I would also recommend a new thermostat and thermostat housing. These 4 parts are combined less than $75 if I remember and I've had to replace them all shortly after working on the radiator the first few times but it's really up to you.

"What do you mean it don't work? Just hit it with a bigger hammer!"

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post #3 of 40 Old 04-20-2012, 11:30 AM Thread Starter
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kj617- Thanks so much for the info. What are your thoughts on a Napa radiator? My local Napa has thishttp://www.napaonline.com/Catalog/Ca...P_RecType%3aA) in stock for $199. How would that stack up to a Mopar radiator? It also shows it as having a limited lifetime warrantee. It's nice enough out today that I think I might go take a closer look and try removing the stock one now. Also, is this something that can be temporarily fixed with some JB Weld or Loctite until I get paid next friday? Your thoughts are greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance!
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post #4 of 40 Old 04-20-2012, 01:58 PM
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just so you know i had a crack in mine, i had a guy epoxy the hell outta the area then vaccum the coolant system to pull the epoxy through the hole, heated and dried it. just a cheaper suggestion if applicable

'04 Jeep Liberty
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OME NS131 Front Struts, OME927 H/D front Springs, Strut Top Plates; Rear OME948 H/D springs, OME132L Rear Long Travel Shocks and pair of rear extended bump stops.
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post #5 of 40 Old 04-20-2012, 03:33 PM
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Yea, if you do the epoxy right I don't see why it wouldn't work.

I've tried both the Napa and Spectra supplied by Napa under their limited lifetime warranty. The limited part means if the damage is caused by you or your jeep they don't cover it. I had the radiator replaced by them 4+ times without hassle but now they're insisting and refusing to cover and further replacements as they insist its a head gasket issue.

I did however have multiple different pressure and vapor tests done to look for head gasket problems and found nothing. Napa refuses to accept my test results and refuses to run their own tests.

I would just strongly recommend buying mopar if you buy at all.

"What do you mean it don't work? Just hit it with a bigger hammer!"

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post #6 of 40 Old 04-20-2012, 04:49 PM Thread Starter
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So here it is. It's leaking right where I suspected. It's a small hairline crack near the top drivers side. You can barely feel it with your fingernail if you scratch across it. I'm thinking I'll either epoxy it, or add a little coolant each day this week while I wait to get paid and just keep an eye on it. One of my buddies suggested Bar's Stop Leak but I'm weary about throwing that in there... I'm fortunate enough to live close to everything in town, and only have a 15 mile commute to work and back so i'm HOPING it holds out until I can properly address the radiator with the Mopar replacement next week. Thanks for all the input guys.
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post #7 of 40 Old 04-20-2012, 08:18 PM
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Don't bother with trying to fix it with epoxy,it will never last,trust me I know.

Yep go for a OEM radiator.I can swap my radiator in less then a hour due to junk aftermarket radiators since I had to change them about every 5000 miles or less.Big tip for removing/installing the radiator is to take out the battery tray(and battery),also unplug/remove the airbag sensors bolted to each side of the radiator supports(engine bay side) so you don't break them.

'02 Liberty sitting on 35" tires,HP44,RockJock60,and AtlasII t-case
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post #8 of 40 Old 04-22-2012, 12:10 PM
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Epoxy will work as a temporary fix. Tjkj is correct it will not last. Speaking from experience it's better just to replace the radiator. It cost me less than $200 to replace with a brand new lifetime warrantee radiator, new hoses, and new thermostat.
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post #9 of 40 Old 10-29-2014, 02:05 PM
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I have the same exact problem and will take your advice about NAPA.Have any of you heard of Quadratec?? Are they better then Mopar.
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post #10 of 40 Old 10-29-2014, 02:28 PM
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just had the exact same thing happen to mine. I believe i had a the original radiator in there...and at 180000kms it was about done anyways, and had that crack on the top drivers side. I ordered a mopar radiator from tascaparts.com and it was $225 (compared to $450 from the dealer here in Canada). Took about an hour after I finally cracked loose my HD cooling fan that looked like it had never been removed..
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post #11 of 40 Old 10-29-2014, 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by BushmanKJ View Post
I have the same exact problem and will take your advice about NAPA.Have any of you heard of Quadratec?? Are they better then Mopar.

Just save yourself a lot of problems, get the Mopar rad. Look online for some of the discount real Mopar sellers. You will be miles ahead.

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05 KJ CRD 545RFE, GDE Eco tune, Franky II, Al's 4.5 A-arms, JK Rubi Moabs, Silent Armors 245-70-17's, Spidertrax Adapters, Rola Basket, Fumoto Valve, Pinch welds pounded - Sold 2015
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post #12 of 40 Old 10-29-2014, 07:04 PM
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The stock radiators in these vehicles are plastic. I don't see why an "OEM" is a must if it's plastic. They are NOT made to last over 100,000 miles by design (neither are many of the sensors).

You should buy a new radiator (any that is good quality), replace the water pump (stock ones are not made to last over 100,000 either), t-stat, upper and lower hoses. Do it all so you won't be stranded.

I did mine at 110,000. Was surprised it lasted that far. Engine was over heating but I got it home safely and I had a leak in that same exact spot. To combat that leak, I tried Bar's "Stop Leak". It reduced the pinhole spray down to a very very slow weap (it worked). However, it may have damaged my water pump (or the water pump was already well on it's way out, I cannot say) which then led to the engine overheating several months later.

I purchased everything from NAPA, whom I known to trust through past experience (I've yet to have a NAPA part fail). 10,000 miles, 16 months since the replacement of my cooling system, and perfection so far...
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post #13 of 40 Old 10-29-2014, 08:04 PM
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My buddy went through 9 NAPA replacement radiators in 15-16 months

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post #14 of 40 Old 10-30-2014, 05:19 AM
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I'm on my third Mopar rad in 9 years. For the price, I expect them to last a lot longer. I'm not going to bother with Mopar next time, I'll get a much cheaper Silla.
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post #15 of 40 Old 10-30-2014, 09:12 AM
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I'm on my 4th radiator (193,000+ miles). All of them cracked at the same place- top driver side. The last failed radiator cracked within a year. The one that's installed now seems to be a better quality than the last few, at least by outward appearance. Fingers are crossed.

I still have the original water pump/ thermostat. Again, fingers are crossed that it will give me some warning before it fails catastrophically.

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