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Old 04-08-2013, 07:07 PM   #1
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Radiator Burst!

Alright, I know that I sometimes do things that aren't that bright. I'm telling the story in hopes that it could help someone else down the road.

I took off all my body mounts, so I could clean up the frame, repair one section of frame, and POR-15 everything before I put her back together. I had jacked up the passenger's side, and slipped a piece of 2x8 between the frame and body, so I didn't have to keep jacking the body up to work on her.



I didn't think to much of it, and when I pulled the Jeep out of the garage, I left her running, so she could heat up, and not rust out the muffler.
I then proceeded to remove the roll bar, so I could make a rust repair. About 5 minutes later the "Check Gauges" light came on... I looked at it, nothing struck my eye, and then I went back to the roll bar. a few minutes later...

BOOM



The radiator blew the hell up! I immediately shut the car off and cleaned up the mess. As the long time Jeep owners already guessed, I stopped the fan from working when I lifted the body off the frame, and then she over heated.

I didn't get hurt, and everything looks fine, I just hope I didn't do any long term damage, except for my wallet.



I removed the old radiator, and cleaned up the fan (painted with POR-15), and engine bay. Now to get another radiator.


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Old 04-08-2013, 07:16 PM   #2
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EHHHHHHH, well at least you weren't leaning over it when it exploded, that would have been quite painful I think.

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Old 04-08-2013, 10:00 PM   #3
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EHHHHHHH, well at least you weren't leaning over it when it exploded, that would have been quite painful I think.
Yes, I am lucky I was off to the side when she blew up. When I researched it online afterwards, I fond only one other person that this happened too and he was burned.

This was a wake up call, and I will be more careful from now on.

-Jim
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Old 04-17-2013, 12:25 PM   #4
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I am currently looking for a replacement radiator. Any suggestions, as to OEM plastic style, over aluminum?

I also, am not 100% sure about the 1/2/3 core options. As well as the thickness... how thick can I go without infringing on the fan, belts, or motor?
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Old 04-17-2013, 01:04 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by G-LOVE View Post
I am currently looking for a replacement radiator. Any suggestions, as to OEM plastic style, over aluminum?

I also, am not 100% sure about the 1/2/3 core options. As well as the thickness... how thick can I go without infringing on the fan, belts, or motor?
When my radiator broke I looked at some replacements. I found this one on amazon http://http://www.amazon.com/gp/prod...=AB69UMROQUAO8
I didn't get a chance to order it as I could not wait on it to be shipped.
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Old 04-17-2013, 01:14 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by G-LOVE View Post
I am currently looking for a replacement radiator. Any suggestions, as to OEM plastic style, over aluminum?

I also, am not 100% sure about the 1/2/3 core options. As well as the thickness... how thick can I go without infringing on the fan, belts, or motor?
They all have just one core, there are 1, 2, 3, or 4 row options within that single core though. The early TJs came with a 2 row aluminum core radiator, 2001 or so and later came with a 1 row aluminum core which was a little better at cooling efficiency. So the number of rows doesn't necessarily equate to cooling efficiency. Fewer rows means the water channels can be made bigger but the number of rows that are best depends on the type of driving done. For Jeeps and how they are usually driven, a 1 or 2 row radiator usually works best.

Personally, I would stick with the OE radiator and just make sure to use the right coolant and to only ever add distilled water to it. Most tap water around the country is too high in dissolved minerals which will eventually clog the radiator. Distilled water, which is mineral-free, is sold by the gallon in the water aisle in any grocery store.
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Old 04-17-2013, 01:37 PM   #7
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Personally, I would stick with the OE radiator and just make sure to use the right coolant and to only ever add distilled water to it. Most tap water around the country is too high in dissolved minerals which will eventually clog the radiator. Distilled water, which is mineral-free, is sold by the gallon in the water aisle in any grocery store.
x2

OE seems to be the way to go for longevity.
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Old 04-17-2013, 01:44 PM   #8
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When my radiator broke I looked at some replacements. I found this one on amazon
I didn't get a chance to order it as I could not wait on it to be shipped.
Link fixed http://http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0073MG11A/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_8?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=AB69UMROQ UAO8
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Old 04-17-2013, 02:29 PM   #9
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OE seems to be the way to go for longevity.
If OE radiators were all that good, they would not be cracking tanks left and right.
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Old 04-17-2013, 02:32 PM   #10
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If OE radiators were all that good, they would not be cracking tanks left and right.
How many OE radiators have you gone through? Or are you just basing this off what you read online?

In my 98 TJ, I had over 13 years and 200K miles on the original radiator. In my 2004 TJ, I'm still running the original radiator with 131K+ miles on it.

Typically those who have issues are the ones who don't maintain the cooling system. I think over 13 years and 200K miles is doing very good for a radiator; it's certainly not going to last forever.

You'll see plenty of people with problems which makes it seem like an issue, but typically the radiators have served a very good life. The TJ is an aging platform, so you should expect to see them fail eventually. You see many more people running into issues with the cheap all aluminum stuff that is only a few years old if that.

I'll take an OE radiator over the cheapie radiator barn crap any day.
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Old 04-17-2013, 03:05 PM   #11
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Alright, I know that I sometimes do things that aren't that bright. I'm telling the story in hopes that it could help someone else down the road.

I took off all my body mounts, so I could clean up the frame, repair one section of frame, and POR-15 everything before I put her back together. I had jacked up the passenger's side, and slipped a piece of 2x8 between the frame and body, so I didn't have to keep jacking the body up to work on her.

I didn't think to much of it, and when I pulled the Jeep out of the garage, I left her running, so she could heat up, and not rust out the muffler.
I then proceeded to remove the roll bar, so I could make a rust repair. About 5 minutes later the "Check Gauges" light came on... I looked at it, nothing struck my eye, and then I went back to the roll bar. a few minutes later...

BOOM

The radiator blew the hell up! I immediately shut the car off and cleaned up the mess. As the long time Jeep owners already guessed, I stopped the fan from working when I lifted the body off the frame, and then she over heated.

I didn't get hurt, and everything looks fine, I just hope I didn't do any long term damage, except for my wallet.

I removed the old radiator, and cleaned up the fan (painted with POR-15), and engine bay. Now to get another radiator.
Assuming your present radiator is ok other than the tank being broken why not take it to a good radiator shop and have it checked and cleaned and new tanks put on may wind up cheeper in the long run. Just my 2 cents.
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Old 04-17-2013, 10:33 PM   #12
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The TJ is an aging platform, so you should expect to see them fail eventually.
As it turns out, I had three original radiators fail in the past year. 1982 Mercedes 300D, 1988 Jeep Cherokee, 2003 Jeep Wrangler.

Can you tell which one delivered the least impressive service life? Only the Wrangler failed catastrophically; upper tank cracked.

Quote:
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How many OE radiators have you gone through? Or are you just basing this off what you read online?
There have been plenty of reports on this forum about relatively premature radiator failures on TJ's.
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Old 04-18-2013, 06:11 AM   #13
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As it turns out, I had three original radiators fail in the past year. 1982 Mercedes 300D, 1988 Jeep Cherokee, 2003 Jeep Wrangler.

Can you tell which one delivered the least impressive service life? Only the Wrangler failed catastrophically; upper tank cracked.



There have been plenty of reports on this forum about relatively premature radiator failures on TJ's.
Playing devil's advocate for a second, say the stock radiators are as bad as you think they are. What would be a better substitute? I'll fully agree that there are better radiators to install, but for more than you'd pay for an OE one. If the cheap all metal radiators were as great as people think they are, you wouldn't see all of the threads about them only lasting a few years if that.

What amuses me is that people are fine replacing things like PS pump, water pump, suspension components, etc. when they wear out, but for some reason radiators should never fail... I'm very happy getting 13-14 years and over 200K miles out of a stock radiator, and there are many who agree; searching a bit will show that. You see many people who work on Jeeps for a living and claim they fix more cooling problems by replacing cheap after-market stuff with OE cooling equipment.

If you know of a better radiator at a better price point that outshines the OE radiator then please let us know; no one else seems to.
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Old 04-20-2013, 06:07 AM   #14
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Thanks for the replies, and points for thought. I have done quite a bit of searching, both online, and in person, at 4 automotive parts stores (Pep Boys, Auto Zone, Advanced Auto, and NAPA). The stores, all had shoddy looking thin core replacements.
I have decided to go with an all aluminum replacement from a seller on eBay (RADIATORS4LESS) that looks and sounds like it will the best option in my budget.

NEW 1 ROW ALL ALUMINUM RADIATOR 1987-2006 JEEP WRANGLER.

It's a single core (1.25") similar to stock, and is all aluminum. I have read about the possibility of poor construction (epoxy covering up poor welds), or that the "Lifetime Warranty" is just a marketing ploy. But, I have faith that this will work for me.
I will post pictures when it arrives, and after the install.

-Cheers,

Jim
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Old 04-26-2013, 12:24 PM   #15
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Wow, I must say so far I am very impressed with what arrived today. It is a full aluminum radiator, with a 1.25 core, and brass drain.



It's made by SILLA (part# 2102AA)



Nicely packaged. I removed some styrofoam for the picture.



Shiny!



The welds are a little chunky, but as long as she doesn't leak, I'm good with that... and if she does leak, I have the lifetime guarantee!
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Old 04-26-2013, 12:28 PM   #16
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Pretty but wow you're right, that welding isn't very impressive. I wonder if they needed to coat the interior with epoxy to prevent leaks which reduces coolant capacity.
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Old 04-26-2013, 01:20 PM   #17
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Pretty but wow you're right, that welding isn't very impressive. I wonder if they needed to coat the interior with epoxy to prevent leaks which reduces coolant capacity.
Well, as I looked inside all the opening, and she looked very clean, and I saw nothing but shiny aluminum slits that made up the inside core.

I am going to install her this weekend. I have my new 195˚ thermostat (that I drilled a small air hole into to help bleed the system), cleaned up hardware, and two gallons of GO-5 HOAT antifreeze that will be mixed 50/50 with distilled water. I should be good to go! I'll post pictures of the install, and after.

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Old 04-30-2013, 10:16 PM   #18
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I just had this same problem happen to me... My radiator didn't explode quite like yours but it cracked something fierce. I decided to go with an OE radiator mostly because I have seen all aluminum radiators that had bad welds and would start leaking in sometimes months. Even the champion ones from California have been know to fail. My OE one though failed from what I think the previous owner using dexcool or tap water. A lot of brown sludge came out of my system when I pulled the radiator. I figure if the stock one lasted this long from 97 and over a 100k with poor maintenance it had to be the way to go. I am just hoping the updated radiators with the single row are better than the 2 row one that I had.
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Old 04-30-2013, 10:32 PM   #19
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Well, as I looked inside all the opening, and she looked very clean, and I saw nothing but shiny aluminum slits that made up the inside core.

I am going to install her this weekend. I have my new 195˚ thermostat (that I drilled a small air hole into to help bleed the system), cleaned up hardware, and two gallons of GO-5 HOAT antifreeze that will be mixed 50/50 with distilled water. I should be good to go! I'll post pictures of the install, and after.

-Jim
You drilled a hole in a new thermostat? Never heard of that one. I normally just let mine idle until it warms up enough for the t-stat to open.
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Old 05-01-2013, 10:45 AM   #20
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Griffen

What a Griffen rad is any body running one of these its a sponser of this site right?
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Old 05-01-2013, 11:43 AM   #21
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My factory radiator recently started leaking ( 99 with 195k) . I picked up a factory replacement radiator for $105 with a small discount. My factory one lasted that long so I trust the factory replacement. Plus it had a lifetime warranty if it does fail.
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Old 05-01-2013, 11:46 AM   #22
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You drilled a hole in a new thermostat? Never heard of that one. I normally just let mine idle until it warms up enough for the t-stat to open.
Drilling a small hole in the flange of a thermostat is done to allow all the air trapped in the cooling system to escape. Many thermostats already come with a small vent hole for that purpose. The thermostat is installed so the vent hole is positioned at the top.
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Old 05-01-2013, 11:58 AM   #23
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I picked up a factory replacement radiator for $105 with a small discount. My factory one lasted that long so I trust the factory replacement. Plus it had a lifetime warranty if it does fail.
What factory? At $105 and a lifetime warranty, I would have to suspect that "factory" is not synonymous with "Mopar."
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Old 05-01-2013, 12:13 PM   #24
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What factory? At $105 and a lifetime warranty, I would have to suspect that "factory" is not synonymous with "Mopar."
Sorry didn't mean factory as in Mopar, I meant factory style. Its a replacement from auto zone, regular $150
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Old 05-15-2013, 08:58 AM   #25
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Well, the install went off without a hitch. I replaced one hose clamp (stock), thermostat, and thermostat housing.










Filled her up with fresh 50/50 HOAT Antifreeze/distilled water mix from Napa.
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Old 05-15-2013, 12:01 PM   #26
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AND...



Houston, we have a problem!



It doesn't look like I'm leaking from anything I did. All the hoses, and thermostat/radiator look dry. It's leaking from the front of the engine.


Did I fry the water pump?
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Old 05-15-2013, 12:16 PM   #27
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AND...

Houston, we have a problem!


It doesn't look like I'm leaking from anything I did. All the hoses, and thermostat/radiator look dry. It's leaking from the front of the engine.


Did I fry the water pump?
Any more specifics on where it's leaking from other than the front of the engine? If you could get a pic of exactly where it's leaking from that would help.
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Old 05-15-2013, 12:35 PM   #28
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I started her, let her get hot (8 minutes). She was leaking the whole time. I let her cool down, and the leaking stopped. Without starting the engine, I opened the radiator cap, it started to leak again, so I must have broke the vacuum in the system. I hosed down the engine, and driveway.

When everything was dry I started the engine again to really see what was going on. I got under the engine to observed it. It looks like it's leaking from the front of the oil pan. It is also slowly dripping further back from the oil pan, but I think that's gravity pulling it back.

Could be the water pump (did I toast it when I stopped the fan from moving)

Could it be a freeze plug? ( are there any in the front of the engine?)

Could it be the head? ( could I do engine damage if I shut her down immediately after she over heated?)
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Old 05-15-2013, 01:12 PM   #29
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My bet is the water pump is leaking through its weep hole which indicates its seal has gone bad & the bearings aren't far behind.
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Old 05-15-2013, 01:15 PM   #30
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When an engine overheats, it squeezes the sh!t out of the gaskets. But cast iron engines are not as bad as aluminum in this regard. I would re-torque the head gasket warm, and then let it cool off, and torque it cold. Anything else you fix if needed.

I'm guessing you need a new water pump, gasket, and serpentine belt. The belt would have gotten damaged when it was forced to slide over the unmoving water pump pulley.

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