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Old 01-13-2020, 08:53 AM
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Radiator leak

I've had my 2002 TJ for a couple months. Been spending a lot of time doing repairs and getting it working well. Not much time driving it. Today I unhooked the plow so I could drive it around a little on the road and in the process noticed a minor radiator leak. I've been keeping a close eye out for leaks and spent a bit of time underneath it in the garage, and this is the first time I've seen anything. However, it's been running low on Radiator fluid. I put about a quart in a few weeks back (all I had on-hand), but it didn't bring it to full. I just mixed up some more and put in another quart+. It's now full, but leads me to think this isn't the first time it's leaked.

Looking for other radiator threads, it seems OEM radiators are recommended and further advice is to change out the water pump while you have it apart. (My TJ has 109K on it)

My main question is: What sort of risk is there in delaying this work? It's the middle of winter and it is my plow vehicle. I really would rather not have it out of commission while I deal with all of this. Once the weather warms up, I'm happy to take the time to pull it all apart and replace whatever needs replacing, but that's still close to 3 months away.

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Old 01-13-2020, 09:10 AM   #2
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If I were going to milk out the repair I think I would get a smaller pressure radiator cap to lessen the pressure. Back in the 70’s I would use some “Bars leak” to buy myself some extra time. Used to be able to get it at Walmart or parts stores. It looks like an oil with sawdust pellets mixed in that blocks leaks. That always worked for me. I’ve also heard you can pour a can of black pepper in there to stem the leak. “Old army trick?”
These days I would worry you might stop up the heater core. But...it has worked on my old jalopys I used to drive.

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Old 01-13-2020, 11:52 AM   #3
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as long as you don't let it get low/run hot I don't see any issue. you know to keep a close check.


using the Mopar replacement is probably the best advice you will get.



also, best to only use only Mopar or Zerex G05 fluid. Don't cause yourself unnecessary issues, no matter the" all purpose" claims made on the cheaper jugs.
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Old 01-13-2020, 11:56 AM   #4
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... noticed a minor radiator leak.

... further advice is to change out the water pump while you have it apart.

My main question is: What sort of risk is there in delaying this work?
A coolant leak is a significant concern for any engine. Sure, it looks small now so you figure you can ignore it for a while. The thing is, this is the sort of problem that doesn't fix itself. It will keep working fine, right up until the time that it doesn't.

Obviously, you need to swap in a new radiator. This is a relatively simple operation on a TJ. Replacing the water pump at the same time is fiscally wise in that it will save you having to buy new coolant twice, but that's a relatively small expense.

Given your situation, I would say you can certainly put off replacing the water pump until you are past plow season. For now, just replace the radiator and keep on truckin'.
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Old 01-13-2020, 12:38 PM   #5
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Avoid store-brand or online brand radiators, they just don't hold up as well and that level of radiator doesn't cool nearly as well as the Mopar does.

And don't get impressed with radiators bragging about more rows. A 2-row doesn't necessarily cool better than a 1-row does and a 3-row doesn't necessarily cool as well as either of the two others do. In fact Jeep changed the 2-row Mopar radiator to a better 1-row design around 1999 or so and it cools better than the 2-row it replaced.

If it were me I'd only go with a Mopar. It'll keep the engine cool in any conditions providing the rest of the system is good like good coolant, water pump, and the correct 195 degree (NON-failsafe) thermostat.
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Old 01-13-2020, 02:25 PM   #6
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I wouldn’t wait to replace it.
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Old 01-14-2020, 10:18 AM
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Zerex G05 is what I'm using, though I should pick up more. My last truck needed it, and so does my wife's car. Good idea to keep some on-hand.
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Old Yesterday, 11:01 AM   #8
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why would wrangler offer two different style radiators? I believe barb fitting vs non barb is what parts stores sell, one for $100 and one for $200 in my town
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Old Yesterday, 11:51 AM   #9
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why would wrangler offer two different style radiators? I believe barb fitting vs non barb is what parts stores sell, one for $100 and one for $200 in my town
Some aftermarket are designed for Auto trans vs Manual trans and does not have a trans fluid cooler.
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Old Yesterday, 02:40 PM   #10
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why would wrangler offer two different style radiators? I believe barb fitting vs non barb is what parts stores sell, one for $100 and one for $200 in my town
Connector fitting styles vary quite a bit. Some are barb, if you get lucky that is, most are not.

One style of radiator has an extra/separate section inside for use as an ATF cooler for automatic transmissions. Most aftermarket radiators are this style since it fits vehicles whether they have an automatic or a manual transmission which just wouldn't use the cooler fittings. The other style doesn't have the cooler, it is strictly for use on vehicles with with manual transmissions.
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Old Yesterday, 02:57 PM   #11
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ok because even after I specify that I have a manual, the big name stores still offer the two options.
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Old Yesterday, 04:20 PM   #12
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ok because even after I specify that I have a manual, the big name stores still offer the two options.
At the moment, one online parts vendor is offering ten different radiator options. That's sort of the way things work with aftermarket parts.
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Old Yesterday, 05:04 PM   #13
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ok because even after I specify that I have a manual, the big name stores still offer the two options.
What's the problem? As explained above you can easily use either option.

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