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So im restoring my 97 TJ.. needed a radiator. Saw some for $350 or so then a friend said- hey I can get you one brand new for $75 bucks. well I went for it and that plastic junk leaks all over. I JB welded one part then another part leaks

yuk...lesson learned :banghead:
 

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Just happened to me to! 70 shipped, leaks at top. I still won't pay 350..... But 150-175 I believe is decent for one. Thinking all aluminum this time.. Just put it in 2 days ago. Sucks.
 

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Jeep TJ - Metal 3 Core Radiator Installation

Years back I follewed this guys instructions after seeing my 2000 4.0 damn near over heat. I oppend the hood and there was coolant bubbling all around the edges to the OEM junker. plastice hemmed to metal... stupid. Anyway the guy on that link recomened a 3 core all metal with a lifetime backing. He paid $155 back in the day. Its $330. I dont remember what I paid but Ive been extremely happy with the unit. It think the two core is about $200. Im sure that would work just as well as a commuter in the north. I know buying the 3 core was probably over kill but when I was on a streatch of open highway with a way too hot engine in the middle of an MN winter with my daughter beside me I thought overkill was ok.
 

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Actually your radiator was a 3-row design that is within a single core... it wasn't a 3-core radiator.

And the number of rows is no direct indication of cooling ability, that depends on the vehicle's intended usage... like higher speed highway needs vs. low speed offroad needs. In other words, a 3 row radiator is not necessarily better at cooling than a single row radiator is. So in many applications, a single row radiator that has larger diameter water tubes cools far more effectively in uses typical to Jeeps than 3 row radiators that has smaller diameter cooling tubes.

Jeep actually switched the TJ from a 2 row aluminum core to a 1 row aluminum core radiator in the early 2000's for slightly better cooling efficiency/ability.
 

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One other clarification. The 3-row CSF radiator linked to above is the perfect example of a "downgrade" radiator that offers lower total cooling capacity than a stock Jeep radiator.

I don't want to get too deep into Physics, but the metal that offers the best heat conduction is copper, which is not used in radiators AT ALL, becaue it is too weak to contain pressure. Aluminum is second best and is used in the stock Jeep radiator and all quality aftermarket radiators. Radiator Barn, CSF, etc. sell a brass alloy radiator that is also painted. This brass alloy is genuinely a lower performance material than aluminum, and the paint adds a layer of insulation over that - but the paint is necessary to prevent the corrosion from the solder flux used to assemble brass radiators.

Brass radiators offer one clear advantage over aluminum - they can be repaired with hard bar solder, acid flux, and a MAPP torch. After which you need to spray them with a pressure washer to get the flux off, and paint them. I have never seen such repairs on the trail, most people including me carry "JB Weld" epoxy and "Bars Leak" sealer for radiator repairs, and that works for ALL radiators.

I am NOT saying that brass radiators cannot be made to work. But many people replace radiators this time of year and then have trouble the following Summer, and the radiator replacement was enough months in the past that they disregard it as a contrubuting cause. But never-the-less when they drive uphill on a hot day in the Summer, the Jeep overheats when it never did so before they downgraded cooling capacity to a marginal value.

To add some detail to what Jerry said: more rows of cooling fins gives more cooling capacity at low speeds, but offers more resistance to air flow. Multi-row radiators are often optimal for low speed crawling with an effective radiator fan. But they offer increased air resistance on the highway that causes more air to buypass the radiator and less to flow through at speed. The single-row radiator that is optimal for highway use, also trades off ultimate low speed cooling when crawling the trails. As with most things in life, a happy compromise that works at both high and low speeds is ideal.
 

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I picked up a Drake radiator from 4wheelparts for ~$300. It's all aluminum, welded, and runs waaaaaaayyyy cooler than the stock radiator did. Sitting in traffic before, it would slowly creep up. Now I'm lucky if it gets to/goes above 195*, even with the stock 195* thermostat in it.
 

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jeep radiator

Many of the OEM radiator leaks are from the rubber seal inbetween the plastic tanks and the aluminum core leaking.When the radiators were assembeled the plastic tanks were crimped on and after time they need recrimped to tighten them back up.I have a radiator tank tool that resembeles a pair of plyers that dosent close all the way [to prevent over crimping].I just bought a 2000 tj and I noticed that the radiator is seeping at the tank seals and needs recrimping.The best thing is to buy the all aluminum single core[ 1 to 1&1/2 inch wide core ] and be safe.I can't afford getting the 300 dollar radiator now after just replacing the transmission so I will be recrimping my OEM radiator to stop the seeping till I can afford the new radiator.
If you are careful you can recrimp your OEM radiator with a pair of pump plyers, just be careful not to squeeze to hard and crimp each one to the same distance.If you change the gasket you have to be very careful not to break the flanges off from metal fatigue when bending open the flanges .When replacing a sealing rubber gasket I just open the flanges enough to pry the tank off so I don't break the flanges off.
 
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