Radiator Repair: 3 Soldering Tips for Proper Restoration

January 27, 2012

Your car's radiator is essential to the engine being able to function properly, and when it has a hole or leak this will require radiator repair or soldering. If the hole or leak in your radiator is not too big or wide, you may be able to solder it closed and repair the leak. However, in order to achieve the best results when soldering a radiator, there are some things you should know. So, here are some useful tips on how to solder a leak in your car's radiator.

Clean the Area to Be Soldered Thoroughly

Before you attempt to solder the leak in your car's radiator, you should be sure that the area surrounding the leak is completely clean and free of any obstructions. Make sure to remove any paint from the leaky radiator by using a small grinder or steel wire brush. However, when cleaning the area to be soldered, be careful as to not cause additional damage that may increase the size of the hole or the leak. A radiator is usually made from softer types of metal, and it should be relatively easy to clean it before soldiering. When cleaning the damaged area of the radiator, use a quality degreasing agent or brake cleaner to ensure better adhesion between the soldering wire and the radiator.

Use a High Wattage Soldering Iron and Heavy Wire

Before you begin soldering the radiator, make sure that you have a high wattage soldering iron and heavy gauge, or very thick, soldering wire. Low wattage soldering irons will not produce the heat required to properly melt the soldering wire and the radiator together. Generally speaking, hobby use soldering irons are only about 30 Watts. So, choose a heavy duty soldering iron that is 60 watts or more as this much power will be needed to produce appropriate heat levels for soldering your leaky radiator.

Heat the Radiator with the Soldering Iron

When soldering your leaky radiator, make sure that you heat the damaged area of the radiator first. Hold the tip of the soldering iron to the radiator until it is hot enough to accept the solder and wire easily. After you have heated the leaky area of the radiator, slowly solder the wire into the radiator. Be sure to completely cover the crack or hole with an adequate amount of solder as to prevent it from leaking after the repair has been finished.

Grind to a Flat Finish

After you have completed soldering the damaged portion of the radiator, you will need to grind the area to where it is somewhat smooth. You can use a small wheel grinder or a steel brush to accomplish this. When grinding the repaired area of the radiator, attempt to only remove any burrs or sharp edges that remain in the soldered area. It is not really necessary that you grind the soldered area down to where it is level or flush with the rest of the radiator. The goal is to simply achieve a semi smooth finish that will last and keep the radiator from leaking.


Related Questions and Answers

How Can You Tell if Your Radiator isn't Safe for Soldering?

All radiator soldering is safe. There are really no conditions that make it unsafe to solder your radiator. If the vehicle is quite old and the radiator is falling apart, there is very little chance that soldering will help matters. If you have a small leak in the radiator, soldering it shut is often the best way to repair the leak. It is a good idea to try a leak seal product before resorting to soldering, but if that does not stop the leak, soldering is the next step. It is important to be very careful when soldering a radiator, as the metal they are made from is very delicate and can be easily damaged.

What is the Likeliest Reason Behind a Leaking Car Radiator?

The most common cause of a leaking car radiator is age or collision. As a car ages, the metal in the radiator starts to break down and deteriorate. It becomes thinner and gets weaker the more miles that are put on a car. Salt on the roads, rocks, and other road debris can cause a radiator to start leaking. The other common cause is a collision. If your vehicle is in even a mild fender bender, it can cause damage to the radiator. It is also important to use the proper coolant in your radiator. The wrong type or one that is not diluted properly can cause radiator damage as well.

Which Car Shop Chains are Known for Car Radiator Service?

Almost any full service car repair shop will perform car radiator service. Midas, while better known for its brake work is also well reviewed by both consumers and industry experts for its radiator service. They offer both repairs and replacement of a engine coolant systems. Another national chain that does excellent radiator work is Tires Plus. While selling tires is their main business, they provide a full service repair shop as well. It is important to remember that many of these shops are individually owned and operated, so try to read reviews of your local shops to make sure they do quality work.

Is it Normal for a Car Radiator Fan to Stay on after the Car is Turned Off?

A car radiator fan will often run for a few minutes after the car is turned off. This is not an issue as long as it is turning off after five minutes or so. If it continues to run, there is probably an issue with the fan sensor or relay. You should have the vehicle checked out by a professional if this is the case. If the fan continues to run every time you turn the vehicle off, check your coolant levels and possibly have the radiator flushed. If the fan is running all the time, it is an indication that the radiator is not doing its job as well as it could. Flushing the radiator can increase its cooling performance.

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