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Old 03-14-2014, 12:38 PM
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Cleaning a neglected radiator

Hello folks,

I am in need of some advice on cleaning my own radiator. Sparing a long story, the radiator I got is NLA. I want to use something mild and let it sit in my radiator for a few days over the weekend. I've heard vinegar works for this. Anyone use this before? will it harm anything? I can Google this myself, but I came here to talk to someone that has actually done this or used something better.

The radiator is really bad and partially clogged.

Thanks for the help!

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Last edited by ThomasJoseph315; 03-14-2014 at 12:47 PM.
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Old 03-14-2014, 03:49 PM
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Just did that thing with my nova. I drain it every fall before I store it, but it hasn't been flushed for years. I came across K-mart was selling prestone radiator flush for a dollar. I bought two of them and did that last week.
warn it up and then pour it in and go for a little drive and let it set for a couple of hours so it can work good. Then you can flush it a few times before you put the new antifreeze in. If its not in a vehicle, you'll have to block off the openings and use hot water to mix with it to get it to work well. Just only fill about three quarts full and every once in a while turn it upside down. I've heard of people using vinegar, but it would take about a gallon or so. Don't know if that works or not.
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Old 03-14-2014, 04:38 PM
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Vinegar will eat lime deposits , not sure if it would do anything to rust ???
dave
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Old 03-15-2014, 03:51 AM
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Since you are saying it is in bad shape and clogged, I would just bite the bullet and get a new one.
I have seen many radiators over time that have been "cleaned". Some work for many years but ones that have a clog, not a chance. You are wasting your time trying to clear a clog you will never see if you got it all out.
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Old 03-16-2014, 06:15 AM
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Vinegar will work to remove water corrosion, but it won't do anything for blockage from dirt or excessive sediment. Its worth a try, but don't expect miracles.

If its a decent OEM all-metal radiator (no plastic, at least a two row), I would check with local shops to see what it costs to have it commercially cleaned. Its a fair amount of labor for a proper cleaning because they should unsolder the ends caps, rod the tubes, and solder them back on again after cleaning. They may also have an option to just clean it in a tank of solvent, but it won't get as much gunk out of the tubes.

You can probably buy a stock replacement for about $150 from one of standard parts stores (Advance Auto locally, Rock Auto by mail, etc., so just make your own decision on whether to fix or replace.

Bruce
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Old 03-16-2014, 09:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 75gmck25 View Post
Vinegar will work to remove water corrosion, but it won't do anything for blockage from dirt or excessive sediment. Its worth a try, but don't expect miracles.

If its a decent OEM all-metal radiator (no plastic, at least a two row), I would check with local shops to see what it costs to have it commercially cleaned. Its a fair amount of labor for a proper cleaning because they should unsolder the ends caps, rod the tubes, and solder them back on again after cleaning. They may also have an option to just clean it in a tank of solvent, but it won't get as much gunk out of the tubes.

You can probably buy a stock replacement for about $150 from one of standard parts stores (Advance Auto locally, Rock Auto by mail, etc., so just make your own decision on whether to fix or replace.

Bruce
It is an all metal radiator, but the problem is, as i said in the post, it's NLA. Because of that, I want to clean it myself. It is a 2 core radiator and 2 layers of the outer cores are bent due to a bird hitting it. I could take it to a place and have it cleaned but honestly, if they mess it up i am SOL. The closest replacement i found would be one for a similar car for $550 on average, and I would still have to custom make mounting brackets.

So,.. going back to the subject at hand of cleaning this one..
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Old 03-16-2014, 10:21 PM
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I could tell you stories about my rad shop experiences. Horror stories. Springs shops also.

Vinegar only softens mineral deposits. It is not good for degreasing or removing dirt. It is ok for copper / steel rads.
Sufrace rust will be dissolved. Major rust is a no go.
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Old 03-16-2014, 10:41 PM
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I put in a super flush in over the weekend, and have been flushing it routinely. I think Monday if it still over heats I am going to try power flushing it and see what comes of it.
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Old 03-19-2014, 01:45 PM
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So I was told this is a brass radiator. I flushed it with water Monday and also pulsated 130Psi of air into the tank as well. I think I got a lot of the crap out and the water flows freely now. Rumor has it that with my older gauge it reads true and not a "float or average" to it gives a true reading at all times. I'm not used to that fluctuating so much. Is this common on older cars? Do you see the temp fluctuate with the opening and closing of the thermostat & Fan?
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Old 03-19-2014, 05:47 PM
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I was surprised when I used that super flush on mine. I drained out about a quart and then put the two bottles in and then took it to coffee and then back home. The scenic route you know. I drained it into a bucket and was surprised what all came out of the rad and motor. I flushed it several times before I was done. I hadn't done that for about twenty years, so now I have a better piece of mine. I know, I kept telling myself for years I was going to do it, but put it off. If it wouldn't of been buying the flush on a sale, I'd would have put off a few more years.
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