What to Look For When Buying a Second Hand Radiator for Your Car

If you need a new radiator for  your car, a second hand one could be a good option which will save you some money. However, there are some things you should be aware of to look for when buying one to make sure you get a good one.

What to Look For When Buying a Second Hand Car Radiator

  1. Visually check the core (the middle aluminium section of the radiator) and the cooling fins to ensure there is no damage or bends, and that most of the fins and still straight. If the car has been in a frontal accident, chances are the radiator has had some impact and is probably not in the best shape. Also look for cracks in the core tubes (the thicker bits that run along the core) to ensure there are none. If there are, the radiator will leak.
  2. Check the radiator end tanks and the inlet and outlet tubes on them. These tanks will either be on the top and bottom or on each side of the core, and are usually black plastic (but some are aluminium). Being plastic they can lose their strength over time and get cracks or go soft and leak. Check to ensure the inlet and outlet tubes are still firm and are not cracked or crumbling.
  3. If the radiator has an inbuilt coolant tank, check that as well and look for signs of leaks around joins and places it meets the radiator. Also check the inlet and outlet pipes on this as well.
  4. Check the interior condition. You can visually inspect the radiator through the inlet and outlet pipes to see how clean the inside is. The cleaner it is, the better the radiator has been taken care of with regular coolant changes. Other times you will find that the insides are coated with brown, usually indicating the car didn't have regular coolant changes. This may not necessarily be a problem for the radiator but it is something you should be aware of.
  5. If you can, check the radiator while still on the car, ideally with the engine running. When the engine is running, the coolant system is under pressure, so this will reveal any leaks that the radiator might have. Another way you could test this is to run some water through the radiator and see if it leaks anywhere. This won't be as accurate a test but something is better than nothing.

If the radiator passes all these tests, you should be good to go. Like any second hand parts, you never really know how long they will last, but radiators (particularly OEM ones) can last decades and should be fine if they are in good condition.

If you need a radiator for your VW, Audi, Skoda, Citroen, Volvo, Peuegot or Saab, give us a call on (09) 829 2618 or email info@aawreckers.co.nz.

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