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Thread: Radiator recommendations?

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    Senior Member PGuru's Avatar
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    Default Radiator recommendations?

    I'm looking to get a new radiator for my Celeb (89, V6) and was wondering what you guys recommended?

    Ideally something within 100-150$

    Thanks in advance!
    1989 Chevy Celebrity (Garage Queen)
    2000 Honda Civic (Daily)
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    Senior Member Century7667's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PGuru View Post
    I'm looking to get a new radiator for my Celeb (89, V6) and was wondering what you guys recommended?

    Ideally something within 100-150$

    Thanks in advance!
    Here's my recommendation buy a NEW radiator from someone like Spectra-Premium, etc. The NEW replacement radiators for these cars will come with significantly thicker cores than OEM. And it does make a difference. IMHO, the radiator is the single biggest factor in cooling system performance. Don't bother with flushes, just put that NEW radiator in, and fill the system with distilled water and green coolant. If you keep her clean with distilled water, that radiator will outlive the rest of the car, and you'll not have to worry about engine cooling.

    Ken T.

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    Senior Member PGuru's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Century7667 View Post
    Here's my recommendation buy a NEW radiator from someone like Spectra-Premium, etc. The NEW replacement radiators for these cars will come with significantly thicker cores than OEM. And it does make a difference. IMHO, the radiator is the single biggest factor in cooling system performance. Don't bother with flushes, just put that NEW radiator in, and fill the system with distilled water and green coolant. If you keep her clean with distilled water, that radiator will outlive the rest of the car, and you'll not have to worry about engine cooling.

    Ken T.
    Most of the ones I've seen (besides the generic auto parts store ones) are all Spectra radiators. Are there any other brands to look out for? I'm definitely planning on buying new. From what I can tell, this is what I need: http://ecat.spectrapremium.com/products/CU738

    Now I have two options both of which will cost me the same price
    1) Buy from the Spectra from RockAuto (two year warranty)
    2) Buy from 1-800-radiator for similar spec radiator (lifetime warranty)

    Thoughts?
    Last edited by PGuru; 03-09-2017 at 02:20 PM.
    1989 Chevy Celebrity (Garage Queen)
    2000 Honda Civic (Daily)
    2006 Ford Ranger (Sold)
    2000 Subaru Forester (Sold)
    1994 Toyota Camry (Scrap)

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    Senior Member Century7667's Avatar
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    In 33 years of maintaining my own wheels, I've had only one radiators go bad. The OEM radiator in my S10 started leaking after 5 years. I've ran Spectra, Ready-Rad, Four Seasons, and the all did well.

    When it comes to warranty, it's only as good as the seller. My gut and experienc says go Rock Auto. The have RMA'd stuff for me with no issues.

    Having said all that, the biggest single factor is coolant, specifically the water you mix in. If the coolant is mixed with CLEAN distilled water your radiator will last pretty much forever and you won't have the need for flush kits and chemicals. If you don't introduce the minerals that come with tap water, you'll never have the need for a flush. Down here in Houston we have traffic and heat in spades. I've never had any cooling system failures down here in the worst 100+ degree summers stuck parked in traffic.

    Hope this helps.

    Ken T.

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    Senior Member PGuru's Avatar
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    The only time I had coolant flush/fill was when I was on a 3 week roadtrip last summer (very far from home) and I ended up going to a shop and had them do it with pre-mixed green coolant. Car ran like a champ and didn't have any issues getting back home so I was planning on doing the same with the new radiator as well.

    This is the stuff: http://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/pr...p.html#Reviews
    1989 Chevy Celebrity (Garage Queen)
    2000 Honda Civic (Daily)
    2006 Ford Ranger (Sold)
    2000 Subaru Forester (Sold)
    1994 Toyota Camry (Scrap)

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    Senior Member Duke George V's Avatar
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    I purchased this all-aluminum radiator recently. I will likely be installing it this weekend. I have a 2500 mile road trip planned for spring break, and the 3-year-old plastic radiator has already started leaking. I will report back with results. It looks really well made.
    Daniel
    Kaiser George IX: 1996 Buick Century Special wagon. 213-SFI. 186k miles. Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down. First documented LX9 swap in an A-body! Click here to read my build thread!
    Goldilocks: 1992 Buick Century Special sedan. 204-MFI. 112k miles. Will be the wife's car soon.
    Susana: 1993 Buick Century Custom wagon. 204-MFI. 121k miles. Garage ornament. Waiting for... some fun!

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    Senior Member CorvairGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duke George V View Post
    I purchased this all-aluminum radiator recently. I will likely be installing it this weekend. I have a 2500 mile road trip planned for spring break, and the 3-year-old plastic radiator has already started leaking. I will report back with results. It looks really well made.
    That's a nice looking radiator! It has the dual transmission coolers too.

    I've got Spectra's in both Century's right now. The '92 had what I think was a G&O/Ready Rad from Schuck's/O'Reillys. The tanks were bulged and cracked on it, but not leaking yet when I pulled it.
    Jerry

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    Senior Member Century7667's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duke George V View Post
    I purchased this all-aluminum radiator recently. I will likely be installing it this weekend. I have a 2500 mile road trip planned for spring break, and the 3-year-old plastic radiator has already started leaking. I will report back with results. It looks really well made.
    Nice! If you go with an all aluminum heater core, you'll have no ion exchange in the system. With mineral free coolant, should last pretty much forever.

    Ken T.

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    Senior Member Century7667's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PGuru View Post
    The only time I had coolant flush/fill was when I was on a 3 week roadtrip last summer (very far from home) and I ended up going to a shop and had them do it with pre-mixed green coolant. Car ran like a champ and didn't have any issues getting back home so I was planning on doing the same with the new radiator as well.

    This is the stuff: http://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/pr...p.html#Reviews
    That should be good. I'd just stay away from "flush" additives. Wasted money, and they can compromise your intake and head gaskets. They contain acid to remove minerals from the radiator, but they also attack gaskets. This is why radiator manufacturers recommend distilled coolant mix ( or a pre-mix like you got). Tap water has mineral content, which precipitates and collects on the coolant passages of the radiator over time. Pure water won't do this, and will never need a flush. I know I sound like a broken record, but I have seen so many posts over the years about overheating or worrying over cooling systems. But, it doesn't have to be that way if the coolant is right. And,I never worry, I just get jump in the car and hit the road.

    Now my transmission.....that's another story!

    Ken T.

  10. #10
    Senior Member CorvairGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Century7667 View Post
    This is why radiator manufacturers recommend distilled coolant mix ( or a pre-mix like you got). Tap water has mineral content, which precipitates and collects on the coolant passages of the radiator over time. Pure water won't do this, and will never need a flush. I know I sound like a broken record, but I have seen so many posts over the years about overheating or worrying over cooling systems. But, it doesn't have to be that way if the coolant is right. Ken T.
    X2
    Same radiator in the Caprice for 21 years and around 175K miles. Still looked like new inside when the seam failed. The original radiator was so calcified inside by 24K miles with the Lake Ontario / well water GM used it was shocking.
    Jerry

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    Senior Member Century7667's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CorvairGeek View Post
    X2
    Same radiator in the Caprice for 21 years and around 175K miles. Still looked like new inside when the seam failed. The original radiator was so calcified inside by 24K miles with the Lake Ontario / well water GM used it was shocking.
    Maybe it looked like mine:



    7 years, only about 80,000 miles. Bought this car ('95 Century) it was getting hot, and using some coolant. I added these:



    Stopped the leak, but the did not help the cooling. Probably extended the life of the LIM though. When I tore it down years later, I was the seal tab material reinforcing the coolant passages, but the radiator was toast from minerals and sealtab deposits.

    Replacing the radiator and filling with clean coolant mix made a very significant difference in engine temperature. Note also the core differences between OEM and aftermarket:



    This is a Spectra Premium (looked up the part number). It also has larger tanks and TWO coolers, on for either side. $96 on Amazon. I got mine locally 8 years ago in Houston from a wholesaler. If someone wants a specific recommendation, this radiator is proven in my book. But, I really like Daniel's all aluminum radiator too.

    Hopefully these picks will speak better than my bad grammar! (I type faster than I can think!)

    Ken T.
    Last edited by Century7667; 03-11-2017 at 03:31 PM.

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    You can't go wrong with Spectra. It is a good stuff and can beat everyone else pricing wise.

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    Never bought a new one. Flushed old w/ 50% HCL (just for a Minute!) then flush again. When done, I put the hose to cap opening, wrapped a grocery bag around it tight, and plugged all other openings. I used silver solder over any leaks. Then retested with the hose. Since municipal water is 50 PSI and a radiator doesn't exceed 15, my rad never leaks. These new Aluminums, I think Id have to just replace. Maybe JB weld?

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