2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid - Why don't we clean radiators?

This is a question about any vehicle with an internal combustion engine: Why isn’t cleaning the exterior radiator channels a matter of routine maintenance? It seems maximum air flow through the radiator would be very important.

It is. Mine look ok?
Mine was broke from crash. New one is clean.
Ac condenser is real tight next to radiator.
Very hard to get in there.to clean

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lol …fin cleaning maybe needs a little more work there @Cavell .

OP, cleaning dust/debris from radiator is a good idea in theory, but in practice can be difficult to accomplish with the radiator installed. I tried cleaning my truck’s installed radiator with a pressure wand at a car wash, and the force of the spray bent the fins enough that the air flow was more blocked than it was before the cleaning attempt. Running a steam of low pressure water over the radiator face when radiator cold probably ok. But there are usually 3 or 4 rows of fins, so to really clean a radiator thoroughly probably have to remove the radiator first.

Who says it isn’t? Back at the shop I would routinely recommend cleaning debris from between the radiator and condenser, etc. Especially on some vehicles where there are 5 heat exchangers stacked in front of each other–radiator, condenser, trans cooler, steering cooler, turbo intercooler–and the amount of debris in there can be surprising.

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There used to be things called radiator shops. You would remove a radiator (it was easy) from the car and the shop would clean it inside and out, solder up the leaks, paint it black and you’d reinstall it.

These days radiators last longer, are much harder to remove, can’t be soldered up so they are not cleaned. They are replaced

So radiator shops are few.

And engine compartments are so crowded, you cannot clean them installed.

There is one about 5 miles from my home, but that is one of the few specialist shops of this type that I know of in the area.


I clean the radiators ever so many years on my vehicles; mainly due to the large amount of milkweed that gets in the air every spring and the massive amounts of wheat chaff in the air during and after harvest. Not to mention the trillions of insects being stirred up by combines and tractors.
I even have to clean out the central A/C condensing unit on my home on a yearly basis.

That radiator in the pic definitely needed cleaning if not replaced.

Just a random FYI in case you ever run into a situation where the engine temp runs normal in town but overheats on the highway. The first thought might be the radiator.
Always make sure any air dams (nose or radiator support) are in place properly since you mention a crash. Any issues in this area can cause the above overheating symptom.

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It is a matter of space , very hard to get at the radiators in todays cars . Basically as simple as that .

The reality is that most of today’s radiator failure is due to the age related plastic header failure instead of the metal coil failure.

Clean the metal coils all you want but after 10 years, when the plastic has become brittle, replacement is the only option.

OTOH, thanks to YouTube and internet suppliers, replacement has become an inexpensive DYI option. And BTW, don’t forget to replace the coolant with the OEM specified specified coolant.