Cracked Radiator

I have a 1984 Camry with 340,000 miles on it. I just noticed a hairline crack in the top of the radiator, with a very small amount of seepage.

The manual shows the possibility of replacing just the top part of the radiator (the “upper tank”), rather than the whole thing. What are the pros and cons of each strategy?


At 340K miles, I would expect the entire radiator is due for replacement anyway. Are you planning on keeping this car for the long term?

The others on here know the name of the sealant (Something like a solder, I think) you could use.

Being an old car (BTW, congrats on getting that many k’s out of it) and want to keep it awhile longer, I’d find a good used rad and pressure test it before installing.

I find most quick fixes don’t work. But that’s JMHO.

I agree, I wouldn’t bother with that patch stuff either. Personally, I would put in a new radiator if I was going to keep the car.

A Camry with that mileage still has lots of life in it and deserves a new radiator. Overheating problems with today’s engines are so serious that not having a perfect cooling system is asking for trouble.

J.C. Whitney lists a replacment radiator for $78.44. You can replace it in an afternoon if you’re handy enough. The patch stuff might hold up, might not. But I’ll betcha that the rest of the radiator, especially the inside, is corroded. I changed the coolant on my 89 Accord every two years, but after 350,000 miles the inside was shot and I began to experience slight overheating. Changed the radiator in an afternoon. When I had the old radiator out, I cut it apart and could not believe the corrosion. Mostly you will be removing shrouds and wiring, fans and stuff like that. Once you are down to the radiator itself, it’s bolt-in with only two hose connections and (maybe) two line for the transmission, which are easy as pie. If you don’t want to do it yourself, get a price on the labor from a mechanic you trust. Either way, I’d say replace it now and go for another 340,000 miles. Good luck! Rocketman

Try 1-800-RADIATOr. They sell new aftermarket radiators made in Taiwan for about the same as you’d expect to pay at a salvage yard. THAT’S where I buy all of my radiators. If they don’t have a warehouse near you, they will send it via FedEx for the same price. Having a top tank installed will be almost as expensive, and still leave you with a core and bottom tank that are 340,000 miles old.

Personally, I prefer OEM parts for something critical like radiators, but I have no idea of the cost for that car.

I would opt for the cheap aftermarket radiator replacement. As others have said. you could do this yourself, in an afternoon, or have it done at a local shop (NOT the dealer though) and you will last the rest of the life of the car. I would NOT waste time or money on a patch or partial replacement. If the car is worth keeping, spend the extra 40 or so dollars (compared to just repairing the radiator) and replace it and be done with it. I would be keeping a close ear on the rest of the car now (at this age.) When the car “talks” to you, listen and take care of the little noises and this puppy should last a couple more years.

I’ve had good luck with this guy:
I’ve never bought one through eBay from him, but through his website (there’s a link on his eBay page). Most of the units I purchased were actually made in Canada, not Taiwan. They all fit prefectly, and I never had one fail. I usually order one in the afternoon and it arrives the next day.
The Go-Dan radiators that Advance Auto Parts sells are almost all Taiwan sourced, and they are higher than the Doctor’s. But I have used them on occasion, and again never had a problem with them.
I’d guess one for an '84 Camry would run around a hundred bucks or so + shipping.

Sure we all PREFER OEM parts, but a dollar is a dollar. I have given customers the choice of an OEM vs a Taiwan radiator several times. So far, NO ONE has wanted to put out the extra cash. I’ve bought dozens of them, and haven’t had one come back yet.

Hi John,

A couple of years ago, I had a weep on the top (plastic) part of the radiator in my '89 Honda Accord LX-I. I tried several different epoxies to repair the leak to no avail. For piece of mind, I purchased a replacement radiator from (1-800-248-8720). They are located in the San Francisco Bay area. I had the replacement radiator delivered the next day. The cost was approximately $110. The radiator works fine.

BTW, when I add water to my radiators, I ALWAYS used distilled water. The water from the local water company is very hard and contains lots of minerals.

Captain Jack

As I said, I have no idea of the cost for that car. Radiators are generally inexpensive (as parts go), I think I paid about $250 the last time I bought one. For me, it would depend how long I intended to keep the car.

If the area is easily accessed you could simply sand the paint off of the cracked area (assuming it’s not a plastic tank), apply some flux, and then silver solder the crack with a propane torch. This could possibly be done without removing the radiator from the car.

Due to the age and mileage, I would not worry about replacing part of a radiator. It’s not really cost effective since a new radiator can usually be gotten for a reasonable price.