Plugged Radiator?



Hi All,

I have a 98 Durango, took it to the shop for waranty work and they say the radiator is plugged, the thermostat is shot, water pump leaks and other stuff. My question is this, how the blazes do they tell if it is plugged, will a flush help, and is there a chance I can take it out and back flush it to un-plug the darn thing? My brother suggested using a caustic crud such as CLR, that does not sound good! I haven’t the extra $150 to buy a new one untill probably January.

Thank you in advance for the help!


What kind of work were you having done? Was it related? Has there been any other indication, other than the dealer, that you have a radiator problem? While there may be good reasons for addressing all those problems, I find it funny that they all just now showed up.


They can tell if it is plugged in a couple of ways. Some radiators you can look into. Otherwise, you can point a remote-read thermometer at it or feel it to see if the temp is even. All of these things could easily be wrong if the coolant was not changed when it should have been or poor water was used in service.


P.S., if it is not over heating, and you pay attention to the coolant level refilling with the proper coolant (not water), you might be O.K. until January. If the water pump is really bad, it could leave you stranded. If the thermostat is stuck open, you are using a lot more gasoline than you should be. If it sticks closed, you can overheat and be stranded.

Do not use CLR. I doubt that it is worth trying to clear out the existing the radiator.


some stop leak stuff will plug the radiator if it is used the opposite way that the instructions say. There is almost no other way. So; does the engine wait ten minutes and blow water out of the overflow, or does it never overheat. I will submit this reply and reread the OP.


An “extra $150” WON’T buy a radiator for your Durango. An extra $250 will. This is one of those instances of “been there, done that”. My friend’s 1998 Durango was running a “fever”. Once I learned the price of the “medicine”, I looked for “alternative medicine”. Walmart (auto parts stores, also) had the COOLING SYSTEM FLUSH KIT, and the COOLING SYSTEM CLEANER for under $20. When used as directed on the packages, the Durango’s “fever” was gone! And, it hasn’t come back (over a year ago). ++++++ me_art12


Comments on stop leak and on flushing…

While stop leak may stop a leak, it will further plug the radiator. It’s an equal-opportunity orafice plugger.

I recommend against flushing a system that already has a leak. It could turn the leak into a gusher.

Your best move from here is to simply fix what needs fixing. Additives are not the way to go.


Take me-art’s DIY chemical flush approach and see what happens first. It is entirely possible that will solve the problem, less any water pump leakage problem.

Do you have any symptoms of overheating or losing coolant? Based on the dire statements by the dealer, you would be seeing one or the other occur. Otherwise, with careful watchful waiting, the repairs can be deferred.

Plan on at least $225 (12 mo warranty) to $350 (life warranty) for a radiator replacement, part only. Changing radiator and thermostat is not all that difficult.


A temperature scanner can show what parts of the radiator are hotter than the others from the outside. Before I’d spend money trying to clean out a radiator that old, I’d just replace it along with the other work at the same time. Warranty work?


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