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Stranded in Guatemala with a cracked radiator

My son, working in Guatemala, just emailed me that their 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee radiator has a 12" crack along the plastic tank on one of the ends of the radiator. He’s way out in the boonies with no access to parts, has about 5 days of driving before he can get back to ‘town’. He can either epoxy the plastic tank and reinforce his fix by sticking some metal or plastic pieces over the epoxy OR he can go to a local welder/solderer and they can try to fabricate a replacement tank out of some copper sheeting he has. Does anyone have another fix to offer or recommendation? Remember - this will need to be a ‘bush’ fix - no access to parts.

My suggested alternative is to loosen the radiator cap so no pressure builds up. Shoe goo or epoxy the crack, run the heater and drive slower if it runs too hot, keep an eye on the coolant level and replace fluid with the proper mix if needed.

I vote for the epoxy fix. One worked for me for about 4 months. I even had hopes of it being permanent. When it finally failed, I replaced the radiator.

Yes, do the epoxy, and remove the thermostat to lower the operating temperature and eliminate pressure in the cooling system. Leave the radiator cap loose and carry plenty of water…Do a test run to be sure the cooling system is reasonably stable before heading out…

Have him try dumping a few tablespoons of ground black pepper in the radiator and then fill the radiator. Start the engine and let it idle until the leak stops.


He probably knows this, but the equivalent of JB Weld is sold in Guatemala as “Epoxy Mil”

He can also run a jumper wire and have the radiator cooling fan operating at all times until a new radiator can be had.
A running fan can make a big difference in the level of the coolant in the radiator and can ease the pressure a bit.

Thanks all. I sent him a link to this thread. He decided to trust the local fabricator to recraft a metal reservoir. And I just heard, after his buddy got his wallet stolen, and neither could get their ATM cards working for a day, that they are 8 hours down the road to ‘town’. Woohoo.