Repairing vs Replacing a Damaged Radiator: Which Is Best?

Repairing vs Replacing a Damaged Radiator: Which Is Best?

1st Apr 2021


Repairing A Radiator Versus Replacing

Does your vehicle have a damaged radiator? As part of your vehicle's cooling system, the radiator plays an important role in protecting against engine failure. Coolant will flow through the engine where it collects heat, after which it will travel to the radiator where the coolant releases this heat. 

With a damaged radiator, however, heat may build up inside of the engine to the point where it causes catastrophic failure. If your vehicle's radiator is damaged in the form of a leak, you have one of two options: You can either repair it or replace it. Repairing or replacing your radiator should fix the leak so that coolant can perform its intended task of cooling the engine.


You might be surprised to learn just how easy it is to repair a damaged radiator. Assuming the leak is minor, you can often use a stop leak product. Stop leak products, such as Bar's Leaks, are designed specifically to fix radiator leaks. When poured into the radiator -- you may need to drain the existing coolant first, so read the instructions -- it will bind to the leak. The stop leak product will then harden so that coolant doesn't leak out of your vehicle's radiator.


It typically costs less to repair a damaged radiator than to replace it. Depending on the make and model of your vehicle, you can expect to pay anywhere from $200 to over $1,000 for a new radiator. In comparison, you can repair your vehicle's damaged radiator for just a fraction of the cost. Stop leak products are available for less than $5. Alternatively, you can attempt to patch the leak using fiberglass mesh and epoxy. Regardless, you'll probably save money by opting to repair your vehicle's damaged radiator.


Replacing your vehicle's damaged radiator, on the other hand, may last longer than simply repairing it. It will offer a brand new radiator for your vehicle that's devoid of any leaks or defects. Some repairs can last forever, but others may only last for a short period. If your repair your vehicle's damaged radiator, the leak may return, in which case you'll have to perform the repair all over again.

The Bottom Line

A damaged radiator is a serious problem. When there's a crack or other breach in your vehicle's radiator, it won't be able to contain the coolant. Running your vehicle will create pressure inside of the cooling system. The pressurized coolant will then escape through the crack or breach.