‘97 hairline crack on radiator

Joined
Nov 1, 2005
Messages
12
Hey folks,
Got the surprise of finding a hairline crack in the top of my radiator today. I’m expecting that I’ll need to fully replace it, and from what I’m reading it’s not an easy job so I’ll probably be taking it into the shop to do it.

But, just in case there’s a good and reliable solution to this that doesn’t involve a full replacement. Has anyone have any luck with any epoxy or similar for one of these?

80C2E40D-B087-491B-B674-106C9C11DCA1.jpeg
 
Joined
Nov 13, 2010
Messages
1,038
I would just replace it. It could just be the photo and the coolant leaking to the seam where the plastic meets the aluminum, but it looks like it may be leaking at that seam as well. Doing it yourself isn't as hard as it seems. I've replaced a few and if I can do it so can you.
 
Joined
Dec 10, 2007
Messages
7,830
Replacing the radiator is the best route, without a doubt, and not all that difficult.

However, to answer the OP's question, if you're a wild and crazy guy who likes to live dangerously and If you're in a real pinch and absolutely need to drive your vehicle as is, you could try what I did, patch the tank with fiberglass cloth and two-part epoxy.

I was in a hurry when mine cracked, was leaving town the next day (flying) and couldn't find a radiator locally and needed that vehicle immediately so did what was meant as a temp repair, but then because it worked I wanted to see how long it would last.

I'm still driving that 80 (albeit with the radiator cap on the first click) but only locally and plan to replace the bandaged radiator soon.

The method I used was to get the plastic surface very rough using something like 40 grit sand paper and cleaning all traces of grease/oil/coolant off, then using strips of fiberglass cloth (Lowes sells it) you need to saturate the strips thorougly working the epoxy between the fibers before you apply it with a two-part epoxy. I initally applied maybe 4-5 layers of that to reinforce the plastic tank maybe four inches to either side of the crack and the full width (top) of the tank front to rear.

KEY part is that the first layer must be completely soaked/saturated with the epoxy before you apply it as well as applying some epoxy on the plastic before you lay it down so that first layer sticks well. Then repeat that for at least 5-6 layers. I didn't get that first layer quite right so had to add more layers a few more times afterwards but it eventually sealed off, mostly. You'll want a slow curing epoxy also, the quick curing type won't give you enough time to work.

There is a another ?possible option, use a hot staple plastic welding tool first to put some metal staples across that crack, then melt some plastic and smoosh it across the crack, then use the fiberglass cloth and epoxy over the whole mess. I didn't do that myself due to having no time, but the hot staple tool costs about as much as an aftermarket radiator.

Again, not recommended to patch it unless you just need to do it as a temp fix.

FWIW here's a link to hot staple tool however IDK how well it may work if used on a radiator tank:

 
Last edited:
Joined
Jul 26, 2020
Messages
212
Location
Juneau, Alaska
I did mine last week - first radiator I’ve had to do. It’s really not hard, and not technical, just a little bit of a process with draining coolant, loosening headlights, removing battery/box & fan/shroud, draining coolant & knowing where all the bolts are, and then topping everything off at the end. Also be real careful not to bump the fins/tubes when reinstalling. Don’t be afraid of it if you wanna do it - If you’re decent with puzzles and basic tools, shouldn’t be a problem. I made a mellow night of it in the garage with tunes & beverages, took my time and kept hardware organized.

One of the youtube videos on it is from a Toyota tech who keeps saying it’s such a “bear” of a job, but I’m not sure what he’s talking about...
 
Last edited:
Joined
Nov 9, 2012
Messages
11,565
Location
Olathe, KS, USA
Hey folks,
Got the surprise of finding a hairline crack in the top of my radiator today. I’m expecting that I’ll need to fully replace it, and from what I’m reading it’s not an easy job so I’ll probably be taking it into the shop to do it.

But, just in case there’s a good and reliable solution to this that doesn’t involve a full replacement. Has anyone have any luck with any epoxy or similar for one of these?

View attachment 2737876
Buy a new radiator from Toyota. Yes they are available.

It's not a "hard" job. You need to just work your way through it one bit at a time.

You can do it!

 
Last edited:
Joined
Jan 19, 2017
Messages
213
Location
Apache Junction, AZ
Id did the epoxy route to buy me sometime. It worked long enough to get a replacement but I didn't do anything that would put a heavy load on the engine. I have a 92 so the procedure isn't the same but it wasn't hard by any means. Just take your time and make sure you have the correct tools.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top Bottom