radiator explosion

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Jan 19, 2005
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WTF? I was driving my dad's 93 fzj80 today for about fifteen minutes. The tempature was about 90 degrees. I had the a/c on medium, the truck was not over heating. As I pulled into my school parking lot BOOM the radiator exploded . Blew the top apart. When I got out I noticed the fan belt and water pump belt were loose enough to pull off by hand. We had the belts changd a month and a half ago. Is this what caused the radiator to explode or what? Is it common for this to happen with the stock radiator after 230000 miles. We had it towed to the place that changed the belts to see if it was there fault or not, We think they might have done it wrong, causing the radiator to explode, but then wouldn't the truck of overheated also if the water pump wasn't working. any comments appreciated, thanks
 
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leonard_nemoy said:
As I pulled into my school parking lot BOOM the radiator exploded . Blew the top apart.
I had the same thing happen on one of my 80s. No warning of overheating and BOOM....at 78,000 miles. Fortunately I was under Toyota extended warranty because it damaged the hood so bad it had to be replaced. What they finally ruled as the cause was the water pump drive belts broke and the radiator cap didn't pop. I don't know if I agree with that (because I had changed the cap and belts months earlier), but there was no head gasket issue and no other overheating issues before or after. I do recall that the dealership told me they had seen the same thing before and it was known to be an issue with these radiators.
 
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Mar 27, 2003
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I am not impressed with 80 series radiators...

Both of my 80's have needed a replacement before 110k.

Some might say "well an expected ~100k miles is not bad...."

The 40 is 30 years old, has over 200k miles, and there are no problems...

What happened to all-metal rads? :ban:
 
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Red Triangle
I went for an aftermarket all metal unit and I'm glad I did. No problems at all. With the new 350 V-8 in, I may take it out and put in a Ron Davis unit.
 
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WE had the belts changed because they were worn out and the po used the wrong ones. Sounds like what happened to you elmariachi It shredded the stuff on the inside of the hood.
 
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Sounds like the coolant had gotten low. Then the drive belts were too loose for effective fan cooling. Then you had a lot of heat being generated with the A/C which was barely below the cooling system's ability to keep from boiling over while you were moving on a street. When you slowed and were in the parking lot, the boiling point was reached and it blew the plastic top tank. If the rad were full, it can better resist boilover.

I'd say the fault was with the loose belts. If they were literally loose enough you could remove them by hand, then someone forgot to tighten them, or tightened them and forgot to tighten the locking bolts that prevent them from loosening. I'd also speculate that at some point a mechanic leaned heavily on the plastic top tank and caused some partial cracking that now failed. Nothing wrong with the stock radiators, but any system or component can be abused and fail.

DougM
 
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Norfolk, VA
 
 
 
I just had the same thing happen to me about an hour ago. Same situation except i didnt even have the AC on and it is only about 80 degrees max outside. Out of no where when i stopped at a stoplight, BOOM! and then steam and coolant everywhere. I just called to get it towed to the shop where coincidently i just picked up from getting serviced yesterday. I will let you know what happened when we can figure it out.
 
Joined
Apr 3, 2003
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When you guys say 'BOOM', does it literally mean that the plastic top was blown away from the metal core, like the one on original poster's dad's rig? I've only seen cracks on these plastic top radiators big enough to should a large stream of coolant out (like peeing after 5 bottles of beer); but a top flying out? never!

As Doug pointed out, belts might not have been tighten properly before, or a failed bearing (like the water pump's one) that resulted in a blown radiator - NOT the other way around.
 
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No reason to blame the radiator, but it makes a handy and dandy story that sounds better than "I didn't notice that for a month or more I've been overheating the engine and it was low on coolant (thus the air space in the rad that allows for fluid boiling vs a properly pressurized radiator NOT allowing it). Either way, no fun and I'm sorry you guys are going through this - not meaning to make light of it.

DougM
 
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