Replacing the Radiator

That's not all coolant beneath the car, but it's still not all good news.
Inside, we weren't down too much on coolant.
But pressurizing the system showed that, indeed, we had a leak.
Robbins had a new, all-metal radiator in stock. We were back on the road by 5:00 that day.
We celebrated by taking the car out that evening.

After replacing our 1975 Pontiac Safari Catalina’s alternator, we were feeling pretty good about things—smug, even. Then we noticed some coolant beneath the car. 
That can’t be from ours, right? A quick smell revealed that it was engine coolant. The car hadn’t been running hot, though, and the radiator looked full. Just to prove that all was okay, we hooked up a pressure tester and pumped up the system. And then that’s when coolant leaked all over the place.

Our initial plan was simple: remove the radiator and run it down to Robbins Service Centers, our local, full-service radiator shop so they could fix the leak. Then we decided it would simply be easier to have them both pull and fix the radiator.

An hour after dropping off the car, we got the call: It wasn’t the original radiator, it had already been fixed, and its inside were a mess. We decided to have them install a fresh, all-metal radiator. While the car was there, we also had them upgrade the standard fan clutch to a severe-duty one. We live in Florida and, as you can guess, it gets hot.

This one cost more than the alternator. While we have seen semi-universal fit, plastic and aluminum radiators for less than $200, our all-metal, four-row piece set us back about $400—but they had it in stock.

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View comments on the CMS forums
Jerry From LA
Jerry From LA Dork
8/24/13 10:21 a.m.

Sure it cost 400 bucks but you'll never need another one. If you decide to hot up the motor a little, you'll have some extra capacity.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
8/25/13 5:46 p.m.

That's kind of what we thought: This radiator should last quite a while. The plan is to drive this, not constantly chase little problems.

Karl La Follette
Karl La Follette UltraDork
9/2/13 12:20 p.m.

Did you change the water pump hose and thermo stat also ?

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