Do It Yourself Radiator Repair

by J. Taylor Ludwig

Do-it-yourself radiator repair requires a few special tools and some moderate skills, but if you're willing to give it a try, you could save yourself some time and money. The three most common things you must do to a radiator are repair a leak, repair a valve and bleed the radiator.


Before you even attempt to repair the radiator, make sure you have the following tools available: Teflon tape, bleed key, pliers, silicone sealant and an adjustable spanner. You may want to lay them out so they are readily at your disposable as you fix the radiator.

Fix a Leaking Radiator

To repair a radiator that is leaking, begin by shutting the lock-shield valve off on the side of your radiator. Grab a pair of pliers, and turn the valve spindle as tight as you can get it. If the radiator continues to leak, then take some Teflon tape and wrap it around the outside of the cap nut. Another option is to place a coating of silicone sealant around the outside of the cap nut.

Repair a Radiator Valve

To repair your radiator valve, begin by using your adjustable spanner to unscrew the valve. Take off the valve adapter, and clean the threads with some vinegar and water. Wrap Teflon tape around the threads on the new adapter, and attach the adapter on the end of the radiator. Bring the valve cap nut out over the pipe ending to fit the valve. Place the new valve on the radiator and use your pliers to tighten up the cap nuts that hold the valve to the water pipe and adapter. Remember to refill the radiator with a 50/50 coolant and water solution.

Bleed a Radiator

If you are going to bleed your radiator to clean it out, the best time to do it is in the fall so that it will be ready for the winter months. Begin by starting the engine and turning the heater as hot as it will go. Once it gets hot, turn off the engine. Use the bleed key to open up the valve on the radiator so the hot air can be released. When the water begins to flow forth, let it drain completely and then tighten the valve with the pliers. Remember to turn the heater back to normal and refill the radiator with a water-and-coolant mixture.

About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.

More Articles