The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 05-07-2009, 11:52 PM
Magiver Magiver is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Mechanics, thoughts on radiator stop leak?

I'm fully prepared to replace my heater core but the leak is so small as to be unnoticeable. I'm talking about maybe a drop a week. It's been like that for a year. There is no visual loss of radiator fluid and I rarely smell it.

Is radiator stop leak bad for the car? I've always thought of it as evil but I'm on a money diet and would like to put off the repair for awhile.
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 05-08-2009, 12:32 AM
Rick Rick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Posts: 15,697
The leak will get worse.
Maybe tomorrow, maybe next month, but it will get worse.
Stop leak is a stop gap measure. Your call as to when to bite the bullet.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 05-08-2009, 12:37 AM
Leaffan Leaffan is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
I had a leak in my radiator a few years back and used the stop leak stuff. It worked fine, but eventually the radiator needed replacing. In the mean time the stop leak stuff clogged up my heater core. I needed to get the core flushed out a few times and to this day the heat output in my car has suffered.

The stop leak stuff will work on small leaks and do what it's advertised to do. However it may cause other unintended problems and therefore I do not recommend it. It should be viewed as a stop-gap measure and not a permanent solution.

ETA: What Rick said.

Last edited by Leaffan; 05-08-2009 at 12:39 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 05-08-2009, 01:12 AM
Magiver Magiver is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
That is what I was worried about, clogging up passages making the radiator(s) less efficient. Dang. At least it's easy to get to.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 05-08-2009, 08:31 AM
Gary T Gary T is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: KCMO
Posts: 9,538
Stop-leak products as a group raise concerns about clogging passages in heater cores and radiators. Said clogging has been known to occur (ask at any radiator shop for horror stories). Nevertheless, there is one brand I have used for decades without any clogging issues that I know of, and that is Bar's Leaks. They have several products; I am referring to the original Bar's Leaks Radiator Stop Leak. It has been used as a factory-applied product by some vehicle manufacturers. I have no qualms about using it in my cars or in my customers' cars.

As for actually stopping the leak, it often works, but not always. I have seen it stop a "pissing a stream" leak from a water pump; six months later the leak recurred and the pump had to be replaced. It worked on a leaking radiator in one of my cars; two years later the leakage recurred and the radiator had to be replaced. Its value is in buying time.

I can offer no guarantees that it will stop the leak or that it won't clog the heater core, but it has performed well enough for me that I have confidence in it. I do not have that same confidence in most other brands or types of stop-leak products.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 05-08-2009, 02:16 PM
Magiver Magiver is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary T View Post
Stop-leak products as a group raise concerns about clogging passages in heater cores and radiators. Said clogging has been known to occur (ask at any radiator shop for horror stories). Nevertheless, there is one brand I have used for decades without any clogging issues that I know of, and that is Bar's Leaks. They have several products; I am referring to the original Bar's Leaks Radiator Stop Leak. It has been used as a factory-applied product by some vehicle manufacturers. I have no qualms about using it in my cars or in my customers' cars..
This is what a mechanic told my brother in law. He had problems with a GM 3.8L. What factory applications use this? I'm curious.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 05-08-2009, 02:30 PM
Gary T Gary T is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: KCMO
Posts: 9,538
Quote:
Originally Posted by Magiver View Post
This is what a mechanic told my brother in law. He had problems with a GM 3.8L. What factory applications use this? I'm curious.
I don't know specifically. Here's the source, but all it says is "Now Bar's Leaks is factory installed in 3 out of 4 new cars made in USA by such as General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler..."
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 05-08-2009, 03:07 PM
AskNott AskNott is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Anderson, IN,USA
Posts: 14,061
Here's one thing that's sure. If you're looking over a used car for sale, and you find a can of Bar's Leaks in the glove compartment, walk away.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 05-08-2009, 03:39 PM
zwede zwede is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Bar's leak was factory mandated on the Cadillac HT4100 engine found in various Cadillac's back in the 80's.

Reason was the HT4100 was an early aluminum block engine and the casting was so porous that it would leak coolant into the combustion chambers unless you pured some sealant in the coolant.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 05-08-2009, 06:00 PM
snailboy snailboy is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
If you don't need the heater for a while, you can disconnect the hoses leading to it and connect them together using a coupling. I'd never use any stop-leak substance in any car I planned to keep a while.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 11-26-2013, 12:59 AM
sendmestufff sendmestufff is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
How long for stop leak to work radiator

3 months. I'll confirm or negate this finding over time, but added it 3 months ago, the leak got worse and worse and now it's gone
one thing of stop leak is all I used.
I was wondering though if this sealant stuff I found for $5 that withstands temperatures of over 500 deg F and neg 100 deg F would work, it even mentioned on the package, for radiators. I'll update this and let y'all know what I find, but please comment.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 11-26-2013, 01:10 AM
bluezooky bluezooky is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary T View Post
I don't know specifically. Here's the source, but all it says is "Now Bar's Leaks is factory installed in 3 out of 4 new cars made in USA by such as General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler..."
It's specified by GMH for my vehicle but only a couple of pellets, not the whole can, I use a tiny bit of Bar's when changing the fluid.

Last edited by bluezooky; 11-26-2013 at 01:10 AM..
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:06 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.