My car is a Chevrolet Lumina 2001. About 2 months ago I changed the radiator of my car because it was leaking, the guy that changed the radiator got the radiator in a junk yard place for cheap price.

Now, I found that it's leaking again and that it's coming from a crack. I decided then to buy a new radiator now online and get it fixed when it gets here.

The problem is that I was planning on going on a road trip for this coming long weekend, although I have noticed that the radiator takes time to get empty (about a day) I keep putting more coolant when I go to work which is about 50 miles from where I live so 100 miles every day so I don't have problems with overheating. I have noticed that it leaks more when it's hot (which makes sense since it has more pressure and tends to leak more than when its cold).

Anyway, the question is, is there any temporary fix that I use so I can be safe for that trip? The radiator is going to arrive next week so I was thinking if even if there's no other fix, what if I just keep filling the car with coolant every time I get gas? Thank you for your suggestions

  • Where is the crack and how big is it? Is it in one of the side tanks? Is one of the tubes coming loose from the sides? Is one of the tubes itself gaining a crack? Have you tried any type of stop leak? – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Nov 25 '15 at 1:07
  • Even Walmart sells a bunch of different radiator stop-leak products. That being said, the last time I had a radiator leak (in a Honda lawn tractor radiator) I pulled the radiator and took it to the local shop and the guy brazed it up for a few bucks - lots cheaper than paying Honda for a brand new radiator - and probably quicker :-) – Bob Jarvis - Reinstate Monica Nov 25 '15 at 13:25

If you can see and access the crack, a two-part epoxy or something like JB-Weld can be great for a temporary fix. This page shows the process on a metal radiator for a race car, but your fix would be similar.

Clean the site of the repair, and rough up the surface with fine sand paper, especially if working on plastic. Mix the two-part epoxy and generously apply to the crack. If the crack is on a vertical surface, you may have to build a "dam" out of tape or something to keep it from running off of the cracked area.

If you attempt this, plan on breaking down. It will probably get you to your destination, but you need a plan for the worst case. Carry several gallons of water/antifreeze. Pack a blanket if it's cold outside. Keep your phone charged, and know what road you're on at all times.

  • Thanks for your suggestion. I'm not sure if that would work because I don't think that the part that is cracked is aluminum I marked the side where the crack is: postimg.org/image/mui422q7p Do you think putty/epoxy would still work? – VaTo Nov 25 '15 at 5:58
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    Should still work. It doesn't have to be aluminum. That's why I mentioned the part about roughing up the surface if it's plastic. – JPhi1618 Nov 25 '15 at 6:04
  • Also wanted to mention that if you're going to use epoxy, do it ASAP! Some of the dry/curing times can be very long (6-12 hours). – JPhi1618 Nov 25 '15 at 14:47

Putty/epoxy works but here's a handy tip I picked up from my materials professor to ensure that the crack doesn't propagate:

Drill small holes at the ends of the crack to arrest its growth before using metal putty/epoxy to seal the existing crack.

My dad used to own a Maxima that developed a crack in the radiator's aluminum head. The mechanic he took it to used metal putty to paper over the crack, only for the crack to grow past the putty within a few days due to the high coolant pressure. I wish I'd known this trick at that time!

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    Great tip. I do something similar with tears in a bag of chips, but never thought about it for cracks! – JPhi1618 Nov 24 '15 at 20:27
  • Thanks for your suggestion. I'm not sure if that would work because I don't think that the part that is cracked is aluminum I marked the side where the crack is: postimg.org/image/mui422q7p Do you think putty/epoxy would still work? – VaTo Nov 25 '15 at 5:58
  • @SaulOrtega yes the drilling trick should still work. You would use an epoxy rather than metal putty since it's plastic. – Zaid Nov 25 '15 at 7:05

If it is one of the veins that is cracked, in an emergency it is sometimes possible to cut the vein and then fold both ends over a few times to seal them. A pair of long nose pliers is usually all you need to do this.


A large number of people recommend sodium silicate - sold as "liquid glass in the US I believe. This is also used as an egg preservative. An excellent user discussion of sodium silicate and other materials can be found here.

I'm in New Zealand. Here we have a material named "Soldrit Super Soda" which has been on the market for 40+ years (ask me how I know :-) ) and whichhas been known to perform miraculous cures. It's a grey powder with shiny inclusions - I understand that it may be a meltable metallic filled material which hardens when it leaks out through a crack or hole. I have seen it fix a hole that was about small finger size in a radiator. I've heard it said that it can clog radiator channels - and that seems believable - but many decades ago I used it on a nuber of occasions with excellent results and never any problems. It is also mentioned in the above discussion.

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