Is your vehicle’s radiator having problems? Radiator repairs may be able to fix certain minor issues, but like all vehicle parts, this cooling system component has a finite lifespan. Generally, a well-maintained radiator will last upwards of 10 years, so if yours is older than that, it may be time to think about finding a replacement.

If you’re planning to find a used radiator at a salvage yard to save some cash, that’s a great idea. But before you begin your search, you should know how to determine whether a part is worth the money. Check out our top tips below for finding a high-quality used radiator that’ll keep your engine cool.

Visually Inspect the Cooling Cores

A radiator’s cooling cores, also known as cooling fins, look a lot like the fins on an air conditioner. You should have no trouble locating them since they comprise the largest percentage of the part. Inspect the fins carefully to make sure none of them are bent or touching one another. They should be evenly spaced, smooth, and clean.

If you notice any denting, bending, or breakage, that may indicate the radiator was involved in a collision or that it’s simply past its prime. Regardless of the extent of the damage, don’t purchase a radiator that has damaged cooling cores. Since these cores help disperse heat from the engine, they must be in excellent shape for the part to work properly.

Keep an Eye Out for Signs of Corrosion

One glaring red flag you’ll want to keep a lookout for is corrosion or stripped paint. When a radiator has a leak for longer than about a week, the leaking coolant can begin to deteriorate the paint. It can also damage the metal components of the radiator and leave behind rust-colored residue. In severe cases, leaking coolant can even eat away at the metal.

If you notice any degree of corrosion or missing paint, do not purchase the radiator. It’s very likely the part was leaking coolant for a prolonged period, and if you install it in your vehicle, your engine will overheat.

Ask About the Seller’s Parts Warranty

Although you can visually inspect a used radiator, you can’t determine whether or not it’ll work properly with a visual inspection alone. That’s why inquiring about the seller’s used parts warranty is so important.

A warranty gives you a chance to install the part, put coolant in the radiator, and determine if it’s fully functional. If something’s wrong with the part immediately after installation, you should be able to return it. Generally speaking, it’s best not to buy a part from a salvage yard that doesn’t offer warranties unless you’re fine with risking your hard-earned cash.

Look for a Radiator from a Newer Salvage Vehicle

Since radiators have a finite lifespan, it’s typically in your best interest to look for one that came out of a newer salvage vehicle. While you may be able to find an older vehicle that wasn’t driven often (and therefore still has a functional radiator), the newer the part is, the better.

Get Quality Used Car Parts at Ace Auto Parts in St. Paul

Is your vehicle’s radiator due for replacement? Stop by Ace Auto Parts in St. Paul to find a quality used radiator for less. Since 1929, we’ve proudly served vehicle owners throughout the Twin Cities metro and now, our parts search tool makes finding discount auto parts easier than ever. We’re also connected to a vast, nationwide network of salvage yards, so if we don’t have what you’re looking for, we’ll do our best to locate what you need and get it to our location.

Ready to get started? Stop by our St. Paul salvage yard, give us a call today at 651-717-4299, or contact us online to learn more.