A radiator helps to keep the engine of your car cool. It takes the heated coolant that has just passed through your automobile's engine and runs it through fins. These fins help to take the heat and push it outside of your car. The cooled-off coolant then passes through the engine again, completing a cycle that is designed to keep as much heat as possible off your engine so it does not overheat.

If your radiator is cracked or broken, you may be looking to purchase one. Buying a used radiator can be a great way to save some money, but only if you know what to look for. Here are a few things you’ll want to look for when you are shopping for a used radiator.

Look for Signs of Corrosion or Stripped Paint

Anytime you are considering buying a used radiator, you want to be on the lookout for any signs of corrosion or stripped paint. Leaking coolant can cause paint to strip if it sits on the radiator for a week or longer, and can also corrode metal parts. If you see corrosion or stripped paint on a radiator, the part has leaked in the past. Do not buy it!

If the radiator does not have any stripped paint and is not corroded, this is a good sign that the part has never leaked coolant, and it might be in decent shape.

Carefully Inspect the Cooling Cores

Another thing to look for when you are buying a used radiator is the condition of the cooling cores, also known as the cooling fins. The fins should all be straight and evenly spaced. They should not be bent, broken, or dented. They can become bent, broken, or dented due to an automobile accident or age. The fins help to pull heat outside, so having them in great shape is important.

Examine the Interior of the Radiator

Take a look at the inside of the radiator through the openings where the inlet and outlet pipes attach to it. You’ll want to determine whether the interior is relatively clean or has a considerable amount of residue buildup. The cleaner the interior of the part, the better it was maintained while it was inside the previous owner’s vehicle.

If you can see a brownish sludge or residue along the walls of the part, that typically means the previous owner of the radiator did not perform regular coolant changes. And without coolant changes on a regular schedule, the inside of the part may have developed some degree of corrosion, which you definitely don’t want.

Inspect the Inlet and Outlet Hoses

Many radiators have inlet and outlet pipes that are fashioned from plastic or some type of plastic-composite material, which makes them fairly prone to deterioration. These pipes must be fully intact because coolant travels through them while your vehicle is operating. If there are any cracks or other forms of wear-and-tear on these tubes, you’ll end up with a coolant leak if you install them in your vehicle.

Thoroughly examine both hoses to see if there’s any wear-and-tear present. Look for crumbling, cracks, or damage to the clamps that attach the pipes to the radiator. If you notice signs of damage but the radiator itself is still in great condition, it’s likely safe to move forward with the purchase.

You’ll have to pick up new radiator hoses at your local auto parts store, but you can typically find them for less than $20. Even with that additional purchase, buying a used radiator will still save you several hundred dollars over the cost of buying new. 

A Decent Warranty From the Seller

The last thing that you should look for when you are considering buying a used radiator is a decent warranty from the seller. A radiator is an automobile part that you cannot simply inspect to tell whether it works or not.

You must put fluid inside the radiator to ensure it is leak-free, and it needs to be hooked up to your engine and water pump to ensure it operates correctly. Having a decent warranty from the seller gives you the opportunity to test the part out and ensure it is functional.

After you find a quality discount radiator, taking care of it properly will help ensure it lasts as long as possible. Check out 5 Maintenance Tips for Your Used Radiator to learn how to do that.

Think you might need any other parts aside from a radiator? For more helpful information on buying used vehicle parts, you’ll definitely want to check out Tips for Finding the Best Parts at a Salvage Yard.  

Visit Ace Auto Parts for Quality Used Car Parts

Here at Ace Auto Parts, located in St. Paul, Minnesota, we offer a wide selection of used automobile parts, including used radiators. All of our parts come with a warranty of at least 90 days, so you can feel confident that you are getting a quality part.

If you are looking for a specific part, conduct a part search to see our current inventory of used automobile parts. If you need any assistance, please give us a call at 651-717-4299 or reach out to our team, and we’ll be in touch!