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The following 16 common radiator problems should help you understand the different types of radiator failures, and what caused them: 
Tube-to-Header Leaks - Failure of the radiator solder joint on this radiator's header and tubes, results in coolant loss.
Steam Erosion - Steam can break down the plastic tank which will produce thinning and ultimately holes in the plastic tank. Frequently, white deposits
Loose Side Piece - Can lead to flexing of the core and radiator-tube failure.
Leaky Tank-to-Header Seam - Failure of the solder joint results in coolant loss.
Leaky Oil Cooler - Coolant shows traces of oil. Transmission or engine damage can result from the mixing of coolant with transmission fluid or engine
Internal Deposits - Rust and leak inhibitors can form solids that collect in the radiator cooling system and restrict flow.
Fin Deterioration - A chemical deterioration of the radiator fins most often caused by road salt or sea water.
Fin Bond Failure - A loss of solder bond between fins and tubes. Fins are loose in core causing loss of heat transfer and reducing radiator strength.
Fan Damage - A minor collision or a failed water pump can result in radiator damage.
Electrolysis - (External) Stray electrical current can cause an electrochemical reaction that will produce voids in radiator tubes.
Electrolysis - (Internal) Stray electrical current can cause excessive corrosion of metal components.
Cracked Plastic Tanks - High stress in the radiator can cause premature plastic-tank failure.
Blown Tank-to-Header Seam - An indication that the radiator has been subjected to extreme pressures resulting from exhaust leaking into the cooling system.
Leaky Inlet/Outlet Fitting - Leaks in the radiator inlet/outlet area can be caused by fatigue or solder-joint corrosion.

This common radiator failure chart is courtesy of Modine Radiator, and Radiator Info




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