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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all, I have a question on my newly acquired 86 Spider Quadrifoglio. The day after I bought it, the radiator developed a leak, which appears to be at the upper seam. I called the mechanic who had serviced the car for the prior owner, he told me this is a relatively common issue, and they can repair the radiator. I have an appointment to bring the car in on Tuesday.

While I was browsing the Vick Auto website for a part for my Fiat, I checked out their Alfa section and saw a brand new radiator for my Alfa for $199, which sounded like a pretty good price to me. Assuming it is possible to repair my existing radiator, am I likely to have future issues with it? I believe it is the original radiator, which is 29 years old now and has 85k miles. Would I be better off to just get the new radiator? Does anyone here have any experience with or knowledge of this $199 radiator from Vick?

Thanks in advance for any input or advice!
 

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Your old radiator may have build up in it and lower performance. One of the members tried one of Vic's and thought it was good. It would most likely have better performance than the one you have now at 29 years old.

Living in Dallas you need all the cooling performance you can get.
 

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Before you comitt to having the radiator repaired, get some prices. There are 2 ways to go about a radiator repair.

1. just fix the leak - least expensive
2. have the radiator re-cored (they only reuse the top and bottom tanks and side
supports, and completely replace the center section - where all the cooling tubes
and vains are - most expensive

3. and of course, replace with a completely new radiator

Get all the prices and then make your decision. I would guess that when you have all the facts at hand, you will spring for the brand new radiator. The labor to remove and replace is the same in either case, so $200 for a brand new radiator sounds like a pretty good deal.

Notice how easy it is for me to spend YOUR money!
 

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Are the stock Alfa Spider radiators all aluminum?
Not in our '84 Spider. I took it to 'Ye Olde Fashioned Radiator Shoppe' for service. They said it is a very sturdy unit and well worth repairing.
 

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If you have not addressed your rad issue yet, please read my latest posting under Caveat Emptor - Cheap Radiators. Herb
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the info, Herb. Sorry to hear about your problem, but appreciate you sharing your experience. After discussing with the mechanic who worked on my car for the prior owner, we decided to have the original radiator re-cored. Sounds like I ended up making the right decision on this.
 

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I had one repaired about a year ago for a leak. It ran right around 100. I took it to a shop that just did radiators - mostly commercial verhicles but were more than happy to sequence me in and did a good job cleaning, fixing, pressure testing, etc. Definitely suggest pursuing that option first.
 

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DIY Repair Is Possible.

My '78 had a split seam at the top. It went all the way across the front seam, and it looked like someone had overtightened the cap, leaving no room for the coolant to expand into the overflow tank.

I ended up repairing it myself while it was still on the car. I drained it, then cleaned the seam very well with a wire brush, then heated with a large propane torch to sweat out anything left in the crack, then wire brush/heat/wire brush/heat until I couldn't get anything else out of the crack. At that point, I used an acid flux in the "trough" that goes around the seam, heated the seam, and sweated lead-based solder into the seam until I had a solid layer of solder filling the bottom of the "trough" that surrounds the seam. While it was still hot, I filled the remainder of the "trough" with JB Weld. At that temperature, the JB Weld flows like maple syrup, and forms a nice smooth surface.

I'm happy to say, it doesn't leak at all now (knock wood) and after respraying with a paint that matches the rest of the upper tank, it looks very good.
 

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If you're interested in an urban adventure, start looking around for an old-school radiator fixin' shop. These are not chain stores, not in nice neighborhoods, and not really frequented by the usual retail kind of customers. They're ugly, dingy, places that look like something out of a horror movie set. You'll usually find them in side streets, or in old industrial areas. There you'll find the guys that fix the hot-rodders, old car repair shops cars. The one I use here has been in the same place since just after WWII and owned by the same family. You'll have to take the radiator out yourself and bring it to them. They repaired my Super's radiator ("of course we fix old Alfa radiators") for about $65 a couple of years ago. There should be several places like that in the DFW area. You'll just have to look for them.
 

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Hey Chris,

I just saw you lived in Dallas. There is a Large radiator core manufacturer in Dallas. Long Story short...When I lived in South Texas my mechanic ordered a 4 row 10 fins / inch core from a place in Dallas. Radiator core came in 3/4 of an in thicker. LOts more cooling. Don't be afraid to go thicker. Your radiator man will need to split the tank corners and weld to make the new fit.
 
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