Our first question was: “I have a bottle of Bar’s Liquid Aluminum stop leak. Will the ‘Liquid Aluminum’ stop leak that I have work on my radiator if it is made of brass and/or copper?” Naturally, I sought the specialized team of radiator repair experts at J-Mac Radiator in beautiful Salt Lake City, Utah, for their advice on this topic.
After going in, I sat down with Mr. Mark McKenna, manager of J-Mac Radiator. We started talking about using ‘Liquid Aluminum’ and he strongly recommended just coming in and having a professional radiator technician examine your radiator.
“I would only under the most dire of circumstances encourage its [Liquid Aluminum] use,” he said.
When I asked why, he explained to me that it and most other “stop leak” products work in theory by circulating through the cooling system via the coolant. As the coolant escapes through the leak some of the product will be left behind thus clogging the leak. Sounded like a good theory to me. Then Mark explained that there were a few flaws with the theory.
1. “Stop Leak” products rarely work whether they are designed for a copper, brass, or plastic aluminum radiator.
2. “Stop Leak” products are non-selective. That means they flow through the ENTIRE system, plugging up passages into your heater cove and the radiator tubes. This can make your radiator problem worse by causing your car to overheat.
Mark said if you choose to use a “stop leak” product, to make sure it is only as a SHORT TERM SOLUTION. Again he cautioned that if your radiator has a leak, please take it in and get it fixed by a radiator repair shop.
Here’s an example, if you were to use the “Liquid Aluminum” and it stops your leak, but it also severely restricted your Heater Core. Now your Heater Core will no longer produce any heat and that means you’ll have to take your car in for it to be removed, repaired and possibly replaced. This would range in price from a few hundred to $1,500.
Another example…so you still used that “Liquid Aluminum” and it stopped your leak. Well, it also clogged up your whole radiator, which resulted in the overheating of your engine. Do you know how much a new engine costs? On the conservative side, it would cost a few thousand dollars.
So, I ask you, is using the “Liquid Aluminum” or other “stop leak” product worth the risk? Are you willing to put your car’s Heater Core and engine on the line for a quick fix? I submit (and Mark agrees with me) that it simply isn’t worth the risk.
“You are money ahead by having the leak diagnosed by a professional and then having it repaired,” he said.
Thanks to our friends at J-Mac Radiator for helping us out with this question today. I really hope you found it as interesting as I did and if you were thinking of using a “stop leak” product in your radiator, I hope you’ll think twice before you do. Stop by J-Mac Radiator for any of your car care needs, located at 3520 South State Street and online at www.jmacradiators.com.