radiator cleaning


Well-Known Member
curious if any bodies experimented with "dipping" aluminum radiators to clean the dust and contaminates from in the fins.

here's the issue, we race in the mud and dust, we can keep the mud out of the radiator since it's in the back, but the dust can't be stopped. it builds up on the fins, causing efficiency problems. no amount of washing can clean even the dust out of the fins. i'm hearing guys loosing 30-40 deg of engine temp just by changing radiators, even though the old one looks fine. this is great if your on an unlimited budget, and can change radiators every weekend, i'd like to get a season out of mine.

my current thought is to make a chemical bath and dip the rad. every week, after washing it. curious on what would clean the AL with out ruining it. my best though right now would be a radiator flush treatment type chemical.

any ideas on a chemical? or anybody have a process that's proven?
thanks for your help

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Funny you ask this, I just finished attempting to flush
the radiator on my moterhome. although its not an aluminum
radiator, IM having trouble dissolving some white crud (maybe
calcium deposits) I can see through hose fitting inside the radiator.

So far this weekend, i have cleaned it 2 times with Prestone 10 minute cleaner
I can still see the deposits

If anyone has a suggestion for chemical to help dissolve this stuff safely, I would
greatly appreciate it. I would hate to even think of removing the radiator, it is
pretty buried in there!

BTW its a 1982 454 chevy class A Fleeetwood



Well-Known Member
carquest makes some stuff that cleans the heck out of the inside them, works great. i do not know the exact name of it but it is a carquest brand and comes in a quart bottle thats white and round and has a skull and cross bones on it, no joke. it works good but keep it off skin.

life is too short to be small


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Don't know about the outside but I just happen to be cleaning my coffee pot and clothes iron with vinegar, works great and might get rid of the calcium inside of that motorhome radiator. I don't have any fancy recipe but about 1 part vinegar to 4 or 6 parts water seem to work. Curt

VORRA Class 7


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ive had palomar radiator "dip" aluminum radiators before ....they do good work and cheap too .
(sorry their in escondido CA.)

as far as "crud" ive got this rust colored foam developing in my radiator and overflow tank. anyone know what the cause of this might be ?


Well-Known Member
Theres only one problem with that 10 min h.d. radiator flush. Those same deposits in the radiator are also in the hoses and coolant passages in the motor. When I used it in my 87 Turbo 4runner it worked so well that it removed all the deposits in the coolant hoses. What that did was make almost every coolant hose leak at the fittings or blow a hole within a week and it has been a major pita! I have had just about every hose blow out, and some were VERY hard to replace or expensive formed hoses that had to be purchased from the stealer(dealer)! It could also cause a head gasket to devellop a leak and blow also.


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Castrol SuperClean will etch aluminum if allowed to stay wet on it too long. Don't let it dry on aluminum. That *might* get the deposits off. Try it straight on the dirt in the fins, but don't let it stay on for more 10 minutes or so. Might try agitating it in the fins with a cheap 1" paint brush or something with similar long, soft bristles. Don't let SuperClean stay on your skin very long.

For the calcium deposits I'd try using a bathroom cleaner made for removing hard water deposits.
You also might try mag wheel cleaner for non clear coated wheels. The stuff for clear coated wheels won't work. I've used Eagle brand in the past. (Note: This stuff contains Hydrofluoric Acid. Even though it's at a 'safe' concentration you DO NOT want this on your skin. The stuff is deadly at not very high concentrations and will make you ache at lower concentrations.)

Fill those radiators with distilled water from the market in the future. I've been doing this for about 10 years and it has caused a noticable decrease in radiator problems.


I used swerve around my halucinations, now I drive right thru them.


Active Member
Ride on down to your local caterpillar dealer and get some radiator cleaner there,its not cheap but works great.You might also want to change to a extended life coolant (the red stuff) .Green is alot more prone to have silica drop out as its referred to,with a extended life coolant you can add conditioner as the coolant "wears out" and prevent that pesky white crap from coming back.I have all the Cat part numbers if you are interested.

You dont know the looks i get with this truck on the east coast.


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Here is a weird one for ya.
Our 50 horse compressor developed a leak in one of the oil lines and it was a couple of weeks before we noticed. By the time we got it fixed, the fan had already blown oil thru the oil cooler/radiator and the aircooler/radiator. They are stacked against eachother and impossible to seperate. We tried a pressure washer, but the pressure needed to get that caked stuff off would fold the fins over, Not good!
We had a high temp parts washer that the water needed changing anyway so I put it in there.
It was about 160 degrees with a mix of orange citrus cleaner, that you can get at Smart and final or Cosco, and water. The radiators are aluminum. The washer just has a pump that ajetates (sp) the solution. Although it really messed up the water, the radiators came out clean as new. Maybe you could try something like that....


Well-Known Member
Heat helps, especially if there is any oil present. We steam clean radiators daily on heavy duty trucks and busses and it works very well. A powerful steam cleaner stops just short of bending the fins. As long as there is water inside the radiator, it will stop just short of melting the solder too. Most shops have gone to high pressure washers because of stricter rules and maintenance. They work good but not as good as a steam cleaner. If the steam cleaner won't dislodge the crud we use shop air discharged from from a 1/4 inch tube nozzle to push it back out the way it came in, then steam it.

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