We are often asked about radiator repairs repairing a leaking radiator and if that is a worthwhile proposition.
Firstly, yes you can fix a leaking radiator. But it may not be a practical or sound economic decision. This is not something you can do at home and requires the services of a professionally trained technician with specialist tools required to remove a radiator tank and replace it.
How much does it cost to repair a radiator you might ask? That will depend on what is wrong with your radiator and what it is made of. As a rough guide to remove a plastic tank and replace the seal on an aluminum core radiator, you will be looking at the best part of two to three hours labor plus parts, if you can find someone willing to do it. That would include removing and replacing the radiator with no long-term guarantee of how long the repair will last. This could cost between $200-300 depending on the vehicle.
Older cars and some trucks still have radiators made from a Copper core and Brass tanks. This type of radiator can be removed from the car and often successfully repaired by a radiator specialist. They will be able to remove the tanks by carefully heating the solder where the tank joins the header plate. Once removed they can repair a hole, replace a tank, clean out a blocked core or replace the core. This is very specialised work and takes years of training, there are few apprentices taking up the trade so you may find it difficult to get this work done or find many shops still around.
There are some emergency repairs / fixes available for plastic tank radiators. These are generally a type of epoxy resin or plastic filler. They are not a permanent solution but an emergency repair. I would not recommend this as a solution to a cracked tank or leaking seal.
Aluminum radiators can not be repaired like the old Copper core. They are a much thinner and lighter grade material and don’t take well to welding or soldering up a hole. There are some products available from Auto stores you put inside your radiator. Radiator Stop Leak. These rarely work and often block the radiator tubes causing overheating and other issues. Steer clear would be the best advice I can give.
In summary if you have an aluminum radiator then best option is to buy a new one and replace the radiator. If you have an older vehicle with a brass copper radiator then repair is a viable option, but do your research and find a good repairer.