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Vinegar in radiators. This is gonna be a read so bear with me..So I've been searching for alternatives to rad flushes. Rad e ator! Ray de ayter... OK, sorry i had to throw that in cause a buddy of mine is from PA. BTW, I have never corrected him on the proper pro nuncitation:dunno:

With that said, I have discovered many uses for vinegar, love pickled food but can't stand the stinch of it in general. However, I have used it along with baking soda to safely boil out any stubborn drain in residential applications. Better than draino in most applications.

I recently searched alternative remedies for nasty engine cooling systems and found that this is supposedly a tried and true method for some. Being white vinegar no soda.

I bought a early 90s Ford ranger that runs good, 2.3l. Sadly, the former owner poured it full of
Bars stop leak, rather than address the initial problem. Which im still unsure where the need. It has a new water pump so i can only imagine ...it can work in a pinch, but I try not to introduce pepper into such a system. It just ain't good for the heater core, heads, thermostat....ENGINE.

Upon ownership I decided to do the basics, one of which was to drain and flush. When I loosened the drain petcock nothing drained. I removed the lower hose and ran a flowing garden hose. Fitted it back and still no drain. That's concerning. Being a 22 year old Ford it could probably stand a new rad. But I'm trying to get to worst first.

I again drained the rad via lower hose and put about a quart of 5% white vinegar, topped off with water. Drove truck about to town and back. Rad begin to drain, the more I jiggled the drain plug the better.

I have refilled it with a mix of the same and 5 more miles. Gonna flush with straight water tomorrow while running and see..

No, it ain't copper or brass.. I'll flush it out in the morn!
 

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Your ranger probably has an aluminum radiator core with plastic side tanks which are crimped on.
"Bars Leaks" was great stuff. Used to come in a tiny brown and yellow can. Part number on the old stuff was #R-6. Sold thousands and thousands of cans of that stuff..
Plugs everything up. Coats the insides of the hoses/heater core/everything.

Best cooling system flush every made was the old "Prestone" Heavy-Duty Cooling System Flush in the cardboard can - had two different ingredients in it - top and bottom - the active ingredient in the flush was Oxalic Acid, but it ate up aluminum parts in cooling systems (thermostat housings/timing covers/water pumps/and then later radiators). You had to use the second ingredient - a neutralizer - to flush out all the Oxalic Acid from the cooling system, using one of their "Flushing Tees".

You can still get the flush kit from most parts stores. Some of them carry just the "Tee" by itself. Has a nozzle that fits into the neck of the radiator.
Buy a two-foot long piece of cheap vinyl hose that fits the snout of the nozzle so you can get the coolant away from the vehicle - anti-freeze and cooling system chemicals mess up automotive paint jobs.

Most of the flushing chemicals they sell over the counter now are fairly benign, and have limited effectiveness on really crusty cooling systems.
Not much you can do about that other than experiment on your own, as you've done (with vinegar). I've run Trisodium Phosphate through mine, although I don't really think it did much in the way of removing rust/scale/gunk.

But then, there's really no way to get everything out. I worked for a production automotive engine remanufacturer, and even after the blocks came out of the "Bake-O" oven and went through the washer, there were some that still had traces of rust in the water jackets.

Probably easier to just bite the bullet and replace the radiator and heater core!
 

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had the same problem with my work car. after 23 years on the road the rad finally gave out , I was told it could be repaired , when I checked into it the rad shop wanted more to repair then buying a new one...checked online got one for 90 bucks...you might even want to check into a salvage yard
 

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do they even repair radiators anymore?
old time - radiators were all brass, and they'd dip 'em in some nasty chemicals - "rod out the radiator", they called it. usually a one-day turnaround when we sent them out - I honestly don't know if they even do it anymore. chemicals involved were highly toxic.
new replacement radiators shipped from offshore are pretty cheap, in relative terms - new (brass) radiator for my '68 Pontiac was $140 in 1976.
new (aluminum, made Godknowswhere) radiator for my '94 Ranger was about the same price a year ago.

as a note:
from my observations over the years, and many conversations with John C., who was the lead man in the tear-down department at the engine rebuilding house I worked at, overheating is by far the single most common cause of complete engine failure - not lack of lubrication.
you can run a Detroit mill 3 quarts low on oil and only change it every 20,000 miles and get away with it, but if it gets hot, it's toast.
 

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more of my endless bloviating:

re: flushing cooling systems

when you've got the garden hose hooked up to your "Prestone Flush and Fill Kit" Tee-fitting, you're pumping cold water into the engine.
while doing so, you've probably got the radiator cap removed, the nozzle inserted into the radiator neck, and the water's being pumped out as fast as the garden hose is pumping it in.
which means: the thermostat will never open.
only way to get a free flow through the entire system is to remove the thermostat and run the heater wide open. means you not only have to purchase an additional water outlet gasket, but you have to hassle with changing the thermostat twice.
then of course there's the minor issue of most cooling system flushing compounds not performing as intended unless the engine reaches operating temperature.

my own full-blown, all-day-long, OCD method:
remove thermostat. re-install water outlet with new gasket. drain cooling system through radiator petcock. refill cooling system. start engine and allow to run long enough for water to run through system. add flush. top off radiator with water (you should have all the air bubbles out of the system by now). put a piece of cardboard in front of radiator which can be easily and quickly removed. (I cut a slot in it to fit down over the hood latch.) take it out and race it around the neighborhood. don't take it out on the freeway, because if that temp gauge starts to climb fast you want to be able to jump out and yank that cardboard out fast! get it up to a low-end operating temperature. go home. have a cup of coffee and let it cool off a bit. drain system. then run your garden hose to the flushing "Tee" until water spits out the top of the radiator neck. start engine and let 'er run a while until you've got clear water coming out the radiator neck.
drain system through radiator petcock.
got an air compressor? put a nozzle into that "Tee" (on LOW pressure!) and blow out the heater core and hoses. you will probably get a shower.
put it all back together with new thermostat and gasket, put your coolant in, purge the air out of the system. (on mine I can push the thermostat open a crack with a small screwdriver - but be careful doing this because you can get the thermostat wonky and it won't work correctly - LIGHT pressure and just enough to bleed the air out.)
top it off with water. start it and let it run until it warms up and burps a few times through the radiator cap.
put the radiator cap on and drive it.

> temperature sending units in automobiles have to be immersed in water to register temperature. if that little copper pellet on the bottom side of the sending unit is hanging in air, it's going to tell the gauge it's cold. big air bubble under the thermostat will cause you grief. be sure to get the air out of the system before reinstalling radiator cap and pressurizing the system. (ask me how I know this.)

> and don't let the guy at the parts store sell you a bunch of silicone gasket goop or Permatex for that water outlet gasket. get a small can of Edelbrock "Gaska-Cinch" and put a light coating on one side of the gasket (toward the water outlet), let it dry a couple minutes until tacky, stick it to the flange on the water outlet casting, and install. unless the water outlet casting is warped the standard OEM gasket should seal just dandy without a bunch of goop all over it. (in spite of all auto parts store counter people being trained to always suggest gasket sealer when selling a thermostat or thermostat gasket.)
(profit margin on the sealer is usually higher than on the thermostat or the gasket.)
 

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yeah they still can repair the aluminum rads but not worth the price to repair them. The guy at the local repair shop told me that, he also said it's generally cheaper to buy a new one.....there used to be a dozen repair shops around my area now there's just one. a sign of the times in our throw away world
 

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I would just replace, I just got a new radiator for a 2001 Dodge pickup for $125.00 and no core needed. (threw old one away)
 
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