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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi,

I'm driving a 2000 Subaru Forester Automatic in Kenya. I have no access to/knowledge of a reliable independent mechanic here, and would really value your expertise to help me judge this situation.

I had a leaking radiator a while back, and had it repaired at an independent (but allegedly reputable, city-center) garage. Now these guys replaced the original plastic top-part of the radiator (tank), where the leak was, with a metal/brass one. This seems to work fine, there is no overheating shown on my controls anymore. The metal spare part looks like it fits well on the rest of the radiator.

Yesterday I brought my car to the official Subaru garage in Nairobi for an unrelated check-up/enginge diagnostic, and they came back to me and claimed that it is dangerous to use a metal spare part on the original aluminium bottom part of the radiator, and that this might cause untold problems in the future (due to heat issues). One possible reason given by someone I asked is that it "is kind of a bad idea to use a copper or brass radiator as the indifferent materials can cause a chemical reaction in the cooling system resulting in electrolysis." They quoted me a price of a little under USD 1,000 to replace the radiator completely.

My three questions are:

1. Does the explanation I was given ("never use non-standard metal tank on aluminium core, this requires complete replacement") sound at all reasonable? How do you judge this?

2. Is a price of USD1,000 even anywhere close to reasonable for a radiator replacement on a 2000 Subaru Forester Automatic?

3. What is the worst that could happen if I stick with the metal/brass-part - wouldn't I be warned by my controls showing overheating if any problem arose, and could take action if and when that happens?

Thanks a lot,
JM
 

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There is a risk of galvanic corrosion between the aluminium and the brass. When radiator cores changed from copper to aluminium they stopped using brass tanks. Brass and copper are electrically similar so corrosion isn't a problem. But brass and aluminium corrode.

Whether it's worth US$1000 to fix it... I see online stores in Europe selling a pattern replacement for your rad. for half that (dollar equivalent). I guess you have to factor in shipping, import duty(?), labour... still $1000 seems excessive.

Are you sure the original garage actually repaired your rad, as opposed to sticking in a used copper/brass one?

-- Steve
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you very much, this is really helpful.

This whole galvanic corrosion business is very disconcerting, I've already driven the car for about a month with the copper-tank/aluminium core mix. I can only hope there was no substantial damage to the engine block yet.

Given your advice, I will do the following:

1. Not do the repair at the garage, drive the car home and leave it there.
2. Buy an aftermarket radiator and put it in myself.

Getting a new aftermarket radiator might be tricky in Kenya, but I will be in the States in 4 weeks and pick one up. I researched on the internet and two suitable aftermarket radiators seem to be the #A2402 from Koyorad (around $300), or the CSF2803 (under $200).

Based on what you said, I assume that I should not drive the car any further in the next 4 weeks until I do the repair.

Thanks again and best wishes,
Max
 
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