Well, you found a pool of liquid underneath your car, and you’ve discovered it’s a radiator leak. It’s time to pull out your wallet and watch the money fly away.
If you aren’t interested in spending a ton of money on expensive labor costs due to the involved repair of getting to the radiator, you could try a radiator stop leak. Using this strategy is a quick and easy fix, and you can usually add it directly to your cooling system, and you’ll notice the repair within minutes. Radiator stop leak is made of different metals, ceramics, and fibers that help seal up holes.
Why do so many mechanics recommend against using stop leak formulas? You’ll have to hang around to find out. In this article, we’re helping you understand how to shop for a radiator stop leak, how to buy the best one, and we’ll even recommend some for you.
Keep These Factors in Mind
When most people think of fixing their car themselves, they think of this involved process that requires them to have advanced mechanical knowledge, but that isn’t always the case. With this job, it’s as simple as pouring the liquid into the right tank and letting it do the work.
The hard part is finding the best leak product to buy. There are some significant factors you want to understand when purchasing a radiator stop leak formula. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Are you mechanically savvy? – While pouring stop leak formula into a tank doesn’t require a lot of knowledge you want to make sure you get it in the right container. Streaming this into the wrong spot will hit your car with a devastating blow, so make sure you know what you’re doing or get the help of someone who does.
- Do you need to flush the system? – Many types of sealant want you to flush the cooling system before pouring the liquid in and others it doesn’t matter. Which one you choose depends on your level of expertise. If you know how to flush the system, those types of sealant work more effectively, but if you don’t, you’re better off going with a non-flush leak solution. Make sure you get the right one based on your expertise.
- How much does it cost? – While a radiator stop leak solution is much cheaper than having to pull the car apart, there is still a cost associated with this project. Make sure that you have a budget in mind and do your research, so you don’t buy a cheap leak product that doesn’t work as well.
- Does it work in your car? – Not every solution is compatible with every car. If you have an older vehicle, you want to check online or read the owners manual to ensure that the stop leak formula will not cause additional damage to your car.
- Is there actually a leak? – It’s funny to think about, but you might not even know where the leak is coming from. You want to make sure you get your radiator fluid right and that you know what type of liquid is leaking from your car. Many different things can leak, so do your research or call upon the knowledge of an expert to make the final decision.
- How large is the leak? – It’d be nice to think that you can fix anything by pouring a leak solution down a hole, but that’s not always the case. If the leak is massive and fast, a radiator stop leak most likely won’t be enough to tackle the job. At that point, you’ll want to seek professional guidance regarding what you should do next.
Different Types of Radiator Stop Leak
At this point, if you know you need a radiator stop leak the next thing you need to think about is what type of formula you plan on choosing. There are a couple different options, so make sure you get the right one that makes sense for you and your car.
- Liquid – You’ll find these most common and they come in many shapes and sizes. They are typically pre-mixed with everything you need so you can pour it right in without any additional work.
- Powder – These also come in different shapes and sizes, and all you need to do is pour it into the car’s radiator.
- Tabs – Many mechanics swear against these, but they are still popular for many applications. You dissolve them in the cars coolant system by dropping them right in, or you can dissolve them in warm water before pouring the mixture in.
How to Find the Best Radiator Stop Leak
Shopping around for the best stop leak formula is not always easy. There are so many products that it makes it difficult for the average person to choose only one product. That is why research is so critical because we’re talking about your car. You want to make sure you don’t cause any damage to your vehicle, thus making the right choice is essential.
The first thing you want to think about is how long you’ve had a leak. Radiator stop leak formulas work best when you get the hole before it gets severe. If you’ve left the leak alone for a few weeks, you might have to buy more leak formula or seek professional help. If you recently noticed it and you got to it quickly, one container of a standard formula should work fine.
Here are a few extra tips to help you choose the best radiator stop leak:
- Clogging – You want to prevent clogging at all costs, and the most common ones come around the heater core. Make sure that the product has a strong reputation for traveling through the engine and fixing leaks without compromising the operation of your engine.
- Chemicals – Different formulas have different compounds and ingredients, and they’ll all affect your engine differently. The best ingredients to find are liquid aluminum and extreme cool because they have a strong reputation, and they are generally safe.
Radiator sealant is useful and convenient for people looking to prolong the life of their vehicle without the need for expensive repairs. It’s important to understand that these are not permanent solutions and the leak can show signs of a long-term problem down the road. If you think your leak is severe, it’s always best to seek counsel from experts.
Top 6 Picks for the Best Radiator Stop Leak
Now that you understand how to choose a radiator stop leak here are some highly recommended examples to help make your choice easier.
When you see the name bar’s Leak on the bottle, you should grab it and walk away. These are the best products on the market and are well known for successfully plugging coolant leaks. This radiator fluid helps seal radiator leaks, freeze plug leaks, and head gasket leak.
It works by cooling the temperature using bar’s leaks liquid aluminum and Xtreme cool. These two act perfectly together by sealing the leak and conditioning the system. They not only fix your current issue but they also help prevent issues later down the road. The main problem with stop leak formulas is that they are only temporary, this one is said to be permanent.
Another great feature of this stop leak formula is that you don’t have to flush the liquid out of your system before using it. You can add it directly to your coolant system and seal the leak in 20 minutes or less. Many people even claim that it seals your leak within a few minutes.
- Doesn’t require flushing of the system
- Contains liquid aluminum and Xtreme cool
- Highly recommended
- Works fast
- Nearly a permanent solution
- Doesn’t work as well on large leaks
This stop leak formula acts as a multi-purpose tool for your entire radiator and cooling system. It’s not only a top of the line stop leak, but it helps bring your seals and gaskets back to life using the rejuvenating formula.
ATP does not require you to flush your system either, and it’s compatible with conventional and synthetic oils and power steering fluids. It’s strong enough to get the job done without having to worry about it harming other components of your vehicle.
If you pull over to the side of the road and notice you have a leak, it’s as simple as pouring the liquid into your car, and it works in as little as five hours.
- Dual acting formula
- Doesn’t require you to flush the system
- Works with conventional and synthetic oils
- Issues with it compromising gaskets and seals
- Doesn’t contain liquid aluminum
If you’re looking for a highly recommended leak repair formula that gets used by roadside assistance companies all over the world, this is your choice. It provides a quick and long-lasting fix to head gasket leaks, engine blocks, radiators, and water pump leaks. No matter what type of leak you have this formula will work for you.
Once you dump it into your system, it immediately starts working to find the leak and plug it up. It’s made using microfibers that work on contact to form a mesh seal over the leaks. Many people consider this a permanent solution, and even after many years they still talk about it working perfectly for them.
- Strong reputation
- Works quickly
- Works on all types of leaks
- Issues with clogging
If you’re not into the whole liquid idea and you want to try something a little simpler, you could go for this leak tablet from Bar’s Leak. These offer you great value for the money, and you can store them anywhere. They seal leaks and control electrolysis, lubrication, and they condition your cooling system.
For these to work, you have to add them to warm water and let them dissolve. Once you pour the liquid into your system, they work almost instantly within 15 minutes. There are situations where you might need to run it through a second time, but that doesn’t happen for everything.
This brand has over 70 years of experience fixing car leaks, so it always helps to go with a trusted company.
- Strong company reputation
- Tabs instead of liquid
- Great value
- Still requires you to mix with water
What if you’re dealing with a severe leak, but you don’t have the money for an expensive repair. What should you do in this situation? You could call up your local mechanic and hear the bad news, or you could buy this antifreeze stop leak. This one is intended for larger leaks, and it works quickly for a fraction of the cost of a repair.
Bars Leak has a strong reputation, and this leak repair does a great job at helping them continue that run. This is a one-step sealer that contains antifreeze compatible sodium silicate, so it doesn’t require you to drain your system before pouring it in.
The formula fixes leaks on contact, and it prevents future leaks by binding to your system and stepping in when necessary. If you’re on the fence about whether or not the leak is large enough to handle with a stop leak formula, we recommend giving this one a try.
- Strong leak stop formula
- Works on large leaks
- Great company reputation
- Prevents future leaks
- More expensive than the rest
Here’s a brand you’ve probably heard of before. This leak stop formula is patented, and it acts immediately on contact with leaks in your radiator, water pump, and heating core. This liquid also protects your car from corrosion and pitting too.
The main difference between this stop leak product and some of the competitors is that this not only stops the leaks, but it finds corrosion points in your system and areas that are starting to break down. When it finds these spots, it seeks them out and fills them in before leaks happen. This helps you to get rid of immediate leaks and also prevent them from happening in the future.
The formula contains an ideal mixture of natural and synthetic fibers that can seal a small leak and moderate leaks. You also don’t have to worry about this one clogging your system.
- Fixes corrosion on contact
- Works with many different types of leaks
- Doesn’t clog your system
- Some people say it only works temporarily
Comparing the Options
|Brand||Type||Fixes Large Leaks?||Requires System Drain?||Price|
|Bar’s Leaks Liquid Aluminum||Liquid||No||No||$|
|Bar’s Leaks Tabs||Tablets||No||Yes||$|
|Bar’s Leaks Liquid Copper||Liquid||Yes||No||$|
|Prestone Sealer Stop Leak||Liquid||No||No||$|
Let’s take a look at each stop leak formula side-by-side. If you had to choose only one and you wanted to go for an all-around stop leak product with a strong reputation, we would suggest selecting the Bars Leak Liquid Aluminum. This product has many positive reviews and a few bad things to say about it. It works well, and it’s been around for so long because of it. If you’re on the fence about what product to choose that is the way to go.
If you’re dealing with a sizeable leak and you’re not sure if you have to call in the big guns, we would go with the Bar’s Leak Liquid Copper because it’s more suitable for more substantial leaks. These two products also serve as a permanent solution for your leak so you shouldn’t have to come back to it in a few months and fill it again.
The Bar’s Leaks products are also affordable and cheaper than most of the competitor products, so you can’t go wrong. If that wasn’t enough to convince you, the last plus side we have with Bar’s Leaks is that you don’t have to flush your system to pour it in. This fact alone makes this product the best for emergency situations.
Keep a bottle in your car if you ever encounter another leak. If you’re preparing for the future, you can pour it in on the side of the road without having to worry. It doesn’t require any advanced mechanical knowledge.
When using a radiator stop leak in the right way it can efficiently stop leaks in your system without causing any harm. This is not permanent, however, and you’ll eventually need to add more radiator stop leak liquid.
Some people report that they have experienced a clogged radiator from using low quality stop leaks which definitely creates a risk of overheating. However, this will never happen with trustworthy and reputable brands.
Most popular brands advertise that their products last for life, however, in most cases that’s not true. Eventually, you’ll need to refill and most people report that they change their radiator stop leak after approximately 20,000 to 40,000 miles.
By this point, you should have no problem making a decision on a radiator stop leak for your car. Finding a pool of liquid underneath your car is never a good thing, but having products like these makes it much easier for car owners. Luckily, most of these products are nearly permanent, and most people won’t ever have to think about a radiator leak again.
As we said, go with the Bar’s Leaks line of products because of their strong reputation of success and a wide variety of products. They have something for everyone.