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Thread: Spectra premium radiators not too good

  1. #1
    turbo addict
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    Spectra premium radiators not too good

    After just replacing my tranny in my 85 turbo New Yorker I realized my radiator was looking pretty tough. Looked all over trying to find a copper and brass core radiator like the original. After a few hopeful leads that turned into yet just more aluminum and plastic tank radiators, I ended up buying a very inexpensive radiator from Spectra Premium.
    Installed the radiator and even before starting vehicle, was leaking from lower and upper radiator hose, even though hose clamps were tight. Pulled the radiator back out to find sharp mold ridges at 180° marks around upper and lower hose inlet/outlet. Same thing on overflow tube. Ended up having to use very fine ignition files to make them round again. Then used 400 sandpaper to finish them off. The kicker of all this is the drivers tank which has the radiator outlet hose connection was made the wrong size! It was the same 1-1/4" as the top inlet hose. WTF! As a fix, they (Spectra) slid a rubber sleeve (think condom) over the 1-1/4" outlet to enlarge it to the required 1-1/2" outlet. That's just beautiful...Well, underneath this rubber sleeve was the same terrible mold ridges as the top inlet connection.
    Hope to get a year or two out of this radiator before it has to be replaced. Workmanship on this radiator was not good. I haven't had very good luck with plastic tank radiators in the past in cold climates like MN during the winter, they always seem to seep a bit when it gets really cold. Time will tell I guess.
    So the moral of the story is if your forced into buying one of these radiators, check those inlets and outlets for shoddy workmanship before you install it. On a scale from 1-10, I'd give it a solid 3.
    Todd
    Last edited by 4 l-bodies; 12-12-2019 at 09:22 PM.

  2. #2
    Rhymes with tortoise. Turbo Mopar Staff cordes's Avatar
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    Re: Spectra premium radiators not too good

    I wasn't impressed with the one for my minivan. It was around $70 shipped from Rock Auto, so I'll be happy with a year or two out of it.

  3. #3
    Slugmobile & MeanMini Caretaker Turbo Mopar Contributor wheming's Avatar
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    Re: Spectra premium radiators not too good

    It's sad that those cheap ones are practically the only thing out there unless you want to customize a slightly better aftermarket performance one from another application.
    Case in point, Brian installed one I bought which was close, but needed mods to install.
    He removed the upper tank (minivan radiator) and fabbed a new tank shorter and with the fill in the correct spot for the hood notch. He installed pins on the bottom so it could sit in the stock lower mount. He also had to change the inlet/outlet tubing sizes and add an elbow to the lower so I can just trim a stock lower hose when replacement is needed.

    I had got an outrageous quote from a custom racing radiator place a few years ago that when I say "outrageous" I think is a bit of understatement. They wanted $1200 (iirc) for a crossflow that would fit in the stock 89 minivan spot, replacing the downflow style. Dimensions something like 21"x18.5" or something. I nearly pooped myself.

    This one was bought on eBay, and then Brian's install mods for a tremendous savings. And the core looks good, so I am hoping it lasts several years! Works great too, no problem at all with the heat during dragweek or with my prep before going in the NC heat. Runs 176 on the highway with a 180 stat! I am so glad to have this now.

    BTW, the new radiator was listed for a 66 Mustang v8.

    Sent from my ONEPLUS A6000 using Tapatalk
    Wayne H.

    '91 Dodge Spirit ES 2.5L turbo 5spd
    '05 PT GT 2.4T HO autostick
    '89 Plymouth Acclaim 2.5L turbo auto, "Slugmobile" yes, THE Slugmobile!
    '89 Dodge Caravan SE 2.5L turbo auto, "Mean Mini" yes, Gus' Mean Mini! (Current best 11.7786@113.04 mph! - Jan 15th, 2017 Fayetteville Dragway, NC)
    MeanMini dragracing videos: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...URZLB1RxGYF6vw
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  4. #4
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    Re: Spectra premium radiators not too good

    Quote Originally Posted by cordes View Post
    I wasn't impressed with the one for my minivan. It was around $70 shipped from Rock Auto, so I'll be happy with a year or two out of it.
    Hey Brian, I hear yeah, had I paid a lot for this radiator, it would have been sent back as unacceptable. Just bought a couple Fel-Pro 9296 PT headgaskets from RA for our cars, one was the newer design, with the reinforcement at the waterjacket triangle near #1 , the other one was some prehistoric one that I would have trouble installing under a deck plate when it was getting alignbored (lol).
    I have bought some older brass/copper heater cores from Spectra Premium for L-bodies & P-bodies and the quality was actually pretty good. I have heard all the newer ones are aluminum now though.
    Todd

  5. #5
    Supporting Member II Turbo Mopar Contributor Dr. Johny Dodge's Avatar
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    Re: Spectra premium radiators not too good

    so ...,

    I've posted this thought before both here and on TD ...without a response

    personally I don't need any rads I have two charger ones I saved forever and a mint one in my car
    my extra TII rad is also still good ..

    however .. once upon a time I worked in the radiator industry.....

    a few rad shops ... the modine warehouse , and a local radiator core ...CORE.. manufacturer

    I did everything in that shop involved in manufacturing a radiator core from stacking it to packing it ...

    THE only issue that needs resolved is IF the header , end plates , where the tanks solder on can still be obtained (manufactured)

    it's just a simple brass stampings with the slots for the fins and the flange for the tank but if you can't have the headers you can't stack a core

    top and bottom plates could be made easily enough if you're not looking for a factory exact restoration part - it's just a C channel piece of stock

    that company is still here , semi locally as they moved since I was there but ..IF ..you guys want .. I could go ask...the people who make rads rather than those who sell rads ..
    there's something of a difference in walking in the right door and speaking directly to those who know the issue .. the part and what the xxxx you're talking about

    'cause IF they can still "do" the headers you should be VERY easily able to order a core in the needed width .. charger / daytona / either intercooled ..or not

    ..and I could throw in a charger & daytona TII rad for "samples" easily enough
    - I'd need a turboz rad to complete the set

  6. #6
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    Re: Spectra premium radiators not too good

    Hey Wayne,
    Your radiator looks great! Not even from the same planet as the one I bought for the NY'er. Sadly the NY'er is just a winter/parts runner car these days. Came out of CA many years ago, but the elements are starting to take its toll on the car. About 7-8 years ago, I traded M. Christofferson a 2 piece intake manifold for the car (lol). It was not running, but a few days later it was. I've had to do very little to that car until the past year or so. Still only has about 85k on it.
    Oh, I've had the same experiences with radiator shops around me. Several places wanted $300-400 to change out a side tank on a GLHS radiator. $600 and up to recore. I remember 20 years ago or so when radiator shops were everywhere & would pull side tanks off just to inspect and "rod out" if necessary. Now there is like 4 shops in a 90 mile radius from me. Was like $30 for them to R&R a side tank back in the day. Now they want $300-400.
    Todd

  7. #7
    Slugmobile & MeanMini Caretaker Turbo Mopar Contributor wheming's Avatar
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    Re: Spectra premium radiators not too good

    Thanks Todd!
    I am super happy with Brian's work on this.
    I almost bought a second one for him to do the exact mods to so I would have a spare ready. Still would have been less than the other!

    I may look for a similar radiator that is close if I get around to going full build on Slug or my Spirit ES. If I do the 2.4 swap in my ES, I will want some better cooling capacity for 2.4 HP levels.
    Cross flow is definitely better, but the van seems to be great with this change. Really looking forward to the upcoming year with this now in Mini!

    Sent from my ONEPLUS A6000 using Tapatalk
    Wayne H.

    '91 Dodge Spirit ES 2.5L turbo 5spd
    '05 PT GT 2.4T HO autostick
    '89 Plymouth Acclaim 2.5L turbo auto, "Slugmobile" yes, THE Slugmobile!
    '89 Dodge Caravan SE 2.5L turbo auto, "Mean Mini" yes, Gus' Mean Mini! (Current best 11.7786@113.04 mph! - Jan 15th, 2017 Fayetteville Dragway, NC)
    MeanMini dragracing videos: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...URZLB1RxGYF6vw
    and other cars, trucks and motorcycles
    https://www.youtube.com/user/SlugmobileMeanMini

  8. #8
    Supporting Member II Turbo Mopar Contributor 85lebaront2's Avatar
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    Re: Spectra premium radiators not too good

    It has now gotten to the point where virtually all the radiators for older vehicles that used copper-brass radiators are not made in the US if at all. Probably 15 years ago my daughter had a 1985 Lebaron wagon with the 2.6L engine, She needed a radiator and bought a redi-rad one. It fit, but the inlet and outlet nipples were stepped resulting in the larger diameter inlet hose from the thermostat housing not fitting. I ended up cutting the 2.2L size portion of the nipples off. Other than that is was a nice copper-brass unit.

    One of the problems with a radiator shop is the EPA regs, the copper-brass radiators were soldered with lead-tin alloy, and the work ares required ventilation systems were getting bad a few years ago, who knows how bad they are now. As for Spectra Premium, I had to replace a radiator in my truck this year, OEM was a plastic tanked aluminum one, I had replaced it in the late 90s with a Modine lifetime one, problem, Modine is gone and the radiator shop I bought it from closed after the owner died of a massive coronary just after his 65th birthday. The Spectra Premium replacement from Rock Auto is what I went with, I am sure it will need replacing some time again as the radiator on these trucks is somewhat marginal with the 460 as Ford never intended to use it after 1979 in pickups so virtually everything is somewhat shoehorned from 1983-1996/7 with a 460.
    "growing old is inevitable, growing up is optional"
    1986 Lebaron convertible to replace totalled 85
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  9. #9
    Supporting Member II Turbo Mopar Contributor ajakeski's Avatar
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    Re: Spectra premium radiators not too good

    In a few more years they’ll probably stop making radiators for these cars all together. I can’t imagine any manufacturer sell enough to make it worth their while to improve the designs.

  10. #10
    Supporting Member II Turbo Mopar Contributor
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    Re: Spectra premium radiators not too good

    Todd, I noticed the same issue with the spectra premium I install three months ago. I need to pressure test the system to 20psi to find all the issue.
    A local shop will recore my copper/brass Rad for $230, maybe I should do that before they go by-by
    Regards,
    Miles

    DD '87 Sundance T1, 12PSI, SLH with rear disks
    '87 CSX #432

  11. #11
    turbo addict
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    Re: Spectra premium radiators not too good

    Quote Originally Posted by chromguy View Post
    Todd, I noticed the same issue with the spectra premium I install three months ago. I need to pressure test the system to 20psi to find all the issue.
    A local shop will recore my copper/brass Rad for $230, maybe I should do that before they go by-by
    Miles, I would jump all over that if I were you. $230 is 1/3rd of what I was quoted. I have 2 or 3 NOS large car intercooler/radiators tucked away for when that day comes when we can't get anything like Andy is stating. Sold one to a local guy a couple years ago, because I had plenty.
    Todd

  12. #12
    Supporting Member II Turbo Mopar Contributor 85lebaront2's Avatar
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    Re: Spectra premium radiators not too good

    Quote Originally Posted by 4 l-bodies View Post
    Miles, I would jump all over that if I were you. $230 is 1/3rd of what I was quoted. I have 2 or 3 NOS large car intercooler/radiators tucked away for when that day comes when we can't get anything like Andy is stating. Sold one to a local guy a couple years ago, because I had plenty.
    Todd
    That is why I decided to keep my spare T2 set.
    "growing old is inevitable, growing up is optional"
    1986 Lebaron convertible to replace totalled 85
    1986 Ford F350 Crew Cab DRW
    1995 Lincoln Continental (project car)
    2011 Ford Flex Limited (wife's)

  13. #13
    turbo addict Chris W's Avatar
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    Re: Spectra premium radiators not too good

    If you want us to ramp up again and make these we need a commitment of 40 radiators. You need to get on the list.

    http://www.turbo-mopar.com/forums/sh...98#post1149498
    Chris Wright www.TurbosUnleashed.com Chris@TurbosUnleashed.com 602-76-BOOST Tech/Sales#: 7 days a week 9AM-7PM MST Proudly Serving the Turbo-Mopar Community since 1997 TU is a performance, not marketing company. We provide accurate performance data on all our performance products. Fabricating data to make us appear better is just not our style. Do the research before you buy. ROCK BOTTOM PRICES WITHOUT THE HIDDEN HANDLING FEES.... -----HOME OF THE 9 SECOND FWD T-M CLUTCH----- CARS FOR SALE 1986 Omni GLHS #299 61k miles Many New Parts including Fresh Engine Build with Wisecos, New Turbo, Clutch, Performance Oil Pan, etc. - $14,000 http://www.turbo-mopar.com/forums/garage.php?do=user_garage_view&id=12

  14. #14
    Supporting Member II Turbo Mopar Contributor Dr. Johny Dodge's Avatar
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    Re: Spectra premium radiators not too good

    a poll thread asking if a TI with charger or daytona width rad option is of interest might do more than just fill that list ...

    I'd click on the TI charger rad option so fast I'd probably smoke the PC mouse...or hurt my finger ..seriously

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