Reader Question: I have a 2000 Dodge Ram Van 2500. My friend recommended a mobile mechanic to come out and check some things over, before we go on a long trip. The guy told me on top of other seemingly valid things that I need to replace my radiator.
There are no cracks or leaks and the van does not overheat. He stuck his finger in the radiator and got some white residue on it. His explanation was that I had calcium build-up and I needed to replace the whole thing.
Another friend told me that if the antifreeze does not look brown and sludgy there is no reason to replace it. He said I should just go get it flushed and refilled. What do you think?
I think I would get another opinion from a mechanic before I took this out of town trip. From what you tell me, you probably do not have a serious issue with the radiator and flushing and refilling with coolant might be all you really need.
If you have not been experiencing an overheating problem and the coolant that is currently in the radiator is not a dark rusty color you are probably okay with just doing a flush.
Although he is correct is thinking that a large amount of calcium deposits with in the radiator can pose a serious restriction in the cooling system and cause overheating and possibly internal engine damage.
If you can still see a fair amount of this calcium build up after the flush, you might want to consider a new radiator just as a precautionary measure against future overheating and engine damage possibilities.
The thing you need to remember is the amount of calcium deposits you can physically see at the top of the radiator there is usually twice the amount or more of that deposit at the bottom of the radiator where the dirt and debris settle and accumulate.