Though it might not be the worst damage your 4WD vehicle may suffer out on the trail, even a tiny hole in your radiator is enough to bring your mighty 4×4 to a complete stop.
With no coolant flowing through the engine to keep it cool, you risk permanently engine damage.
The big question is, what do you do when this happens miles from home?
Well, if you have the following creative little tricks up your sleeve, you can probably fix that leak long enough to slowly drive back home or to your favorite repair shop!
1. A Can of Bar’s Leak or Silver Seal
Bar’s Leak for cooling systems is a thick, goopy, gritty liquid that’s specifically made to put in your radiator to stop any leaks throughout your cooling system.
It allows you to keep on going while plugging up small leaks so you can top off your fluid again and get back home to do a full repair.
Silver Seal is a similar product, though it’s a powder and not a liquid.
In either case, it’s a good idea to have a can of one of these in your repair kit when you go off road for just such an emergency.
2. A Low-Pressure Radiator Cap
Engine cooling systems run under very high pressure to keep the coolant flowing through the radiator and all those hoses.
You can slow or stop a small leak by reducing the pressure on the system with a low pressure radiator cap, which should prevent the fluid from being pushed out of the leak.
Use a low pressure cap only as a temporary fix to get you to the repair shop; avoid putting too much strain on the engine since cooling efficiency will be reduced.
3. A Pair of Needle Nose Pliers
If your truck or Jeep has flat fin-style radiator tubes, you can use a pair of needle-nose pliers to temporarily close off a leaky tube long enough to get you to safety.
Do it by cutting the damaged tube completely in half, then crimping both ends and folding each end over itself multiple times, pinching it closed with the pliers each roll, until there is no longer any fluid leaking out.
4. Some Chewed Bubble Gum
Another quick fix for stopping the leak until you can slowly drive your off-road truck back home and to a repair shop is plugging the hole with thoroughly worked chewing gum.
For this idea to work, it should be freshly chewed gum that’s still pretty soft as you’ll need to cram it through the opening where the fluid is escaping.
If you get the leak slowed or stopped this way, take the radiator cap off to release pressure on the system and proceed slowly.
5. Pepper or Egg Whites
As odd as both of these may sound, they work the same way that Bar’s Leak does by clogging up a small opening from the inside as the pressurized coolant is pushed through.
Add the separated whites of 4 or 5 eggs into the radiator or ¼ to ½ cup of pepper for the fix.
Like all of these other ideas, this is only a temporary fix that will keep your cooling system working enough for you to drive your 4×4 back home or to the mechanical shop and then follow up with a proper repair.
Don’t think everything is just fine if the leak stops and everything seems normal.
Don’t Let Surprise Radiator Leaks Stop You On The Trail
Preparedness is the name of the game if you like to go off-road and that goes for your vehicle as well as you.
A radiator leak may seem pretty benign, especially if you have spare fluid in the truck or Jeep with you; however, letting it go can turn into a serious issue that could possibly cause serious engine damage.
Though some of them may sound weird, these temporary repairs can work long enough on small radiator leaks so you can turn back and get your prized off-road truck some attention before any additional damage is caused.
Keep some of these items in your emergency repair kit for a quick fix plus some of the eggs and pepper might make a good lunch when fried up with a camping stove, too!