Should replacing a 2-row rad with a 1-row cause problems?

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  #1  
Old 11-27-16, 10:21 AM
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Should replacing a 2-row rad with a 1-row cause problems?

Hi. I had a very small radiator leak in my 1992 Chrysler Town & Country 3.3, and I decided to do this the right way and have my mechanic replace the radiator rather than use any stop-leaks on this well-running vehicle. Well, nothing but aggravation since. I could only make it 2 miles from the mechanic. It overheated and I pulled over and parked. It also ran with less power (resistance) the whole 2 miles.

I have since changed the thermostat. My mechanic also came by with a device to remove air from the system. None of that resolved the overheating issue. However, I originally had a 2-row radiator. All the chain parts stores only sell the 1-row radiator, so that is the radiator that I got (part number CU1125). My mechanic believes that I am having this issue because it's the wrong radiator. He didn't notice the difference when he installed it.

I'm skeptical. While I can see that you probably don't want to replace a 2-row rad with a 1-row rad, the research I've done seems to reveal that the van should still run with the 1-row radiator. So I'm skeptical that my sudden overheating issue and sluggish accelerating upon radiator swap gets resolved by returning the 1-row rad and ordering the less-available 2-row rad. What are you guys thoughts on that? Thanks so much...
 
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  #2  
Old 11-27-16, 10:41 AM
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In theory you have reduced the cooling by 50% and the overheating started when you put the one row in and you are skeptical? The fastest way to check would be put the original radiator back in if you still have it available, if the overheating stops you will have your answer. Or you need to find the correct radiator for your application and fix the problem. You might also verify that the hoses are not collapsing causing the heating.
 
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Old 11-27-16, 10:41 AM
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Did your mechanic replace the upper and lower hoses? It could be from a collapsing upper hose. Just a WAG.
 
  #4  
Old 11-27-16, 11:10 AM
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Good point, Ron. It seems to be a general consensus I've received this afternoon is that the overheating is happening too quickly, regardless of whether the radiator is 1-row or 2-row. However, yes, this would appear to be the only changed variable. The lower hose was changed with the radiator, and to chandler's point, the mechanic has been feeling the upper hose through the whole process, likely making sure he's feeling flow.
 
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Old 11-27-16, 11:14 AM
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If the upper hose was "squeezable", then it could be missing the inner spring. Having an air embolism behind the thermostat could cause the hose to collapse since it was starved for coolant.
 
  #6  
Old 11-27-16, 11:28 AM
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Thanks, Chandler. I'll consider that possibility. I would hope that the mechanic considered the upper hose to be functioning properly, but I'll mention it.
 
  #7  
Old 11-27-16, 02:37 PM
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Not sure why YOU are hassling with this, not the mechanic that messed it up.

As of the rows question. here's what I believe is good explanation:

Actually, more channels does mean it will cool better, if each channel has the appropriate amount of cooling fins to support it.

Any water going through a larger channel will always be warmer than water coming out of two smaller channels that handle the same volume and the same cooling setup. This is because the smaller channels have more surface area to remove heat.

It really does not matter if it is one, two, or three rows. The cooling system has to be designed work with the cooling properties of the radiator installed. This could be combination of circulating the water at different speeds or changing the volume of water used in the system.

The discrepancy between various brands, the number of rows, and how well they cool is partially due to having to work with limited surface area of the TJ radiator. Compared to the radiators in other I6 4.0 Jeeps the water has to be cooled in a shorter distance and has two to three less quarts of coolant to work with than a XJ/ZJ radiator.
 
  #8  
Old 11-27-16, 10:01 PM
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Hi ukrbyk. Thank you. Yes, I wish I didn't have to be involved. The mechanic is obviously perplexed, and I have to lend some insight to him. For example, for whatever reason, I had a similar situation back in April when another mechanic installed a water pump for me. The cooling system didn't normalize until about 5 round trips of coolant overflowing from the bottle followed by topping off the radiator. It seems that air was trapped in the system back then. I'm thinking MAYBE it's the same thing again. It's important to note that between April and this current episode I had no issues of the temperature getting too high.

Thanks for the copy of that explanation. I did come across that exact explanation before I posted here. It sure does seem that the number of rows should not affect the functioning in this manner. While it's not likely a cure to switch back to a 2-row radiator...now that I'm aware that I put in a different radiator than I took out, I will start out by putting in a 2-row since that is what was in there and should be preferable. After that, I will lean on my mechanic to resolve this while reminding him of how the prior mechanic resolved a similar scenario in April.

What I don't get about either episode is that I've often flushed and filled my coolant systems without experiencing this!
 
  #9  
Old 11-28-16, 01:50 PM
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Your car reminds me of my beloved 87 Taurus. That thing was unbelievably hard to purge air out of cooling system. Later I found that dimwits designed it that way as many had exactly same issue and it apparently never was fixed. I drove for about a week after some coolant line replacement, with 2 jars of coolant in the trunk, adding it until it finally purged itself.
Who knows. Air may be trapped in heater core, sometimes they rush and do not open it full power for purge. Some engines have to have mounts loosened and front and lifted up to create proper angle for air to travel out of the system. Make sure you do NOT have purge screw as then it's at the highest system point and MUST be released to purge. Usually in t-stat housing if t-stat is UP, not under the engine like in 2.4L Ranger engine.
Honestly, you can drive around with piece of cardboard covering entire radiator and engine will not overheat. So I am quite apprehensive about entire row conundrum.
 
  #10  
Old 11-28-16, 03:30 PM
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Hi ukrbyk. Yes, I highly doubt the 2-row radiator will cure anything. I'm just starting from scratch and putting in my preferable choice. I'm sure I'll be going the route you did with your Taurus and adding coolant for quite a while!
 
  #11  
Old 11-29-16, 07:37 PM
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In response to Ron53, I did hours of research online and driving around to local stores. It turns out that the aftermarket radiators for this vehicle are all 2-row "equivalent", which means 1-row that does the job of 2-rows. The final determiner after I couldn't find the OEM replacement at any of the chain stores or any online retailer was the local radiator warehouse that handles the radiator orders for the shops and dealers in my state. He told me that he had the 2-row. At $50 more, I said to myself "I finally found it!". I go to pick it up today, and it's the exact same one that I have already installed. So the bottom line is that in today's market, this is my radiator...CU1125.

I COULD still put the old radiator back in, but I don't think that the radiator type is the issue. How could they even sell these radiators, then? I think it must be that the system needs purging...and a lot of patience.
 
  #12  
Old 11-30-16, 03:07 AM
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Have you verified that the fan cuts on when it's supposed to?
My jeep like the previous one I had has to be 'burped' when changing the anti freeze and while it's a little bit of a hassle it's not that big of a deal - you just can't flush/drain, fill and forget it.
 
  #13  
Old 11-30-16, 05:59 AM
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Hi marksyr. Glad you brought that up. ukrbyk has also experienced this, so I'm glad to know that this dilemma is not uncommon. Yes, it would seem that the flush/drain, fill and go days are over. That was the case when I changed the water pump in April, and it's the case now.

Thanks for bringing up the fan. Maybe there is an issue there. The fan turned on when it was supposed to, but I noticed it also turned off when it probably still needed to be on. I'll have to investigate this as well. Thanks!
 
  #14  
Old 12-05-16, 04:41 PM
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Hello everyone. Thank you all for your help with this. I may have to start a new thread, but first-off here is my result with this:

So there is another means of getting air out of the system on this vehicle, which turns out to be removing the coolant sensor near the thermostat housing. So through that and the funnel system, the air was evacuated from the system. However, the overheating problem remained. My mechanic determined that the radiator HAD to be the issue. I told him there's one way to find out...to put the old one back in. I could tell that he didn't want to do it, but we had agreed to do it Saturday. He then wouldn't take my calls. Too bad. I went to someone new on a recommendation on Sunday. He wasn't thrilled with putting the old one in, either, but he agreed to do it. Cooling problem solved. No overheating.

So this was either a defective radiator, or else this radiator that is the only radiator sold for my van at all 4 local chain stores, as well as the local radiator warehouse that handles shops and dealers in my state, does not work in my van even though it calls for it. There is an online retailer that sells a "2-row equivalent" with a part number that still still has "1125" in it. I wouldn't chance it. The same retailer also has a "3-row equivalent". I might chance that one. However, my first choice is to attempt to have mine rebuilt since it functions correctly.

That said, the lack of power issue remains. I had no such issue until the radiator swap. The van ran wonderfully. I did have to add about 1 1/2 quarts of transmission fluid over the course of the 2 swaps since some leaks out during the swaps, and I also have a small tranny fluid leak. But the problem did not go away upon adding the fluid. Noticeable lack of power immediately upon stepping on the accelerator, and it also doesn't want to shift properly. Something happened during the radiator swap that the transmission didn't/doesn't like. If anyone knows what that could be, I'd love to know! Thank you all...
 
  #15  
Old 12-05-16, 05:00 PM
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No, please don't start a new thread. We can follow this one. It sounds as if it has to do more with the tranny than directly with the radiator. If I remember your problems with power didn't start until you removed the radiator.
 
  #16  
Old 12-05-16, 05:12 PM
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Thanks, Chandler. We'll stay right here then.

Yes, that's correct. I had NO problems operationally with the van until the radiator swap. I can only assume that there was something about the swap that the tranny did not like, especially since the tranny fluid has been brought back to the approprate level. I have no idea why I'm having this issue with power and shifting. Maybe some coolant overflow got somewhere it shouldn't? Or maybe the transmission line isn't connected properly to the radiator? I have no idea...
 
  #17  
Old 12-05-16, 06:01 PM
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Have the original radiator rebuilt with a new core with no less than 2 rows. The transmission has no idea that the radiator was changed they aren't that smart, yet. Since the power issue started after someone was working under the hood, I would take a very long look at every electrical connection, every vacuum hose connection, and anything else in or around the radiator. I think it is a case of something got knocked loose during the change, seen that kind of stuff happen many times.
 
  #18  
Old 12-05-16, 06:24 PM
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Hi Ron53. Yes, thanks. That is exactly how I want to go with the radiator. Have it rebuilt with a new core with 2 rows. Fortunately, the current leak is so minor that I can wait and address the now main issue.

Yes, it is a very good possibility that something got knocked loose. Or maybe something got wet that shouldn't have?

While the transmission wouldn't know that the radiator was changed, wouldn't it notice something amiss from a non-functioning radiator at the outset? The radiator serves a purpose for the transmission, no? Or does it have to be something like you suggested at this point now that the functioning original radiator is back in?
 
  #19  
Old 12-06-16, 02:35 AM
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The only function of the radiator pertaining to the transmission is cooling the fluid. I would assume if the new radiator didn't cool the tranny fluid or restricted it's flow the transmission issues would be more prominent. Anything that got wet during the swap should have dried out within 10-15 minutes of run time.
 
  #20  
Old 12-06-16, 09:59 AM
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Hi marksyr. Got it. The mechanic did feel that since the coolant wasn't circulating, the engine wasn't being cooled. I believe that would also apply to the transmission?

And if the transmission wasn't cool, it is still strange that the loss of power issue was immediate upon driving away from the radiator installation, and it didn't change with any cold starts or with the functioning old radiator re-installed or with the tranny fluid that was lost topped off. Also, I agree that my problem should have gotten worse by now...though I've only driven a total of 12 sporadic gingerly miles. It remains that I have to step harder on the accelerator from park, and it also seems that the van doesn't want to go into 3rd gear...but I'm not pushing it to know for sure. When I get to 35mph, the RPM gauge is about 275 to 300. Is that normal?
 
  #21  
Old 12-06-16, 10:09 AM
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If you mean 2750 to 3000 rpm - that's high for 35 mph. Is it not shifting gears?
 
  #22  
Old 12-06-16, 10:26 AM
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Yes, 2750 to 3000. The gauge abbreviates. I don't feel as though it's shifting gears, but due to the power-loss I'm also not pushing the vehicle. However, what would be normal RPM at 35mph? In fact, what would be normal RPM at each kickdown, and at what mph should I expect each kickdown?
 
  #23  
Old 12-07-16, 02:28 PM
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My jeep runs in the neighbor hood of 1500 rpm at 35mph in 3rd gear. I'd guess yours is still in 2nd maybe even 1st.
 
  #24  
Old 12-07-16, 06:58 PM
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Thanks, marksr. I thought the RPM was too high. Does that rule out something electrical?

I'm trying to figure out how this would start to happen IMMEDIATELY after the installation of the defective radiator and adding tranny fluid to the appropriate level. It was functioning fine up until that point. Even with the swap back to the old functioning radiator and adding tranny fluid again, I'm still having this result. Just having a difficult time figuring out why this problem began right then. Could be coincidence, I suppose, if there is not a probable suspected reason for this.
 
  #25  
Old 12-08-16, 03:15 AM
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I don't know a lot about automatic transmissions. All the radiator does is take the fluid in and cool it some before it exits the other end of the radiator and returns to the transmission. If there are any electrical connections affecting the transmission I would expect them to be closer to the computer.
 
  #26  
Old 12-08-16, 08:30 AM
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Just having a difficult time figuring out why this problem began right then.
I refer you back to post #17 and possibly finding the answer to the problem.
 
  #27  
Old 12-08-16, 05:51 PM
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Hi Ron53. Yes, absolutely will be doing that this weekend. Thanks so much.
 
  #28  
Old 12-18-16, 10:12 PM
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After over 3 weeks of misery with this, I have conclusion...and it's good news!

So we've concluded already that I likely had a defective new radiator. Or it just wouldn't work in my vehicle for whatever reason. I've already stated that in time I will have the old radiator rebuilt. For the time being it functions well...just a pinhole leak that's barely noticeable...and I will ride out the winter like that. We don't use it much in the winter to avoid the road salt.

As far as the loss of power/tranny issue: I already stated that I had to add 1 1/2 qts tranny fluid. It turns out that was overstated a bit.

We just came off an arctic blast, and another one is here. We had 12 hours of balmy weather in between. During that time Saturday, I gave the van a real test with a lot of driving. It started off as sluggishly as it's been. However, there was indeed improvement on my way to my new mechanic (the same guy who re-installed my old radiator) for the test ride. The mechanic was very satisfied with the operation. He says the tranny was shifting properly. It seems with more and more driving, the van was operating more and more normally. A check of the now hot tranny fluid reveals that it is now in the top of the range. Therefore, it was likely only 1/2 to 3/4 qt low to begin with...taking note that there is a low and high end to the range.

So here's my conclusion: the tranny has 202,000 original miles. I already have a small leak. The tranny was probably nearly 1/2 qt low when the new radiator was installed. The tranny fluid lost on the switch, as little as it was, was probably enough for the tranny to display dissatisfaction. Being an old tranny, it probably wasn't going to react quickly to the new tranny fluid that was added. I know first-hand that there is often a delayed acceptance of new tranny fluid by an old tranny. I can tell stories about that! So I believe that the new fluid is now accepted.

So after all this time and expense, I'm back to square one...a good-running vehicle with a pinhole radiator leak...and I couldn't be happier! I've also found the new mechanic that I will likely use for many years. Seems real good, and definitely someone who takes pride in his work and appreciates his customers.

Thanks to everyone for all the input. I received some great advice and a lot of sympathy. I learned a lot about radiators, cooling systems, air pockets, and what to do about air pockets. I really appreciate you guys!
 
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