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Radiators need to breathe

Updated: Oct 15, 2021

While washing my 4x4 recently I noticed a significant amount of dirty water coming off the radiator and realized that this is a very important system of any vehicle that is often neglected.

The basic principle of a radiator is to get rid of engine heat by transferring this heat to a cooler atmospheric air, but for this to work, the surrounding air must be effectively pushed or pulled through this radiator to ensure proper cooling, this was not happening with my radiator. The radiator is also a tricky component to clean, as rear access to the radiator is normally restricted due to the "cowling" type cover used to allow the fan to suck air through the entire surface area of the radiator (increases efficiency).

My solution: a DIY engine wand

Basically three components: 1 off tap connector - approx. R 20.00 (pictured right), 1 off plastic-type irrigation pipe (diameter and length to suit your preference, I went for a 600mm 3/4 inch) - approx. R 25.00, and a 360-degree screw-on type garden sprayer - approx. R 45.00

I managed to get all these items from my local hardware and assembled them all with a bit of thread sealing tape I had laying around, to ensure a good fit.

The sprayer I used (pictured right) is adjustable from 0 to 360 degrees, which is a very useful feature when directing water to a specific point.

You can improve further on this design by adding a valve to allow stopping of the water once the tap is opened (I found that a kink in the hose works just as well and costs approx. R 0.00)

Assemble as above, connect to a garden hose and use to clean inside hard to reach areas in the engine bay by dipping the wand into the engine compartment in the areas you deem necessary, especially in and around the radiator and other coolers installed. I found that the sprayer can be adjusted to a beam of about 20 degrees which provides a concentrated stream, with relatively low pressures, to clean specific areas of the radiator. This wand also works great for washing under a vehicle and inside the wheel wells behind the wheels, which is typically hard to reach with a normal hose or pressure washer.

Some common sense needs to be applied, I do not recommend using high-pressure water streams near engine electrical components, to prevent damages, but the wand can be easily controlled with the tap to increase/decrease washing pressures.

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