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Jim Grant Tech Tips Jim Grant Tech Tips
A collection of helpful articles based on reader submissions
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Below is a collection of Jim Grant's Tech Tips sorted by Vehicle Make. These Tech Tips were answers to questions submitted to Jim by users over the course of many years.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email us.



Lincoln - Mercury
  Jim Grant's Tech Tips

'99 Subaru, Radiator Electrolysis

Q: What tests can be done on a '99 Subaru with a suspected electrolysis problem in the coolant system? I've had several radiator core replacements in a short time frame. The coolant checks out good (pH balance/color etc.)

- Walter T.

A: There is an electrolysis problem that is becoming the new haunting of today's automobile. If electrolysis is occurring in the cooling system it can/will cause rapid failure of the radiator or heater core. Electrolysis causes a chemical reaction that involves an ion exchange between the radiator or heater core and engine coolant. To state it simply, the coolant just eats the metal of the radiator or heater until there is none left. There are a couple forms of electrolysis that can occur in the cooling system. The most common is due to bad/acidic anti-freeze, which most people have a basic understanding of. The not so common electrolysis, but more deadly, is an electrically induced electrolysis. This is where the vehicle's electrical system causes a high rate of ion exchange in the cooling system that rips through heater cores or radiators. To test for this condition you need a digital volt meter. Start the engine and bring it up to about 2000 RPM. With the cooling system at operating temperature and the coolant flowing, connect the negative probe of the volt meter to the negative terminal of the battery. Place the positive probe in the coolant at the radiator and monitor the voltage. If you see .4 volts or greater reading on the voltage meter the coolant has to be flushed or there is a ground problem on the vehicle. If it is a ground problem you will most likely see the voltage reading climb if you turn on electrical accessories. To correct this condition will require inspection of the vehicle chassis/body and engine grounds. You may have to install a ground wire on the heater core and/or radiator to the battery. Electrically induced electrolysis in a cooling system is a mean beast. But it can be easily tamed with diagnosis and a good ground wire.

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