|Rover 800 Replacement Radiator & Air-Conditioning Condenser.|
Car: 1999 Rover 800 820 Auto Fastback
Colour: Charcoal Grey / Black
With the water level slowly dropping in the coolant reservoir/overflow bottle it was decided we must have a leak somewhere. Now all we had to do was to find it! (The coolant bootle itself was a new MG-Rover one, after the old one had sprung a leak.)
Finding the latest leak was not as easy as we first thought though! We checked the radiator and all of the the hoses for any signs of a leak, but we could not find any drops of coolant anywhere, and we were not getting any puddles under the car whenever it was parked.
We thought whatever liquid is escaping must be escaping from a very small leak as steam. Eventually using torches at night time we managed to discover a very small leak on the radiator, where the metal clamps around onto the plastic side tank. This can often be the weak point in a radiator.
Due to the age of the radiator, having been in the car from new, we decided to buy a new replacement. We would also change the air conditioning condenser (front radiator) at the same time. We already had a second hand replacement from a much lower mileage car that we were going to use. The air con condenser we had in the car was leaking out gas from where the lower pipe joined the radiator due to a bad thread. Rather than re-tap the threaded part, we decided it would be better and easier just to replaced the condenser for the one that was in better condition (and because we suspected the air con rad had also developed a small leak within the splines).
Having already changed a radiator over in the 800 coupe in the morning (see page elsewhere in this site), we then spent 2 and a half hours of the afternoon working on this car. Finishing just before it snowed!
The Failed Rubber Bungs that Support the Top of Air-Conditioning Condenser to the Car had Already been Removed from this Car on a Previous Occasion, So that we Could Make Some of Our Own!
The Skid Plate was Removed from Underneath the Car. The Radiator Pipes were Removed and the Coolant Drained off. The Metal Panel, (and Bonnet Catch) was Removed and the Original Radiator was Lifted Out.
The Air-Conditioning Condenser was also removed.
This is the Front of the Old Radiator. As Normal on the Rover 800, the top and Bottom Sections are Always the ones to Suffer Most.
The Leak though was from the Left Plastic Side Tank, about Two Thirds of the way down the Seam. (The Leak was that Small that it has Not Even Left a Trace of Where it Was!)
The Rear of the Radiator Looks a Little the Worse for Wear (Once the Fans had been Removed). The Fins were Suffering from Corrosion/Oxidisation and it was Only a Matter of Time, before this Radiator Would Lose the Fins in these Places.
The New Aluminium Radiator Looks Much Better.
The Fans have been Refitted to the Rear of the New Radiator. The Fans on the Rover 820 Auto are Identical, so even though the Radiator is Upside Down in this Photo, that does not matter to the position of each of these Fans.
The Old Air-Conditioning Condenser was still a Usable one, but the Thread had gone, where the Lower Pipe Bolts into it, and Rather than Re-thread this Air-Conditioning Condenser we Decided to Replace it with a Better one that had done Fewer Miles.
This is the Replacement Air-Conditioning Condenser.
The Replacement Air-Conditioning Condenser and New Radiator were Fitted to the Car. We made Sure the Pipes to the Replacement Air-Conditioning Condenser were not Over-Tightened! ...and also used a bit of Hematite to make Sure we had a Good Seal.
The Two Pipes were Connected onto the Radiator. The Coolant was Replaced with the Correct 50/50 mix of Anti-Freeze and Distilled Water.
The Metal Panel was Put Back in Place. New Rubber Gromits were Used on the Radiator Spikes. Home Made Rubber Mounts were Used for Mounting the Replacement Air-Conditioning Condenser Firmly in Place.
The Home Made Rubber Mounting Bracket, Should Prove to be Better than the Original Ones!
The Other Home Made Rubber Mounting Bracket Holding the Replacement Air-Conditioning Condenser in Place.
The Weather began to Change to Snow! Luckily we had just Finished in Time!
The Car was Driven and then the Coolant was Topped up to the Maximum Level. By this time the Correct 8.5 Litres of Coolant Mix for the 2.0 Litre Car had been Added. So it Should Prove to be Free of any Air-Locks.
All that remains is for the Air Conditioning to be Refilled!
UPDATE: The only way we could test the air con condenser connection was with a refill! So, after getting the air con refilled (at a very cheap price), it was soon obvious that the aircon gas was escaping from the same connection from the bottom pipe attached onto the air con condenser. Although this time it was because of the o-ring and not because of a bad thread, as we had made sure they were not over tightened the bolt when we fitted it.
(we think it was a tiny leak from the bad o-ring that had caused the over tightening of the bolt the last time)!
After a few days the air con had lost it's chill again, and over the next few weeks, most of the gas had slowly escaped!
We had not replaced the o-rings when we replaced the air con condenser, this was because they were not listed as a part at the dealers and we were unable to buy any new ones. (Judging by the diagrams, It seemed that they may not even be included when purchasing new pipes either!).
Not replacing the old o-ring at a known leaky point was a bad idea because it had cost us a refill!
Fortunately a few weeks later, we managed to obtain an o-ring of a suitable size in a universal o-ring kit, and after replacing this, and getting the aircon refilled once more (again, at the same cheap price!) the system has worked great since then.