Radiator question

Instigatr

Active member
Joined
Sep 4, 2016
Location
NE WA State
TDI
03 Golf 2 door MTM
Hello all
Have a question regarding the radiator in my 03 Golf. Noticed it has a minor seep, low on the driver's side. And as we all know, leaks rarely fix themselves before they run out of whatever fluid is leaking....
Anyway, idparts lists 3 different radiators for my 03. Near as I can tell, it's just different brands, for up to double the price of the first one. Maybe this is more of a question for IBW, but anyone have any recommendations on which one? I sent a question on the idparts website, but it has gone unanswered for awhile now.
Car is slowly getting into what is considered good mechanical condition.
Thanks
Aaron
 

csstevej

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Aug 12, 2004
Location
north nj
TDI
2001 golf tdi 4 door auto now a manual, mine, 2000 golf 2 door M/T son's,daughters 98 NB non-TDI 2.0, 2003 TDI NB for next daughter, head repaired and on road,gluten for punishment got another tdi 2001NB,another yellow tdi NB
Give them a call….. they are pretty good at picking up the phone.
Personally you should be fine with any of them……
 

Johhny04

Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2006
Location
Markham, Ontario
TDI
2003 Jetta TDi
Go with a name brand and save yourself the headache, purchase the 4 radiator support brackets for each side now. If its never been replaced before, the radiator support brackets for sure are worn out and will need to be replaced.
 

TDI Jim

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2006
Location
Gaithersburg, Maryland
TDI
1996 Passat, 1996 Passat Variant (RIP), 2002 Jetta Wagon, 1995 Passat Variant TDI conversion brought back from the dead, 1997 Passat Variant project, and returned 2014 Passat
The off brands can have issues with the plastic piece extension connection leaking on the lower radiator hose. I would go valeo or nissens, but can understand when money is tight as we have all been there.
 

oilhammer

Certified Volkswagen Nut & Vendor
Joined
Dec 11, 2001
Location
outside St Louis (where it's safe)
TDI
There are just too many to list....
I would go for one of the OEM suppliers, which is usually going to be Behr/Hella or Valeo. These radiators rarely fail on their own, it is usually a result of a crash with something (doesn't take much, everything is plastic), so you may want to get the front of the car apart FIRST to see if you need anything else.

It is quite common for me to get one here in the shop that the owner thought was just a small "bump" against a curb, and they end up needing a new lock carrier, a new condenser, new radiator, all new radiator mounts, a fan mount, and maybe a couple other small bits.
 

DivineChaos

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jul 27, 2019
Location
Minnesota
TDI
mk6 jetta sportwagen tdi
Hello all
Have a question regarding the radiator in my 03 Golf. Noticed it has a minor seep, low on the driver's side. And as we all know, leaks rarely fix themselves before they run out of whatever fluid is leaking....
Anyway, idparts lists 3 different radiators for my 03. Near as I can tell, it's just different brands, for up to double the price of the first one. Maybe this is more of a question for IBW, but anyone have any recommendations on which one? I sent a question on the idparts website, but it has gone unanswered for awhile now.
Car is slowly getting into what is considered good mechanical condition.
Thanks
Aaron
Where exactly is it leaking from? Pics?
 

Zak99b5

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2021
Location
Albany NY
TDI
2003 Jetta TDI
I'd use the best you can afford. It's a bit of a pita. Definitely have some long bolts to support the lock carrier in the "service position."
 

BobnOH

not-a-mechanic
Joined
May 29, 2004
Location
central Ohio
TDI
New Beetle 2003 manual
I replaced mine on my first TDI (99.5 J). Bought the cheapest one, never had any issues in maybe 6 years, car was totaled. It was made in China. If you plan on keeping the car a long time, definetly get the Valeo. Doing your own work, $90 is peanuts.
 

benmarks

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2003
Location
Portland, OR
TDI
2004 Jetta GLS Sedan Platinum Gray
Another vendor option is Cascade German in Portland, and they're usually good about picking specific good aftermarket vendors. The one I got was Nissen.

Another option, though not the most economical, is Darkside's all-aluminum radiator which removes the plastic parts. This might be better as an upgrade after you've done other performance upgrades though, if that's something that interests you:

 

Instigatr

Active member
Joined
Sep 4, 2016
Location
NE WA State
TDI
03 Golf 2 door MTM
Where exactly is it leaking from? Pics?
Didn't take any pictures at the time. Was last fall when I noticed it. Money was an issue at the time, and it was real minor. One of those things were I filed it in the memory bank and figured I would replace it as soon as I could. Now money is available and the car is getting some much needed love.

As far as oilhammers comment, been there and done that more times than I can count. Thanks for the advice.

On Darkside development radiator, I see they are a UK company. Seems like shipping would be kind of high, but I am real partial to ordering it.... There's been many upgrades done to the car, some of which I am sure that I'm unaware of.

Working on replacement of the radiator in my 94 gmc truck as we speak because the side tank is failing. Found a really nice all aluminum tig welded radiator for it at a very reasonable price.

As always, I am very thankful for all the advice. Someday I hope to be able to help the community on here as much as you guys have helped me.
Aaron
 
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GlowBugTDI

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 20, 2018
Location
Cambridge, MN
TDI
2001 Beetle GLS TDI (BIODSL). Glow Bug TDI (sold)
Could run to the walmart and get best brand stop leak. I have never used in a vw, but i have in a leaky s10 and it worked short term while i owned it
 

benmarks

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2003
Location
Portland, OR
TDI
2004 Jetta GLS Sedan Platinum Gray
Darkside is a UK company, but they ship a ton of stuff to the US. A lot of us here use them. They usually use DHL. I just entered my address to estimate the cost to me on the west coast, and it is $69, which for something that big is a pretty good price whether of domestic or European origin.
 
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UhOh

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Dec 24, 2014
Location
PNW
TDI
2000 & 2003 Golf GLS
Original lasted 19 years. If that's not long enough then MAYBE go with something up-scale. I'd say it's more about quality control than materials, so OEM (be it plastic or whatever) should be fine.
 
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