View Full Version : Radiator Care / Grounding

05-27-2003, 05:17 AM
Since I have an aluminium radiator from the Ron Davis Shop in Glendale AZ I received their suggestions for grounding to prevent Electrolysis, hope the following helps you, this is retyped from their technical paper on the subject. A 10 gauge wire is needed to correctly ground their, your radiator.

The following are failures that are not manufacturer defects and therefore
not covered under warranty.

Improper Flush: Cooling systems require a thorough flush of the radiator,
engine, overflow tank, hoses and heater core, failure to do so will lead to
mixing coolants and contaminates and creating a deadly cocktail for the
cooling system.

Corrosion: The correct coolant and distilled water mixture prescribed by
the coolant manufacture of choice must be maintained. Water with high trace
elements of minerals will create problems for aluminum radiators not
normally seen in copper radiators.

Electrolysis: Electrolysis is the systematic removal of the protective layer
on the inside of the radiator tubes due to improper grounding. Electrical
grounding problems can stem from poor installation of aftermarket
accessories or incorrect vehicle collision damages.

Electrolysis facts: An electrical current passing through the coolant can
cause system component failures, due to electrical ground problems and the
generation of static electricity elsewhere in the vehicle. Electrical
grounding problems can stem from poor installation of aftermarket
accessories or incorrect vehicle collision damage repairs. This can destroy
cooling system components regardless of the quality of cooling system
maintenance. Depending on conditions it can be as quick as sixty days to
ruin a radiator. The only way it can be stopped is to correct the
electrical problem causing the current. Damage resulting from an electrical
current can be pitted liners, oil coolers, radiators, extreme aluminum
corrosion, and abnormal water pump and head gasket failures.

Testing for electrolysis in cooling systems: A multimeter or voltmeter
capable of reading both AC and DC currents is required to test cooling
systems. The meter needs to read zero to the maximum voltage of the system
being tested in tenths of a volt. The meter leads must be long enough to
reach between the coolant and the groundside of the battery. An ohm
function of a multimeter is very helpful to pinpoint areas of resistance in
an electrical system that will cause an electrical current to ground through
the coolant rather than the engineered electrical circuit.

Procedure: Attach the proper meter lead to the ground side of the battery,
negative-to-negative or positive-to-positive.
Install the second lead in the coolant touching the coolant only. Read the
DC and AC voltage with all systems turned off. If a block heater is
present, also take a reading with the heater turned on. If an automatic
battery charger is present, as a standby system, also take a reading with
this system running. Read the DC and AC voltage with the electrical starter
engaged. Read the DC and the AC voltage with the engine running and all
systems turned on: lights, coolers, fans, heaters, air conditioning, cell
phone, two-way radio, including the phone and radio on both standby and

The above procedure will test a complete system except for an electrical
current, which can be generated by the rear end transmission. This is
particularly true with air bag suspensions, rubber pad suspensions and
rubber-mounted transmissions. Any current generated will travel up to the
drive shaft to ground through the engine coolant. Grounding rear ends and
transmissions is strongly recommended.

Voltage of zero to .3 is normal in a coolant of cast iron engine. Such an
engine will be destroyed with time by .5 volts, and engine manufactures are
reporting .15 volts will destroy an aluminum engine.

The current will be AC if the problem is due to static electricity. If the
coolant shows an electrical problem with all the equipment turned on; turn
off one system at a time until you finally turn off the system that stops
the electrical current. When the current stops, this will indicate the
electrical system causing the problem.

Be partially careful of starters. They can cause as much damage to a
cooling system as a direct connection to an arc welder. This is due to the
amperage present.

Always change the coolant if a current is detected. The electrical current
will destroy the protecting chemicals in a properly inhibited coolant.

Information retyped by permission of Tim at Ron Davis's shop in Glendale, AZ
Please direct questions to his attention at:
www.rondavisradiators.com (https://www.rondavisradiators.com)
or 623-877-5000 x3 .

Hope this helps with questions regarding electrolysis in your cooling
Mike Goodwin & KoolKat '68 OTS E Type Jaguar

Dave Russell
05-28-2003, 03:00 AM
Ford Motor Co. put out a TSB (Tech. Support Bulletin) on the problem of rapid heater core destruction by electrolysis. They said almost the same things about testing grounding & the need for good grounding.

Apparently, in some cases, elecrolysis can be a real problem. Strange as it seems.