Radiator Failure in Monaco era Beaver Coaches Submitted by BAC Member Rod Ogle


 Common Problems / Posted 3 years ago / 875 views

The all aluminum radiators used in the Monaco era Beaver coaches (2003 and forward) are prone to failure.  The most common failure owner’s report is cracking of the welds where the upper tank meets the cooling tubes. Another area of radiator failure, although apparently at a lesser rate, is the transmission cooling lines which are inside the radiator body. The exact rate of failure is not known.  Some radiator failures were reported within a year of manufacture, Monaco replaced many such radiators under warranty.  More failures are now being reported by Beaver owners as their coach’s age.

The cause.

Although not proven, many coach owners feel the failure is caused by weak welds, vibration from engine and rough road surfaces and finally from the normal flex in the chassis putting stress on the radiator.  By contrast, radiators made (pre 2003) with steel tanks and copper tubes appear to have fewer radiator failures reported.

The effects.

Leaking radiators results in coolant loss which leads to increased engine and transmission operating temperatures.  Extreme engine or transmission temperatures can lead to the dreaded road side breakdown.

Leaks in the transmission cooling lines inside the radiator can lead to contamination of transmission fluid.  A 1% contamination of transmission fluid with engine coolant can lead to catastrophic transmission failure.  At least one Allison Transmission repair shop has reported that engine coolant in transmission fluid is the #1 cause of transmission failure.  Not all transmission coolers are located in the radiator, some are separate units located between the radiator and engine.  These can also leak water into the transmission as they age.  We know of at least one that failed at about 10 years and 120,000 miles

Recommendations to owners.

Owners of Beavers coaches 2003 and newer, who have not already repaired or replaced their all aluminum radiators, should consider the following. Inspect your radiator frequently, paying particular attention to the upper corners of the radiator, as seen from the engine compartment side. Watch for wet spots under your coach in the radiator area. Closely monitor engine and transmission temperatures.  Every coach has its normal operating range, no two coaches seem to operate at exactly the same temperatures.  When either engine coolant or transmission temperatures start to creep up from “normal”….check your radiator. Finally, have transmission fluid analyzed at normal service intervals for signs of contamination, more often if you note any coolant loss.

Final thoughts.

Not all Beaver motor homes (2003 or later) will experience a failure of their aluminum radiator.  However, the chances of escaping the problem are not in your favor. If you are losing coolant, first check all hose connections and the surge tank. Some owners use a “stop leak” product in leaky radiators with apparent success.  CAT does not recommend the use of  “stop leak” products but its use is common in the industry. Repairing an all aluminum radiator does not seem to be practical or even possible.

New, all aluminum replacement radiators are still available and their cost ($2K +/-) is much lower than going with the steel/copper versions. However, many owners feel replacing a failed radiator with another aluminum radiator, is inviting the same issue down the road.

New radiators made with steel tanks and copper cooling tubes are seen as a much better long term solution and are more likely to be repairable if a problem does occur.  But, these units have to be custom made and typically run around $3K to $4K.  These units can weigh up to 400 pounds, making DIY installation a bit more challenging.

Labor costs to replace a failed radiator commonly range around $115-$140 per hour and 15 hours (+/-) to remove and replace your radiator is to be expected.

Check out the Beaver Ambassador Club web site.  Go to the Forum and click on the Technical Support tab.  Do a search for “radiator” and you can read fellow Beaver owners experiences with failed radiators and their solution.   Also look for the “Service Provider Guide”, this useful tool may help you locate shops in your area that have been recommended by fellow Beaver owners.

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