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Radiator internally cracked

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The radiator on the 76 FN 1600 engine has an internal crack, inside the "filler pipe" on the right hand side of the radiator.

This is an early set up without an external expansion tank and I assume the area between the filler and the radiator core itself is for expansion. There is a small hole towards the top of the filler to allow coolant into that area so my question is "Is this crack something that needs to be fixed immediately or something that can wait?"

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I would think that you should be thinking on replacing it.
As if it is cracking internally it won't be long until you get a crack externally.

Plastic ones get brittle over time with the heat and fluids passing through them then with the expansion and contraction of the coolant, the plastic weakens over time, and you would hate to be driving it and have it totally go on you making a bad day worse….with a engine seize.

I replaced my last totally plastic one on my 93 cabby with an all aluminum one, it was about 15 dollars more than the OEM plastic/aluminum one.

I also noticed that my running temp was a tad cooler after installing it.
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Ok a tad more…….



and it is one last plastic part on the engine….

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Thanks Brian


 Was hoping it's a common thing that doesn't affect the  operation and doesn't get worse. 


 I seen plastic ones mentioned in a few threads but what is actually plastic on them? I can't see any plastic components on this one (OEM) so assume it's not one of those?

Oh, and where did you get your replacement from?

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jvm said

Thanks Brian


 Was hoping it's a common thing that doesn't affect the  operation and doesn't get worse. 


 I seen plastic ones mentioned in a few threads but what is actually plastic on them? I can't see any plastic components on this one (OEM) so assume it's not one of those?

Oh, and where did you get your replacement from?

The side tanks that hold the radiator assembly are plastic tanks crimped over the core.

The way they bolted them on my 81 to the lower valance and used a iffy clippy thing caused it to rip the core from the left frame due to vibration….I replaced it with a Brass and copper one that was 18.5 years old, still working fine when I sold it…@ 20 years and over 333K miles….  

When my 93 split I opted for a beautiful all aluminum.
Bought it off of ebay.


What do Divorces, Great Coffee, and Car Electrics all have in common?

They all start with GOOD Grounds.

Where are my DIY Links?

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Thanks Kenneth and Brian for the extra info.

Trying to ID the right radiator is proving to be a problem. Part number is 171 121 253 but it doesn't have a letter after it which denotes the specific model of radiator  :(  

The size seems to be 480 x 322 and the lower mounts are on tabs to the side of the radiator, not underneath it like the examples above.
The only one that I have found online like this is from Werk34 but it doesn't reference the FN 1600 engine
Radiator, 480x322 mm


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Looks correct, but I would still say buy metal….
Plastic Parts on engines aren't a good thing.


What do Divorces, Great Coffee, and Car Electrics all have in common?

They all start with GOOD Grounds.

Where are my DIY Links?

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Mk1 Golf Radiators, Fittings & Expansion Tanks     JVM just read the description and take the measurements and you'll be fine, both werk34, and heritage will respond to email requests….

Hmm briano  iv done both ally and plastic on my cars. im happy to have the plastics, as even they have lasted 20+yrs on 5 of my cars. all fossil fuel cars will be banned before need a replacement.

On the drive
T25 Diesel…sameoldblueshiŁ (currently under resto)
Rocco gt2….1990 secret 2…(currently under resto)
Mk4 99 1.8t indigo blue Gti with 43k miles
Caster 93 clipper JH Green cabby
Snowy 91 GTi White cabby( sat waiting for inspiration)
Myvalver 89 GTi Grey mk2 16v
Yuppy Flu 91 GTi Flash Red Sportline


 Golf mk1 owner's club on Spotify

Mk1 golf owners club playlist: Golf mk1 owner's club playlist - YouTube

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you need the larger diesel/GTI one:
171 121 253 AM - topfill radiator, 525mm

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Been busy with work so not progressed this but will get back into it.
Thanks Rubjonny for the additional info. Is 525mm the core width? I'd have to also get new a new fan shroud if I go to that on as the OG rad is 480mm core width

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yes, looking at your picture its the 525mm radiator you have so everything should swap right over :)

you can tell by the rubber flaps on the side, the smaller rads dont have those

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My wiring diagrams and other documents have moved here:

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