Written By Car Bibles Staff
Published Oct. 24, 2019

Your car engine is the beating heart of your vehicle, which is why it is so important that you prevent it from becoming damaged in any way possible. And one of the most important components in preventing damage is the cooling system. However, this system is also liable to go wrong, which means that your engine can overheat. When this happens, problems can range from the annoying to the seriously damaging. There is even the chance that your car will get written off altogether.

But rather than having to take your car into the mechanic each and every time you want to check the radiator pressure, you can do it yourself at home using a radiator pressure tester kit. However, if you have never bought a kit such as this, you need to know some more information about exactly what you are investing in. To help you out in your task, we have selected the best products on the market. Below you will find a product description of each of them, along with some of their key features and pros and cons. So, let’s get into it below.

The Best Radiator Pressure Tester Kit

First on the list, we have this simple piece of equipment from Mityvac. As well as being an affordable option, it is also one that works efficiently. Using the hand pressure pump, you can use it to determine whether or not there are any leaks in the cooling system of your vehicle. And if you work out that there is anything wrong, you can get to work solving the problem quickly.

There are plenty of different areas which can go wrong in the radiator including loose clamps, leaky hoses, and defective caps. Using this piece of equipment, you can work out exactly what is causing the issue. Included in the kit are plenty of adapters to ensure that it is functional with most cars and light trucks from the USA and Asia, and many European vehicles too.

Key Features
  • Hand pressure pump 
  • Quickly identify any leaks or other issues 
  • Works with many US, Asian, and European vehicles 
Specification
  • Brand Mityvac
  • Model MV4560
  • Weight 1 pounds
PROS

Simple and economical system

Easy to use with many common cars

CONS

Pressure hose needs proper tightening to avoid leaking 

Complete with its own case to keep all the individual components together, this kit works for the high pressure cooling system of modern vehicles. The dial is color coded, which helps you to test the different individual components. You can release pressure build-up using the pressure release bar.

Double check to make sure that the original kit is going to work with your vehicle. If not, you may need to buy an individual adaptor. There is a detailed instruction manual which should give you everything you need to use the system properly.

Key Features
  • Test high pressure cooling system and pressure caps up to 30 lbs 
  • Large color coded dial for accuracy 
Specification
  • Brand Stant
  • Model 12270
  • Weight 3.6 pounds
PROS

Easy to release pressure as needed 

Detailed instruction manual included 

Ready to use out of the box

CONS

Other adaptors may need to be purchased for different vehicles 

Astro is a well-known brand in the field of radiator pressure testing, and the kit has been used by motorists for years and years. Plenty of caps are included to ensure compatibility with many domestic and imported vehicles, but more are available should you need them. 

The blow molded case keeps everything together properly, so it is ready to whip out when you need to test the pressure of your cooling system. Everything is color coded to ensure that you can find the specific part you need quickly and easily.

Key Features
  • Lots of caps included with the kit – more also available 
  • Color coded for easy location
  • Options to evacuate, fill, and purge systems 
Specification
  • Brand Astro Pneumatic Tool
  • Model 78585
  • Weight 12.5 pounds
PROS

Blow molded case keeps everything together and protected

Large and extensive kit

CONS

More expensive than some other options 

The materials used in the making of this system include good quality plastic, aluminum, and rubber, which help to give the kit its durability. Designed to offer a universal fit to a wide range of vehicles, you can detect cooling system leaks, as well as being able to reduce the time spent refilling new coolant.

Eight different radiator cap adaptors are included in the kit, so you can choose the one that is most suitable for your vehicle. Everything is kept together comfortably in the easy to carry case. Everything is lightweight, so you can bring it around as needed, put it into storage, and get it out quickly when required.

Key Features
  • Works with the majority of domestic and import vehicles 
  • Comes with convenient lightweight case
Specification
  • Brand Goplus
  • Model TL31078
  • Weight 5.65 pounds
PROS

Durable materials

Wide application

CONS

Reports of leaking when pressurized

Some common vehicle adaptors not included 

Included in this kit are twelve different adaptors in a wide range of colors to suit most vehicles. Their bright and colorful appearance means that you are able to select the one you need with the minimal amount of hassle. 

Along with all the adaptors, you also have the hand pump that allows you to detect cooling system leaks, whether these are caused by a blown gasket or cracked blocks. It comes with a case for protection, but this is also ranked as a durable product, that should be usable for a long time to come.

Key Features
  • 12 colorful adaptors included 
  • Durable hand pump
  • Identifies range of common issues
Specification
  • Brand Performance Tool
  • Model W89733
  • Weight 4.65 pounds
PROS

Suitable for most types of vehicle 

Easy to reveal external cooling system leaks 

CONS

Reports of malfunction after limited number of uses 

The two main functions of this kit include the easy testing of leakages in your radiator system and quick changing of coolant. There is a vacuum purge and refill tool connection also included. 28 different pieces are also there, and each one is color coded, so you can find what you are looking for with minimal fuss.

Many different types of vehicle are supported, but double check to ensure that yours is one of them. Otherwise, you are likely to have to go through the time and effort of getting one that is. 

Key Features
  • 28 piece kit 
  • Color coded for ease and efficiency 
Specification
  • Brand freebirdtrading
  • Model Cooling System Tool Kit
  • Weight 13.23 pounds
PROS

Stylish and durable blue case included 

Easy leaking testing, vacuum purging and refilling

CONS

Some reports of leaking from the air pump

This cooling system leak checker is highly popular amongst its user base. This system is specifically designed to give you the ability to check for vacuum leaks and problematic airlocks, so you can refill the system with minimal fuss. Continual bleeding and purging of the radiator can get frustrating and time consuming, and this is exactly what this system aims to eliminate.

Key Features
  • OEM approved 
  • Works with cars, trucks, and off-road vehicles 
Specification
  • Brand UView
  • Model 550000
  • Weight 2.95 pounds
PROS

No need for continual bleeding and purging 

Eliminates problematic airlocks 

Works quickly

CONS

Operates with a compressor

This cooling system pressure tester works with a wide variety of vehicles including cars, light trucks, and motorbikes. Unlike other models that we have discussed so far which require multiple adaptors, this one has a universal fit design, which offers an increased level of convenience. It also comes with its own case to keep everything together nice and snugly.

Key Features
  • Works with a wide range of different vehicle types
  • Marine applications also supported
Specification
  • Brand OTC
  • Model 7991
  • Weight 3.52 ounces
PROS

Universal fit so multiple adaptors not required

Replaceable bladder

CONS

Does not test radiator caps 

Certain vehicles not supported 

If you think that you have any radiator or cooling system issues that you need confirming, this pressure test kit does the job that you need. There are plenty of different adaptors included, so you can choose the one that best matches your vehicle. Everything comes in a clearly organized case, so you can find the parts that you need with ease and test your vehicle quickly and efficiently.

Key Features
  • Checks leaks of radiators and cooling systems 
  • Range of adaptors included 
  • Tests radiators and their caps
Specification
  • Brand FJC
  • Model 43645
  • Weight 9.04 pounds
PROS

Well presented kit

Comprehensive range of parts 

CONS

At the more expensive end of the scale 

The last choice that we have for you is this radiator and cap test kit, which tests leakages in a wide range of domestic and imported vehicles. The cap in the kit comes complete with a lever that allows for fine pressure adjustments and the safe release of pressure. You can test pressurized cooling systems up to 30 PSI.

Key Features
  • Kit suitable for a wide range of domestic and import vehicles
  • Comes with hand pump and tester head
  • Two popular adaptors included 
Specification
  • Brand Kaupa
  • Model AMZTS9074
  • Weight 5.29 pounds
PROS

Durable kit

Good price 

CONS

May not fit some rarer vehicles 

Best Radiator Pressure Tester Kit Buying Guide & FAQ

Here is the buying guide section where we clear up any issues that you may still be having regarding radiator pressure tester kits.

What is a Radiator Pressure Tester?

The engine is obviously an absolutely vital component of your vehicle, and the radiator needs to be kept running smoothly. Essentially, it acts as a cooling system which keeps the engine from overheating. In these situations, damage is much more likely to occur. You can pretty much guarantee that a hot engine will not keep running for a long period of time. If this is not diagnosed quickly, all sorts of highly costly repairs are likely to be required.

So, a radiator pump pressure kit assists you in the job of finding any leaks in your cooling system. It works by duplicating the pressure levels of your coolant system, making leaks easier to spot and fix. As to why this is such an important piece of equipment, cooling system failures are highly common breakdown causes, so if you can spot them early, you can be prepared to mitigate against the damages. They work efficiently and accurately, as long as you invest in a good quality system. Some of the most common causes of engine leaks include leaking hoses, loose connectors and clamps, water pump issues, and problems with the radiator itself.

When you spot that there is an issue, you can quickly change the coolant and assess whether or not you need to make any further repairs. Through using the radiator pressure testing kit, you can either visually inspect the engine for leaks or smell antifreeze leaking out of it.

What to Consider When Buying a Coolant Pressure Tester

There are a number of different factors to consider before you buy a coolant pressure tester. Some of these are essential, whereas others matter more depending on what sort of buyer you are and the things that you consider to be most important. Here are just some of the main points that you need to bear in mind.

  • Compatibility with Your Vehicle 

There is no point in buying a coolant pressure tester that is not compatible with your vehicle. So, check that you can actually use the kit, whether you have a regular car, SUV, light truck or something else. Some kits are adaptable with a wide range of vehicles, but you need to determine whether these are worth paying more for. If you only plan on using the kit with a single vehicle, you can get something that is more specialized to work with it.

  • Ease of Use

If the kit is simple to use, this makes your life so much easier, and you are less likely to make a mistake and get some sort of inaccurate readings. If something is too difficult and frustrating to use, you may not even bother, and that negates the point of buying it in the first place. Look at the product description and what sort of instructions are included. Are there any video tutorials that allow you to visually see the product being used? Check previous customer reviews to see if anyone else has encountered any issues in the past.

  • Product Features

Some kits give you everything that you need to complete all tasks regarding your radiator, whereas others are more specialized to only be able to complete certain tasks. Essentially, you have to decide exactly what you need the kit for. Do you just need the basic pressure testing or something more? Some just include the hand pumps, whereas others have systems which help with purging and refilling coolant. Also, you should look at the individual components of the kit to see how these work. Some have fiddly components which are known to cause leaking, so investigate whether other users have had problems in the past.

  • Case 

You may think that the case is only an added extra, but it is important in keeping everything together properly. There are plenty of individual components that you need to keep together, and a good case allows you to do this. While we all like to think that we are very organized, the truth is that garages can get very messy and radiator pressure tester kits aren’t something that you need to use each and every day. Also, you should look at the case in terms of how much protection it provides should you happen to have an accident like dropping it somewhere. It can help to offer an additional layer of protection which stops anything from getting broken.

  • Accessibility of Repair Parts 

In case anything goes wrong with your coolant leak tester and you want to be able to get it repaired, you need to be able to find those parts. If you choose a big name brand product, you are more likely to be able to seek out those extra parts which are important to the functioning of the product. Gaskets, seals, and bladders are just some of the parts that can malfunction which you may need access to somewhere down the line.

  • Durability

A durable radiator pressure tester adaptor is always one which is worthwhile as you know that it is more likely to stand the test of time if you go for a cheap and flimsy product, there is every chance that it could go wrong and you are going to have to purchase a replacement very quickly. If it is made from good quality materials to begin with, it is much more likely to be the type of long-lasting product that you are looking for.

  • Ergonomics 

We have already talked about how it helps if a product is easy to use, but it also helps if it is ergonomically strong to make it more comfortable for you to use. It should fit your hand well and you should be able to use it without too much strain.

  • Price 

While it is not the only factor that you should consider in buying your cooling system pressure tester, many people are bound to take price into account. You should be looking for good value as long as it ranks highly in the other areas listed above. If you buy a cheap and flimsy product, you may not get a huge amount of use out of it before something goes wrong. And then you have the huge frustration and effort of having to get a replacement.

Why You Should Test Your Car’s Cooling System

There are plenty of good reasons why you should test your car’s cooling system. This is something that all vehicles need in order to keep the temperature at a safe level. During the combustion process, heat can build up in the cylinders, and there needs to be a way for the heat to dissipate. One way of doing this is by circulating air around the cylinders or washing a coolant and water mixture around.

There are several different components that make up an engine cooling system including the fan, clutch, radiator, water pump, hoses, and several others. The two parts for removing excessive heat from the engine are the fans and the radiators. These work by circulating the coolant around the hoses and keeping the temperature consistent. If the heat gets too much, permanent engine damage can occur. And this is the main reason why testing is so important.

The temperature of your engine should remain between 85 and 100 degrees. If it rises above this, internal components can become damaged due to melting and seizing up. And this tells you again just how important that engine’s cooling system happens to be. The secondary function of the coolant is preventing corrosion in some of the parts inside the engine. The cooling system needs to stay nice and strong, which is why testing it is so important. If you identify a leak early, you can fix it quicker. Not only can you get it sorted, you can also potentially save yourself some cash and maybe even save your whole vehicle.

How to Use Radiator Pressure Tester Kit

Now that you have your coolant pressure tester kit, you are going to have to know how to use it properly to identify the range of faults that can exist within the cooling system. First, you need to start with a cool engine and your car on dry ground that lets you see where the leak could be coming from. Carefully fill up the cooling system if it is low or empty as this helps you to detect any leaks. Make sure that you have the right personal protective equipment to avoid getting any injuries. Gloves and protective eyewear should both be on your list.

Before you remove the radiator cap, you are going to need to check that the system is fully pressurized. You can just squeeze the upper radiator hose using your thumb to see how much resistance it offers. In most cases, there won’t be much, but you should remove the cap slowly nevertheless. You will later be able to attach the pressure tester. Now you can get out your kit and give the components a quick visual inspection to ensure that everything looks properly in order.

Now, you will need to select the right adaptor. Most of these are color coded to make this task a little bit more straightforward. Once you have chosen the correct one, you can hook it up to the radiator or coolant reservoir. The pressure tester connector should be spring loaded, so you will need to push down before you twist the connector and lock it clockwise. Once it is in place, you will need to rapidly operate the hand pump as if you are pumping air into a tire. The needle should start moving upwards. If there is a problem, this is the point that you will see coolant leaking from one of the areas such as the hose, radiator, or engine. If the system won’t hold pressure, there is every chance that coolant is leaking out somewhere. You should pressurize the system around 14 lbs, and you should avoid going any higher than 18 pounds as this can end up causing a rupture.

Once you have completed the test, it is time to remove the kit once again. You should just need to twist the connector in a counterclockwise direction until it comes loose. The pressure release sound will signify that it is time. Coolant or water could be expelled from the system during this time. Before putting the tester back in its case, it is worth giving everything a clean to keep it all in good working order for the next time you bring it out. When you are putting it away into storage, you should choose a place that is cool to prevent the heat from negatively affecting the product. Also, choose a place where it is not likely to get knocked down and damaged in any way.

Our Top Pick 

Returning to our number one choice on the list, we have this one from Mityvac, which works in a simple and efficient way to test the pressure in your vehicle. You can use it to identify the common causes of overheating and get ahead of the game in solving the issue. There are plenty of individual faults which can all be diagnosed using this kit. Since it is suitable for a wide range of vehicles, it is likely that yours will be included in the list. For all these reasons and more, we have ranked it as our number one choice.

Sources:

  1. How to Pressure Test a Radiator Cap – Your Mechanic
  2. How to Use a Radiator Pressure Tester – It Still Runs
 

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