Keeping bugs out of your radiator

Wayne

Administrator
Staff member
I tend to keep my vehicles for 150,000+ miles and have had to replace several radiators due to leaks. I can't say for sure what caused the leaks, but I can guess that being clogged with bugs and road debris that get wet and hold moisture contribute to rusting and leaks. Plus, the build up of debris over time will significantly reduce effective cooling.

I decided when we bought the new 2018 Duramax that I wanted to figure out a way to keep the bugs out of the radiator, A/C condenser, charge air cooler, and trans cooler. My answer was to drape a nylon door screen in front of the radiator and behind the front grill. The screen was installed about 40,000 miles and worked exactly as I had hoped. We did cross Nebraska during butterfly season and Wyoming during grasshopper season. You should have seen the carnage on the screen. Since the screen is flexible the bugs don't stay stuck long, as gravity wins. I wish I had taken pictures.

One of my concerns was that the screen may restrict enough airflow that the truck would over heat. I can assure you after pulling our Airstream up to the Eisenhauer tunnel several times, that it did not overheat. In fact, the temperature needle didn't move from normal. We also pulled the trailer in 108°F heat and the temperature needle didn't move from normal. I would bet that with the screen our radiator got more air than it would have after 40,000 miles of bugs getting crammed into the charge air cooler and reducing airflow.

Tonight I did the same screen treatment to the new 2021 Duramax and this time I remembered to take pictures. The taking the top radiator cover off the 2021 is simple. Remove the hood latch extender and use a puller tool to remove the insert from the radiator cover clip, then remove the body of the clip as shown.






Drape the screen in front of the radiator and tie it with zip ties. I didn't take pictures of the front of the radiator with the screen hung, but I should have.

The entire job is about 15 minutes, if you don't drop a clip into the air intake :(

Finished result.


 

gobi

Member
I used the same screen as Wayne but as an external thing, my oldest D and I made this in 20 mins with a hot glue gun and some wire ties/zip ties 7 years back and still holding fine, I have gone through many car washers and still good.

I used trim stock from Lowes
bug_scr.jpg
 

Wayne

Administrator
Staff member
Thread starter
I used the same screen as Wayne but as an external thing, my oldest D and I made this in 20 mins with a hot glue gun and some wire ties/zip ties 7 years back and still holding fine, I have gone through many car washers and still good.

I used trim stock from LowesView attachment 957
That's a LOT of bugs over the years that are not in your condenser and radiator!
 

gobi

Member
yeah, I was driving I-80 across NE and had to put this on in a hurry, it was dry and corn season and right around Kerney NE the front nearly clogged with bugs,
I stopped there for the night and next day there was a down pour as I drove west on 80, by the time I was in Denver, the screen was shiny clean.
 

Wayne

Administrator
Staff member
Thread starter
I was driving I-80 across NE and had to put this on in a hurry
We've seen several instances of grasshoppers and butterflies in Nebraska that would have clogged your radiator, but the absolute worse ever was on I-55 in New Madrid Missouri. I-55 is about 1/2 mile from the Mississippi river and it was time for some kind of fly to hatch. We drove through clouds of these bugs for about 20 minutes and had to stop at a TA to clean the windshield. I and several guys on motorcycles got to talking about the bugs. We talked and laughed about the bugs the whole time we where cleaning and pumping gas. Nobody had ever seen anything like it.
 

gobi

Member
You need to drive the inside US hwy around SD or NE after a bit of rain when the crop is nearing maturity.
We would wait for the GIANT bugs to splatter and make a 3 to 4 inch juicy mess on the windshield.
Yeah, my transit van is a mess to clean at the gas stations, their tiny wands are no use, I carry my own :cool:
 
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