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03 Saturn Ion 300k+ miles NEED IT TO GO A BIT MORE DIY WOMAN, HELP!

I have a 03 Saturn Ion Lvl 3; the car is a real trooper, it has 324,000 miles :joy: I hit an animal and my radiator and cooling fan are trashed. From what I can see the only actual damage is to those parts. My question is…Online the radiators for my car only show 1 row of radiator, but the one in my vehicle has 2. If the second row that I have is the a/c condenser, can I just replace the radiator without it and just not use the air conditioning? I’ve done multiple self repairs on the car, so I’m looking to get her drivable for another month or so.

You could do w/out the AC, but the defroster will not work as well.

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I kind of learn as I go through each new repair so forgive me for being dumb… if I replace the radiator and cooling fan, is it possible for me to get the car drivable without the ac condenser (I think??) Or are there going to be open connections or something where it should be?

Ordering a radiator for a discontinued vehicle over the web sounds risky . A local supply could at least match what you have.
Do you not have relative that might have a extra vehicle you could use for a month . If you order a part then have to install you could spend at least a week or maybe more. Also selling it to a salvage and not spending money on parts and antifreeze plus unforeseen other parts might let you rent something for a month.

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If you’re just looking to get a month or two out of the vehicle, call local used auto parts yards and see if any have a radiator/fan assembly.

That’s the cheapest route.


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The Ion was a GM Delta car, it’s basically a badged engineered Cobalt/HHR. Parts aren’t hard to come by. An OEM radiator is about $90 online, new condensor is about $120 for OEM, half that for aftermarket.

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When I replaced the radiator on my Corolla, the replacement radiator had a quite noticeable reduced density of cooling fins (by appearance anyway), but it cooled the engine just as well as the original. I only paid $90 new, and it is still working 6 or 7 years later. Maybe radiator technology has improved, don’t know. I expect you may be over-thinking this problem. Go with the replacement radiator. Try to buy it from a local source rather than via the internet if at all possible, so if you have problems you can return it and get another quickly. You don’t need much AC in the winter, and come next summer I expect you’ll find you still have working AC and no more overheating than you had w/the original radiator. One problem you may have beyond that is the fan/fan motor. It should still be available as a new part, but it may be quite expensive. If so, you local auto recycler is probably the place to find a replacement for those parts. Unless they are damaged in a crash, not common failure items.

If the AC condenser is actually part of the same assembly as the radiator in that make/model, I’d guess you can find that configuration for a reasonable price as an aftermarket radiator too. If so, just get the version that matches your existing radiator.

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If the rad. it trashed, so is the a/c condenser. You can’t just put in a new one and have it work. Moisture has found its way into the system so you need an air drier also besides having new refrigerant and oil.
Forget about the a/c and find a used rad if you want to keep it running , hopefully til spring.


Yep, the AC repair will be expensive, and optional; the radiator and fan a relative bargain, and necessary.

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Agree, but used radiator, or just go to NAPA and get one, or a radiator shop. They’ll be pretty competitive on price. They are pretty cheap now. Yeah just do without air. We did for years and still got our windows defrosted.

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what covers the radiator? grille? bumper cover? headlights? hood? the animal had to hit something before it bent the radiator. is this thing even road worthy?

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I actually just replaced the whole cooling fan last month with a part I ordered from ROCKAUTO, it fit perfectly, no issues. All 3 parts radiator, fan, and ac condenser are a total less than 200 on the website, so I think I’ll just order all 3. And since obviously it’s a well used car at 324k miles, it has been through some stuff, it’s missing the bottom half of the bumper (which is all plastic) and the animal I hit was a huge beaver which was the perfect height to miss the actual bumper and ran right into the condenser and radiator, such is my luck…

i think there is a lower core support that holds the bottom of the radiator? that the radiator is not hanging freely. it has to sit on something. i suppose that will be looked at when you change the radiator