2003 Elantra with overheating issues

I’m looking for advice on whether to repair or not. My elderly mother has a 2003 Hyndai Elantra with 100k miles on it. We bought it from a shady car dealership (mistake we’ve had to learn a hard lesson from) last year. Since then, the radiator has burst, then a few months later the radiator tube burst. Both times the mechanic checked for head gasket leaks and said he found nothing.

Today, the bypass hose burst open. It’s $160 to fix, including coolant flush. At this point, she simply needs a car to get her to and from doctors and senior activities – she is extremely low income and can’t afford a new car. I’m struggling with what to do. Why would all of these things go wrong if not for a faulty engine? The mechanic says it could just be bad hoses because it’s a 12 year old car … is this possible? The car does not overheat until these things end up going bad. It does tend up heat up quickly, but it doesn’t go above where it should be ever.

Any advice is much appreciated – I know the smart answer is to junk the car and replace, but since she cannot do that, I’m at a loss as to if fixing this is a bad idea.

Try replacing the radiator cap.

The radiator cap has pressure rating at which point the cap should open and allow coolant to go the coolant reservoir. If the cap fails and too much pressure builds in the cooling system it can cause radiators, heater cores, and hoses to burst.


Thanks! We actually fixed the radiator cap 6 mo ago along with the radiator.

That doesn’t mean you can’t get a defective radiator cap. It’s happened to me.

I got so fed up that I took my radiator cap pressure tester to the parts store. And out six radiator caps one was found to hold the proper pressure. And these were Stant radiator caps. Which I thought were high quality.


Oh wow, good to know. I’ll mention that to the mechanic. Unfortunately I live across the country and my mom can’t check her car herself – I assume if it was faulty, our warranty would fix I’d hope!

I wanted to add – today when the hose burst, the car stalled at a traffic light. A few minutes later it started up enough to pull over, but this hasn’t happened in the past. Could this be due to the overheating issue?

I think your only option with limited funds is to get the leaks fixed and maybe change the rest of the original coolant hoses, too.