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2013 Chevrolet Captiva Sport - 3 radiators in 1.5 years

Engine hot comes on, ac goes out then lights all stops until next time. It has had 3 radiators and a thermostat in 1.5 yrs. dealer keeps saying it is the radiator. This last one lasted 3 days before the lights came on. I now just keep driving thinking let it blow.

Stop going to the dealer, find a local independent shop. The dealer is throwing parts at the symptom instead of figuring out what the problem is. No way I would put 3 radiators in a car unless the replacement was defective. You may have a bad thermostat, leaking head gasket or other problem causing the overheat.

I don’t understand this. Why do you want to kill your engine? That will be very expensive to replace.

How have the radiators failed? Plugged up? Cracked plastic tanks? Leaks?

If the radiators are legitimately failing and if the engine is really overheating then fan operation needs to be checked and possibly the pressure cap which may not be allowing it to vent.

Replacing a radiator 3 times speaks to curing the symptom and not the cause of the problem. At some point (preferably from the beginning…) a mechanic should always raise the WHY question.

My mechanic sent me to the dealer for a diagnostic visit. That is the only reason I went. They told me it was the thermostat which I allowed them to replace because my mechanic told me to. He would have charged the same amount and he felt they would warranty the work if it didn’t work. It did not and they refused to do more because they felt it was a faulty radiator. My mechanic stated the the chances 3 radiator would fail were next to nothing. I replaced this last one because the one in the car was leaking. I am done throwing money at a car made in Mexico.

Seems to me that your mechanic is not really a mechanic if he doesn’t warranty his own work, but sends you to another shop (dealer) to diagnose the problem. Dump both, the dealer and the “mechanic”.


If the head gasket tests “ok”, try purchasing a different brand of radiator from a different vendor. For example buy an oem replacement from a Chevy dealership.

My guess however – presuming the engine compartment fans are doing their thing – is the head gasket has failed and it over-pressurizing the cooling system, causing the radiator to spring leaks.

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I vote for the head gasket being compromised and pressurizing the cooling system. This will blow out the weakest link and I am guessing that is the radiator.

Here is a test for you.

  1. LET THE ENGINE COOL DOWN OVERNIGHT! You want it TOTALLY COLD or this could be dangerous.
  2. Remove the radiator cap (DON’T REMOVE WHEN HOT!)
  3. Start the engine.
  4. Come around and look inside the cap.
  5. Fluid motion is normal. Bubbles are not! If you see bubbles, that is a sign exhaust is coming through the head gasket or a cracked block, etc.
  6. Coolant in bad head gasket situations after has an indescribable stench of automotive death! The smell is terrible and you will know when you smell it.
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Just a point of clarification. Sometimes you’ll see occasional big bubbles coming up through the coolant, sort of burping action. That isn’t usually a blown head gasket. It’s just un-bled air burping out of the system. Head gasket caused bubbles usually show up as a whole bunch of tiny bubbles, similar to how a pan of water looks when it first starts to boil. For an example see Test 3 in the utube vdo below.

I think the idea of scrapping the car over this is a bit of a rush to judgement. Your problem is not the car or the Hecho en Mexico part. It’s the fact that you have mechanics not asking the WHY question.

Three bad radiators in a row? No way.

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Did you know the Cadillac Escalade is made in Mexico? So much for blaming the UAW for high auto prices.

Thank you everyone for the info. My mechanic actually thinks it is the motor but wanted confirmation. He knows how cheap I am. I have decided to dump the Captiva. I plan to shop this weekend. Any suggestions what I should look at? Good to know Cadillac is made in Mexico.

A Toyota Rav4 is worth looking at. Also look for a new mechanic, either they are not very good or we are not getting the whole story

Something you might consider is that stop leak crap if you just want to extend the life and save some money. It is a goo you pour in the coolant and it fills the cracks or compromised gasket. I know people where it ruined the engine and others where their truck ran another 100,000 trouble free miles before they sold it. The stuff is really terrible if you ever want to fix it right but can extend the life a few months in most cases.

Spend $40-50 and then drive it to the scrap yard in a few months when it starts to give you trouble again.

Your mechanic wants a confirmation? What does that mean? He’s the guy who should be doing the confirming.

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If you are cheap then Cadillac should not be on your list no matter where it is made.
And I agree with other here , stop being cheap and find a real shop because this should not be hard to fix .

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Before writing any checks verify that the Consumer Reports Car Guide’s summary of function and reliability meets your needs for the make/model/year, and if buying a used car, pay to have it inspected by your own mechanic first. Called a “pre-purchase” inspection. Were I choosing myself I’d avoid turbo-engines, and prefer the reliability of a manual transmission.

My father had a car dealership all his life. I was taught that cars are tools to use as needed. I have driven all makes and models. I prefer to spend my money somewhere else. Just not that important. I will go get something else. Would be talking to Dad if he were still here. Hope you all have great holidays and drive safe.

Wouldn’t the radiator cap keep the system from over-pressurizing?