Antifreeze on Top of Radiator?

We have a 95 Honda Civic with 78,000 miles that is losing antifreeze. It has (antifreeze) only been seen on the top of the radiator by the local mechanic. They said there is low pressure. My daughter is replacing antifreeze almost everyday. Any suggestions? The cooling fans are not coming on at all. The fan behind radiator spins freely. I know the possiblities here, but am looking at the lowest cost fix to get her through the next year of college. Any comments would be appreciated!

Well, you say you already know the possibilities, so there isn’t much to add is there?

Nobody can give you a cost to fix amount as we don’t know exactly what is wrong.

All I can suggest is have a proper coolant pressure test done to find the leak and fix it.

Possiblities meaning head gasket,radiator,radiator cap, water pump…etc… looking for direction as where to start? The mechanic suggested getting a new radiator first. I’m wondering if this is good advice?

I would hope that your mechanic plans to do a pressure test of the cooling system before he decides to charge you for a new radiator!

In order of cost, clearly the cheapest solution is a new cap, then a new radiator, a new water pump, and…let’s just say that hopefully you will not need to have a head gasket replaced.

Thank you VDCdriver… That was what I was looking for…I’m also hoping it is not the head gasket!

although i cant give you any useful help, you mention that the fan spins freely. DANGER if the fan is broken (unproven) this may not be an issue, but the fans in modern cars can come on at ANY time. even with the keys off. you will lose fingers playing with it. be careful

there are several possibilities of problems. you mentioned them. they ARE possibilities. they can ALL be checked, and either eliminated or confirmed. what type of mechanic shop? independent, chain, or gas station? got references? ask friends, and neighbors? at this age car you don’t need to go to a dealer. any good local shop (with references) would do (and be more reasonable)

Thanks for the warning! This is a local independent shop. My husband says the shop performed a pressure test and it was “low” and that antifreeze was on top of the radiator. They then suggested the new radiator.

I’m not sure what “on top of the radiator” means. If the top section of the radiator is leaking, then you need a new radiator, but there’s no place for coolant to collect “on top” of the radiator.

You say the cooling fans are not coming on. There may be a problem with the coolant temperature sensor in the radiator, which controls the cooling fans, or the fan relay.

If the car is started and left to idle, the engine should come up to normal temperature, the thermostat should open, and when the coolant in the radiator gets hot the fan(s) should cycle on and off to keep the coolant in the radiator from boiling. If they don’t there is something wrong in the fan circuit.

The fans normally spin free unless they are energized, but they can start at any time and take your fingers off if you happen to have your hand in the fan. Don’t mess with the fans.

If the radiator is leaking the cooling system pressure will test low, and a new radiator will fix the problem. Someone needs to verify the leak.

Now, here’s a question for you: Has the timing belt on this 14 year old Civic ever been replaced?