Broken radiator looses all coolant?



i have an '07 SUV that has a broken radiator, and all of the coolant poured out of the bottom. not realizing this (mechanic called and said it was ready)the vehical was driven approx. 6-7 miles and would not go more than 2mph (literaly) before shuting down. i understand that these new vehicals have safty devices in place that will shut the engine down before it burns itself up. but can this safty device work if there is no coolant to read temperature from? also what are the other problems that i need to question? i am of the mindset that the transmition was also not cooled properly and was overheated as well.

Before the vehical was showing any of these symptoms, my wife had already entered freeway traffic and was driving approx.70mph. i would like to know what else i should be concerned about. i am not sure if i will have problems in the future with this vehical because of this problem.


your story is a bit confused. You drove your car away from the dealer, not knowing the coolant was all gone. There were no trouble lights. The car would not go faster than 2 mph but you continued to drive it 6 miles (that’s 3 hours). Why didn’t you immediately turn around and drive back to the dealer? 2 mph is slower than a walking pace! How could you drive at that rate for 3 hours?

Then your second paragraph contradicts the first, it says your wife drove the car away from the dealer at 70 mph.

which is it?


it sounds like you are up a creek without a paddle as it were.

i hope the dealership helps you out on this one. i would think this would be a warranty issue, but, then again, you did drive it for 6 miles, up to 70 mph, and then when it stopped you KEPT driving it at 2 mph just to make sure it was ill. so, if it were me i would NOT tell the dealer THAT, just that it died.

the safety devices you refer to are the indicator lights, or “idiot” lights. the only problem with them is that usually by the time you see / notice them it is too late.

just why was this car at the mechanics anyway? what was the original problem? what was done, and how does the radiator fit into the equation?


the vehical is my wife’s, she was involved in a minor fender bender that pushed the condenser into the radiator which caused the radiator to break open among other minor body damage. the vehical was towed to the dealer where it was repaired. however they missed the broken radiator (and this was the lone reason for the tow). they called and said the vehical had been repaired and was ready for pick-up.


Well it would appear that the car was driven when it should not have been. As soon as you have an indication of overheating, you head for the next exit or pull over and stop. If there is a sign (like a flashing light) of a serious problem, you pull over and stop as fast as you can safely do. Failing that all damage is likely going to be on your dime.

It is not very clear exactly what happened from your message, but I would suggest: If it had been just worked on, contact that shop, if not, then find a shop to evaluate what the current situation is. Expect some very expensive repairs.

Few if any cars have an automatic shut off, they rely on the driver to see the flashing light and to react in a safe way. If it had shut off on the freeway it might have resulted in an accident which could have been even worse.


There are no safety devices in place to shut an engine down before it burns itself up. The fact the vehicle was overheating and would not run more than 2 MPH means you have some engine damage and possibly transmission damage also.

The first step should be performing a compression or leakdown test on the engine and the second step may be to prepare for a whale of a battle on responsibility.


thanks for the info, the dealership has already accepted responsibility for what has happened. i am concerned with how much life was lost from this vehicle because of this and if there is anyway they can completely repair ALL of the damage that has occured, and how will i know either way.


If a compression test shows a piston ring problem (very common when overheated) then this means a new or rebuilt engine. Period.
The transmission fluid should be carefully inspected as to discoloration and smell. A stall test and fluid pressure tests could be performed on the transmission but the engine will have to be running to do this.

They’ve accepted responsibility, but let’s hope the responsibility involves more than radiator replacement, filling the coolant, adding some heavy oil, and sending it out the door. A compression test should be step No. 1 and if they don’t do this then a brush-off may be in the works. Hope that helps.


very much, thanks


Now that I have read most of the replies, it looks like you probably should expect future problems but nobody knows when they will happen. If it runs for a few weeks, it will probably run much longer and I guess that I would recommend that the transmission fluid be changed. The fluid probably didn’t get overheated badly enough to matter, but you never know. Hopefully, the engine will be replaced for free. If it can be repaired or runs without repair, you’ll have an aueasy feeling when you drive it.


go to the dealership, ask the dealer if the oil has been drained out yet. if the oil hasn’t been drained out, get a pint sample and have it tested at an oil test facility. look in the yellow pages, or call a diesel shop where they have their samples tested at. (they may even give you a plastic sample bottle and cap to use to collect yours) keep these results to yourself. they will show, among other things: metal in oil, oil breakdown (heat related), bearing sediment, and other indicators of damage to the engine.

personally i would press for a short block replacement, to remove the engine from the “nagging doubt” about it in the future. the dealership DOES have insurance for these kinds of things, make sure you benefit by getting a factory rebuilt engine out of the deal.


Is this a Ford product? I know that some of their vehicles, since at least 1999, have “Fail Safe Cooling” If it is a Ford, open the manual and look for this. IIRC, the head temp is what is measured so coolant is not necessary. (The system would not be worth much if it required coolant.) The cylinders are selectively shut down and pump air which aids in cooling. It also reduces power considerably. If it gets hot enough it will shut the engine off completely.

I suspect other manufacturers use similar systems, but I do not know.

I would get a sample of the trans fluid as well.


thanks to all, very informative, and helpful. The vehical is a 2007 ford expedition el with 10,300 miles and the uneasy feeling about ever driving this vehical for any distance outside of town has already set in. have not received any feed back from the dealership yet as to what the finding are. hopefully i will hear something soon.


you will NOT receive any feedback from the dealership. the only time you will get ANY info is when YOU go there and ask. and you may well have to sit outside the head service writers office and wait to grab him to find out. although the dealership may step up to the plate and do a complete recovery of your vehicle and return it to like new condition, it is up to YOU to ensure this happens.


Now that I see this answer, I think the Ford dealer should put in a new engine, no questions asked.

You absolutely should insist on it. First, it was their mistake. Second, you have no way of knowing how much damage was done to the engine (and don’t expect your dealer to give a straight answer to that one). Third, this was a practically new car.

I’d camp inside the showroom floor until they get this right. Well, okay, that’s an exaggeration, but you get the point.

Don’t back down. Seriously.