Coincidence or Cause?


Two days ago I replaced the fuel filter on my 96 Oldsmobile Acheiva. It’s been clogged for 9 months and the car could barely run. Today I pulled the coil block to check the plug boots, I was going to replace the plugs and wanted to make sure I had the right socket. I never got to the plugs, however, because the radiator plastic cracked after about 20 miles of driving.

Is there anyway I caused the crack? The car was running beautifully after I changed the filter and replaced the coil block. The radiator is 11 years old and the car has 190,000 miles. Is this just a terribly frustrating coincidence? The radiator fluid was changed less than a year ago, could it have been improperly thin, causing overheating and cracking now that the car is no longer running so lean?


One is not related to the other.

Change the rad.


It’s plastic and like all plastic, heat and time does it in.

You should also make sure if your car has an airdam (NOT the same as front valance) that it is still in place.
The dam is a small strip of plastic underneath the radiator and its job is to force air upwards through the radiator.
A missing dam can cause the engine to run hotter and the excessive heat can crack a plastic tanked radiator.

My son went through that a few years back after busting a dam off on a critter on the highway. Temperatures spiked and the radiator split.

I would also point out that if you’ve been driving around for months with a clogged fuel filter you can more than likely expect a fuel pump failure in your future.


Thanks, I’m glad it’s just old and not me. The fuel pump was replaced a couple years ago, so hopefully it still has some life in it. It took me a while to figure out it was a $15 filter. My mechanic replaced an O2 sensor and a couple other parts but to no avail. I was just sick of putting more money into it and not fixing the problem, and it was still driveable until the past few weeks.


Maybe you breathed on it in the wrong way.

After 150k miles/9 years anything can break on a vehicle.


The only way I can think of that you might have caused this, is if you leaned on the radiator while doing the other work. That should not really hurt the radiator, but since it was pretty old the plastic was getting brittle and something was going to crack it sooner or later. It’s just as likely a total coincidence.