Did I really need to replace my radiator in my 2001 Honda CRV

2001 Honda CRV 4 cyl All Wheel Drive Automatic 162,00 miles

In December 2008 a deer hit my car causing damage to the left front panel. Liquids emptied to the ground but I was able to drive home and to the shop the next day. The car was repaired with only the replacement of the reservoir over the radiator. Yesterday, I took the car in for an oil change; the second since the accident. I was informed that I had no antifreeze and that the radiator was cracked and needed to be replaced. For 8 months my car never overheated or caused me any trouble even though I did periodically notice a smell near the engine when I exited the car after a long drive. My question, is it possible for me to have driven 8 months with a cracked radiator; is it possible the repair shop overlooked the crack? Did I ignore something that could have caused the crack.

Thanks for you help!!

Yes. It’s possible.

When you hit a deer,(which isn’t fun), it can cause apparent damage. And those are the things that are immediately fixed. But it can also cause what is called subtle damage. And those are things that don’t show up immediately but show up later.

Besides, at 162,000 miles, the radiator is probably due for replacement anyway.


Thanks. But how could I have no antifreeze in the radiator and yet the car never once overheated in the 8 month period? What was cooling the engine?

It is “possible” you drove for 8 months with a cracked radiator, but it’s more likely the crack developed more recently, like between the last oil change and this one.

Age and mileage can cause a radiator to leak. This may have nothing to do with the deer impact, and it certainly isn’t your fault.

You might consider getting in the habit of checking things like the oil, coolant, and transmission fluid periodically, to prevent catastrophic damage.

Also, CR-Vs with all wheel drive need to have their rear differential fluid changed on a regular basis. Has this been done?

You had coolant in the engine. Or the engine would have overheated and seized.

You may have been lucky enough where when you brought the vehicle in for the second time, the leak was noticed and it was found the coolant level was down.


No. What is "rear differential fluid? Is this a major or minor cost?

It would be a good idea for all of us to open the hood now and then, especially after important repairs. The OP isn’t the only one who wants to keep it closed. I have been trying to ignore an anti-freeze smell for a while now. Time to wake up.