Fix it or ditch it?

Our only - beloved - 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid took a huge hit the other day. Apparently the radiator hose “exploded” killing the radiator, and potentially causing major issues to the transmission. We have impeccably maintained this car since “birth” in hopes of getting another 2 years out of it (9-10 total). It is currently at 180,000 and the Honda dealer/service center we take it to says it will be $1,200 to replace the radiator, dead hoses, and flush the transmission before we will even know for sure if the transmission is shot. If it is shot that will be another $4000 (apparently only Honda makes hybrid transmissions thus the $$$).

So do we trade what is left of our car in, or fix the radiator and gamble that the transmission is ok. If it isn’t do we press on and fix that to? What are the chances we will get another 2-3 healthy years out of a 7 year old hybrid with 180,000mi?


Believe it or not there is nothing special about the Hybrid radiator. As a matter of fact you can take this car to a local radiator shop and have a new one installed for a few hundred dollars.,carcode,1409879,parttype,2172

$1200 for a new radiator, hoses and trans flush is crazy. Shop around.

I think something is wrong here. Have you continue to drive even after the incident ?I would replace the radiator (around $190 online u /u ) and the hoses then go from there.

Just a note. If the transmission cooler line internal to the radiator has burst, and caused cross contamination of the two fluids. You then could be looking at a new transmission, and huge repair bills. However it is not too clear by the OP post, and only suggest that a radiator hose burst.

Oh no… we have not been driving it. It is sitting at the shop waiting for us to decide with to do next. Has anyone had any experience with our car - Civic Hybrid… what kind of milage have you seen? Is it likely to keep puggin’ away if we get the radiator (and if needed) the transmission fixed?

Forget the dealer. Try an independent shop with cheap aftermarket and cross your fingers on tranny. I would never put $5k into a 2003 civic.

I only know what the service guy told me… which is what I relayed above… I know the radiator hose burst, I know that as a result the radiator is dead. And I was told that they can’t tell if the transmission is sick too, without first fixing the radiator.

I have bad news; the car will not win a drag race when it is fixed. So have the radiator taken out and drain the transmission fluid. If there’s water in it, don’t bother fixing the car because it has too many miles on it. If you don’t find water, flip a coin.

Maybe I’m not reading this correctly . . . but you’re worried about a new radiator, lines and hoses and contamination of transmission fluid due to an accident. I assume that the car shut off in the accident and wasn’t driven after that. How then . . . could any amount of transmission fluid be contaminated by coolant if nothing was pumping either coolant or transmission fluid as the engine was shut off? I would first drain the transmission fluid and let it sit in a glass jar . . see if the fluid and coolant separate. I doubt that any coolant got into the fluid. That being the case I would drain the remainder (as much as you can) and re-fill with new fluid. Change the radiator, hoses and lines and re-fill with new coolant. The price you have been given for a new radiator is way too high, IMO. Another thing . . . don’t you have insurance to cover this accident? Good luck! Rocketman

Maybe the huge hit was road debris?

Didn’t think of that . . . how about it OP, what type of accident and what was damaged? Rocketman

It wasn’t any sort of accident… I was simply driving along on the highway when the car started “revving” when I tried to pass another car or speed up. A few minutes after that started it seemed like the car was loosing power. I got off the closest exit. When I tried to accelerate from the stop at the end of the exit the car started hiccuping/hesitating when I put my foot on the gas. I pulled into the nearest business parking lot and turned off the engine and let it cool a minute. I was able to back up just fine, but as soon as I put the car back into drive the hiccuping/hesitating was much worst, at which point I called AAA to come rescue me and my car.

I guess you didn’t notice whether the engine overheated or not?