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Ford Fiesta Transmission and radiator trouble


I have a Ford Fiesta SE (5 Speed manual transmission) with 64K miles on it. I just had a new transmission installed at a dealer under warranty (Waited 8 months for the part and battled with Ford and the dealer. About a week after getting the car back (with the new transmission) the Radiator had a catastrophic failure and sprayed coolant all over the engine bay. I turned the car off before it over heated and had it towed back to the dealer.

They are saying that this just happens with time and temp changes. The car has been regularly serviced and was tight, with no leaks before the transmission was installed.

Dealer wants to charge $550.00 for the new radiator. Could the recent service be related to the failure of the radiator. Could they have messed with it to make it fail? am I being too paranoid?

Thanks in advance for the answers!

am I being too paranoid?


Sometimes when a transmission is replaced, the engine/transmission needs to be lowered slightly.

In order to do this, the hoses between the engine and the radiator need to be disconnected.

If this is required during the replacement of the transmission and isn’t done, the radiator can be damaged.


Tester, interesting. I’m going down to the dealer tomorrow morning to take a look. Any clues I could look for or questions I could ask to tell if this may have been how it was damaged? Should I take it to another mechanic before getting it fixed? Would they be able to tell if this is how the radiator was damaged? Thanks!

Age has as much to do with radiator failure as mileage. Can you tell us the year of the car?

Look at where the radiator hoses attach to the radiator. They’re attached to plastic tanks on the radiator.

If the damage is at these connections, the plastic necks for the radiator hoses are cracked.


it’s a 2011, so 5-6 years old

One more piece of info, the dealer stated that the radiator was leaking from a bottom corner

Bottom corner could be where a hose attaches.


One idea, take the car to a radiator repair specialist and get their opinion. They work with radiators every day and might be able to spot something that would be evidence the radiator was damaged rather than just a normal time/miles-failure.

If there’s no clear evidence-based conclusions though, best bet is to assume the radiator’s number was up, forget about it, and just have the radiator replaced. It’s not worth the grief to worry about the cause.

On some econo-box cars it is very easy to replace the radiator. I replaced the radiator myself on my standard tranny no-AC Corolla. $100 for the aftermarket replacement radiator and 2-3 hours of my diy’er time, including flushing the re-filling the cooling system with fresh coolant. No special tools required.

Thanks for all the replies. I 'm looking forward to taking a look in the morning. I may try a radiator specialist (if the leak in where the hose attaches to the radiator) or take it to a different mechanic to try and find a better price. Thanks again!


This is a difficult situation. Chances are something got damaged when they were doing the repair. The problem is there is no way to know or prove this. So you probably have to live with this and pay for the repair. I would just not do it at the dealership.

Similar problems are more common on older cars. You need a new strut but when you start working on the car more parts start showing their failure.

Well, the Ford dealer said it couldn’t possibly be their fault, and refused to offer a loaner even if I did get the work done there.

So I had the car towed to a radiator shop to have a look and then replace the radiator. We’ll see what they find.

I am done with Ford, the customer service at the dealers and especially the phone/customer service manager system they have in place is appalling. They just send you around in a loop claiming that you should call someone else, no one seems to have supervisors or any power to resolve issues. I am fed up. Looking forward to getting rid of both of my Fords.

@BearOak You do not really have a ford problem but more of a dealer problem. As for the loaner vehicle that is consistent with most repair facilities.

Yes, you don’t have a Ford problem . . you have a dealer problem.
As a Ford dealer partsman, I’d say they DID damage something because that whole engine/ transaxle must be removed from the car to replace the transaxle.
In doing that they hit something.

YES call someone else . . FORD. . the 800 number is in the owner’s manual.

I’d take it a step further and state that you do not have a dealer problem but have a technician problem instead.
It could be that the job was done by the one guy in the shop who made a mistake and if done by anyone else there may have been no issues afterwards.

Unfortunately, one guy making a mistake can often tarnish the entire lot.

Thanks for all the comments and advice. I have been through the Ford Customer Service 800 number, didn’t go anywhere. I took the car to a radiator specialist and am getting a new one installed. He said there was no obvious damage to the radiator, but will inspect it carefully once he removes it.

Seems like it’s probably just a coincidence, frustrating to have a fairly new car with these problems though.

At least the transmission was replaced under the 60k warranty, even though it took eight months to get the part, and meanwhile I was driving a my “driveable”/ gear grinding, difficult to put in reverse, car. By the time the transmission shipped the car had 64k and is now out of warranty.

I actually really like Fords new cars and trucks, and still think they are some of the best you can buy, and have two fords currently in my household. I was in the market for a new Ford to replace the other car. This experience has turned me off.

Just got the Fiesta back. They showed me the radiator. There was a very small dent/punture, dead center on the back (engine side) of the radiator that cause the leak. Other than that the radiator was in good shape. Anything that could have bumped it from that direction would have hit the fan first.

The mechanic at the radiator shop guessed that somehow a small rock bounced up between the fan and the radiator causing the damaged and puncture. And that it is a strange place to have damage, but this was just bad luck.

I got two tickets for powerball tonight, so I hope my luck will improve.


Sounds like they may have overstressed the seam where the lower hose attaches to the radiator bottom tank. A radiator shop should be able to tell you whether it was ready to fail anyway. Generally if they were ready to fail it’ll be obvious once the radiator is removed.

That would be a very unusual place for a rock to bounce to and with enough velocity to puncture a radiator.
I’m wondering if during the process a tool slipped…

As to Ford’s 800 number; they’re a bona fide joke.
Some years ago I posed the question to the knowledgeable (?) folks at that number about whether Ford Motor Company recommends a transmission pan drop before flushing the fluid.

Pretty benign question, right? I could never beat a simple yes or no answer out of them. They stick to the “see one of our find Ford dealers who have the most up to date equipment and factory trained technicians who can handle any problem” mantra.