Is it worth it?

I have a 2001 Mazda MPV with about 90k miles. A few months ago, the radiator cracked. With steam pouring out, my wife drove it home. The mechanic replaced the radiator and determined there was no engine damaged. Thought I’d dodged a bullet. But today my wife noticed the AC wasn’t working. Then on the way home she noticed it was overheating. She stopped as soon as she noticed, but certainly the car had lost a lot of coolant. Never any evidence of leaking prior.

We’re back at the mechanic now awaiting a diagnosis. I’m worried that the cracked radiator incident was more damaging than the mechanic could tell (although the car has been running fine), and that the coolant loss is due to a cracked engine block.

If so, is it worth replacing the block? Or is that just inviting an endless series of repairs. I’m thinking the block repair has to be about $2,500.

I doubt the engine block is cracked. It may be that a head gasket suffered some damage. If the engine block was cracked it would not be something you would want to repair, you would need a new engine. If you did get the engine replaced, I’d have it done by a shop that specializes in engine swaps. If done poorly an engine swap can cause major headaches, but done properly are just as reliable as the original.

I think you should wait to hear from your mechanic before you decide the block is cracked. Why would you presume the worst?

Non-functioning AC combined with overheating could mean the cooling fan(s) quit working. That’s nowhere near a cracked block.

At only 90K miles this vehicle should have a good bit of life left, assuming, of course, that you’ve kept up with the maintenance schedule.

When you hear from the mechanic post back and let us know what he or she has to say.

A cracked stock block is an extreme rarity. More likely you blew a headgasket.

The diagnosis for this is really pretty simple, a compression leakdown test of the cylinders, or sometimes the mixing of the fluids is a dead giveaway. The cost of the repair will depend upon whether the head warped from the heat. That’s a distinct possibility here.

The best way to prevent a coolant leak from becoming a damaged engine is with a cell phone, a AAA card, and the knowledge that an overheated engine has to be shut down at the absolute nearest safe stop, even if that’s down off the soft shoulder on the highway.

Sorry to hear the story.

Rusty, the patron saint of Click and Clack, is smiling down on me. A busted hose clamp. Engine reportedly running fine. Pressure test good. Mechanic says he stands by his work… so no charge.