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Is this a fair price?

My daughter commutes to college using our 2001 Ford Escape. The car has been well maintained, oil changes, part replacement, etc. It now has 150,000 miles. I would like the car to last at least 2 more years till she finishes college. My mechanic, used for over 10 years, is good but not inexpensive. He says the car needs a radiator replacement plus all hoses need to be changed. I a little unsure what is meant by “all hoses”. He wants $640 for the radiator(parts and labor). He says the material cost on the hoses is $550. The total for both (radiator and hoses) is a little over $1800. This means approximately $610 for hose labor. Is this a reasonable price? Since I can’t afford both right now, I plan to have the radiator done and do the hoses in the future. Does this sound reasonable? Anything I should be looking for here that I don’t know about? Thanks.

$1800?! Sounds like someone is getting hosed alright.

All the hoses could mean both radiator hoses and both heater hoses. On some cars there are expensive metal tube and flexible rubber hose combinations that are bent to follow the contours of the engine and chassis that can be quite expensive to replace. The question is, why are they needing to be replaced? Did you bring it to him with some issue or is this his idea of preventive maintenance? You should get clarification from him as to why these things need replacing.

Regardless, get an independent second opinion from another shop. Depending on why he says they need to be replaced, you want to inquire at the second place without predisposing them to doing the exact same work. For example, he says you have rust on the lines. Go to the next place and ask for an engine cooling system condition assessment. See if they recommend the same work.

Since this is a guy you know and trust, ask him why the price is so expensive. Ask him if he can offer an alternative. Post back with the answers.

While the price sounds high to me, me may have a good reason of which I’m unaware. And he may have a much less expensive alternative if asked.

Any reason given for the work? I have a '96 with many original hoses, they don’t wear out nearly as fast as they used to. As for the radiator, is it overheating? Leaking?

There’s nothing special about the radiator hoses. They’re simple molded radiator hoses. If your mechanic is charging $1800 for the replacement of the radiator and these simple hoses, if they’re needed, I wonder how much they gouged you for previous repairs.

Get a second opinion/estimate from another shop.


+1 with all those^ comments.
That’s very steep.

@twinturbo asks good questions. Why does it need to be replaced? Is it some sort of preventative maintenance thing?

Is this the V6 or 4cyl ?
Ford EO parts or parts house ?
WHY do all these things '‘need’'replaced ?

The V6 has more thatn just two radiator hoses and a couple heater hoses.
When I tally up the 10 part numbers at Ford list price I see $584.73 but easily discountable to , say, 467.79. ( that’s probably what he pays, marked back up to list )
there are hoses to the recovery reservoir and back, there are many hoses on and around the water pump, multiple pieces of heater hose, etc.

A Ford oe radiator lists at 311.91 plus antifreeze.

IF he’s using OE parts then question ths labor time, labor rate, and the reasons.

Old car, old hoses …I can see it possible but that’s not what you said it was in the shop for.
You can squeeze any hose and if you see surface cracks all over, it’s time to replace.

The labor on the hoses puzzles me. What is the flat rate on labor there? Possibly the AC condenser must be removed and replaced to get the radiator out and evacuating and recharging the AC would add about an hour to the time, BUUUUUT, the total seems high to me down here in the boonies after checking the after market price on parts. The total is less than $300.

I’m assuming there’s something wrong with the radiator that requires replacement. This wouldn’t be unusual in a car of that age and miles. I think he’s saying in his experience with this car (or with Fords) of this age, its less expense in the long run to replace all the hoses along with the radiator. Otherwise the hoses will spring a leak one at a time over the next few years, and you’ll be nickled and dimed, replacing them one by one. And the inconvenience, etc.

I can add a couple of things for reference at least. First, the original radiator sprang a leak on my early 90’s Corolla a couple of years ago. I purchased a new radiator from a retail auto-parts store (O-Reilly I think) for $90 and installed it myself, and it has been working great ever since. I did need to replace on other hose at that time, the one from the windshield washer pump to the windshield sprayer thing. But all the other cooling system hoses were in excellent shape and were not in need of replacement.

Second, a lot of the times radiators can be repaired quite inexpensively by local radiator shops. This would be a good idea to consider if your car has more than the usual cooling requirements, for example if you live in a hot climate, have automatic transmission, and/or use air conditioning often, pull a trailor occassionally, etc. Why? The non-OEM radiators that you purchase from retailer auto parts stores usually don’t have as many cooling fins as the original so they don’t cool quite as effectively.

One other thing I’d recommend is to have the mechanic while doing all this is to verify the radiator cooling fan is working as it should.

Are the hoses all “original”? If they are then replacing them is a good idea. Any hose at anytime could start to leak and modern motors don’t do well if the motor overheats.

What is going on with the car? Why is the radiator in need of replacement. Is it clogged, cracked, leaking, what? Hoses are now specifically bent and sized for each car, making them much more expensive. These hoses also last a long time and allow maximum water flow. Still at over 10 years old the rubber in the hoses can get soft, less flexible, and more likely to burst under pressure. You’d really need to get prices for the hoses your car needs. Prices can be obtained at the parts counter at a Ford dealer, or from a local auto parts store.

The estimate seems high, but perhaps there is a reason?

The radiator was leaking for about a year now. I put a can of “stop leak” (forgot the name) and it helped but still needs to be replaced ( I am told). About two weeks ago the lower radiator hose clamp (plastic) broke. I was charged $178 for repair. This included anti-freeze. I asked if they replaced the hose, they said they put a nipple in it. I don’t know what that means. I think they do good work but are expensive.
Hoses are original. I assume they mean replace all hoses so as to avoid future problems. Based on these comments, another estimate on the hoses seems advisable. Thanks to all for your comments.

Yep sounds plenty high priced since the majority of work to replace the hoses would already be done with the radiator. You can go to and check prices to see but the last radiator I bought was somewhere around $190. Hoses were about $20.

Should you be needing a radiator, I’ve gotten several radiators from for several Subarus, one Acura, one Toyota and a Honda. They were perfect fits, delivered very quickly for just over $100, shipped.