Need a new radiator....please help!

civic
honda

#1

Last week I got an oil change and a transmission service. Dealer says I need a new radiator cap, but that radiator is fine. I get a new cap.



Yesterday, my car severely overheats, and it smoking, etc. Coolant all over the inside of the hood. Friend says that they think the cap wasn’t on tight enough. We fill it with water, let it run, and the fan turns on (fan didn’t turn on before because fluid was too low) and it seems ok.



I take it to the shop to get more coolant and let them know what happened. then they say my hoses are old and not bendy, and that I have a leak in my radiator. They want $350 to replace it with a regular part, or $250 for an after market part.



Is this a reasonable price? I am not good with cars, so I wouldn’t be able to do it myself. I drove this morning, and temperature stayed below the middle mark, and I drove about 15-20 miles.


#2

CamaroGirl, been having a bit of trouble lately? The radiator may have been damaged in the latest overheating episode and sprung a leak, perhaps not. You need to clean up the mess. Get the cap on properly, refill with cooland and run the car for a bit keeping an eye on the coolant levels. If it stabilizes in a couple of days and there is no indication of more leaks you maybe OK. If the radiator is leaking you will see the coolant level dropping and a need to top it off. Radiator hoses, and heater hoses, get softer when they are hot. If they are old replacing them with new clamps is a good idea.

Right now you have coolant all over the place and you need to cool off the car and calm yourself down and then really get into what is going on with your car’s cooling system.


#3

I am guessing an older car? If so use aftermarket and make sure all the older hoses are tight.

$250 is quite reasonable to replace a radiator for parts and labor.


#4

CamarroGirl, replacing the radiator cap is often the first step taken since it is cheap. It is likely you didn’t need a radiator cap at all.

Take the car to another shop that isn’t a dealership. Have the whole cooling system pressure tested to make sure the right part(s) get(s) replaced.

$350 for a new radiator and hoses is a good price, but their troubleshooting skills are lacking.


#5

Dealership did a pressure test, and said that the radiator was definitely leaking gushing is the term he used.

Money is super duper tight, so I am trying to shop around for an affordable place.

I drove this morning, and car did not overheat. Dealer said that water and coolant was in a little puddle below my car. I did not drive the car yesterday once I had refilled it with water.

Is it a wait and see approach if the temp stays in the middle, or do I get a new radiator asap.

Yes, I am having car woes at the moment and feeling like I just want to cry. :frowning:


#6

The first thing I would recommend is to replace the water in the cooling system with the correct 50/50 mix of coolant and water. Your engine will definitely run hotter with only water in the cooling system, and at this point, I don’t think that the cylinder head is likely to withstand any more high temperatures without warping.

You may actually still need a new radiator, but at least using the correct coolant/water mixture can help to prevent more damage before you replace the radiator. Incidentally, ANY mechanic can replace a radiator. If money is tight, you should think of an independent mechanic, rather than the dealership.

And, getting a second opinion from that indy mechanic just might wind up giving you good news. Just because the dealership claims that you need a new radiator does not necessarily mean that this is true. A second opinion would be a good idea.

Don’t begin the conversation with the new mechanic by asking his price for a new radiator.
Just tell the mechanic that the car has run hot on a few occasions, and see what diagnosis he comes up with.


#7

Sorry, I forgot to add that my car is a 2000 Honda Civic…so yeah, almost 10 years old. I have not had a radiator replaced since I have owned the car, and I am the 2nd owner.


#8

If you do end up with a radiator, confirm that the part comes with a lifetime warranty. That way, if the radiator leaks again, you have recourse on the part. At retail (parts store, not dealer), your radiator costs about $100. Be prepared for a hose replacement recommendation at this time, also, since they are probably also 10 yrs old.


#9

the dealership made it sound like the hose and radiator would be $350. A friend is willing to do the repairs for me. What is a good price to pay for both the hoses and the radiator? What if I cannot get genuine honda parts? Even their parts they only warranteed for 10 years.


#10

I am a bit upset at the moment. I drove my car over 15 miles home, and the temp gauge stayed below the middle mark.

I go to the dealership, and the guy who had told me it would cost $350 for a radiator, then told me that it is $605 or so, including labor, and $550 if I use a non-honda part. :frowning: He also says that I have a small leak (rather than the gushing leak he said earlier). A friend said I didn’t have a gushing leak, and that the hoses were old, but not brittle like the dealer said. Sigh. I asked about leak stop, and the parts guy said it would just gunk things up.

Not sure what to do. I can buy a radiator at an autoparts store for about $100 bucks. I think that is the route to go.


#11

Stop leak isn’t recommended and rarely works. Can you see the leak? There should be an obvious puddle on the ground after the car’s been sitting overnight.

The dealer price is high because their labor rates are higher than most places, and because they use factory parts rather than less expensive aftermarket ones. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with aftermarket parts and there are plenty of cars on the road using them without any trouble.

Assuming you do decide to replace the radiator, doing it yourself is the most economical route to go. It’s a somewhat messy job but not difficult. New hoses are recommended since there’s no telling what condition the old ones will be in after they’re removed. Also, the spring-type hose clamps tend to weaken with age so I’d recommend replacing those with screw-drive hose clamps; they cost very little at any auto parts store.


#12

No big deal on not using genuine Honda parts. Get a good aftermarket radiator; go ahead and replace all the hoses, and if your friend is willing to help out, be generous on what you pay him. I would also replace thermostat at this time, too.

Second opinion with pricing info from an independent mechanic is still a good idea.

I also think that Tester and a couple of others recommend using pepper as a temporary stop leak. I have never used this, but trust the folks who recommend it. If the leak is not a gushing one, then it may work for a while, while you sort out things.


#13

Well, when I look at the radiator, it is pooling fluid on top of the radiator, that then leaks downward. I think it is loose somewhere at the top…near the long line from one side to the other (sorry, I don’t know the right word to describe it. Basically, where the cap it, the top of the radiator that meets the front of the car seems to be where there is moisture).


#14

CamaroGirl, you are settling down some but still need to stay calm. Now the dealer says your leak is a small one. Can you find the leak yourself? With the car idling and warmed up a leak shouldn’t be that hard to find. A gusher is certainly easy, a small leak is harder but just follows the drips.

Perhaps you had so much coolant sparyed around the engine that it took awhile for it to drain away and evaporate. Now in your calmness find out if you really have a leak. If you do is it a hose? Is it where the hose connects to the radiator? Sometimes a leak is a quick fix depending on where it is. Don’t buy a new radiator until you are sure you need a new radiator.

If so, get one for $100 bucks and plan some time for the job. It is messy and the Honda has tight spaces to work in. Didn’t you have some cooling issues you posted about before? All these things could be related. You need to find the problem, before you can fix the problem.


#15

Thank you, Uncle Turbo.

I didn’t have any cooling problems, except for the overheating issue yesterday. I have tried to look for the hole, but on the top of the radiator, near the car, all along the side, there is moisture, but the huge hose doesn’t seem to be leaking. It seems like it is leaking along the seal that is right in front of my bumper. Does that make sense?


#16

It makes sense, but it hard to evaluate long distance. The top of the radiator is made of plastic I believe. If the plastic is cracked that pretty much means a new radiator. Sometimes the area where the hose connects can leak. That can be a bad hose, loose clamps, or a crack in the fixture the hose connects to. If it is the hose or clamp the fix is easy. If it is the fitting the hose hooks onto, if it is made of metal sometimes it can be soldered or welded. If it is plastic a fix usually won’t hold up over time.

As long as you are watching the coolant level and the leak isn’t a gusher you should be able to figure out the exact location of the leak. Sometimes it is an area that is hard to see, but with rags and following the drips you’ll find the source of the leak.

If you haven’t already noticed, coolant in a warmed up motor is plenty hot. Don’t take off the radiator cap when the car is warm. Be careful poking around looking for the leak. If you see spraying coolant be careful not to let it contact your skin.


#17

Honda uses plastic tanks on the top and bottom of the radiator core. The radiators on my 2 Hondas failed at 14 years of age (tank separated from core).

There are after market radiators with LIFE TIME guarantees.

IF your Homda is a Civic, you might be able to get a radiator for under $100. I got one yesterday for $67. You might try NAPA.

FIX IT SOON! Don’t risk the engine!

GOOD luck!


#18

Driving your Civic with a coolant leak is risky . . . overheat it just once and you might toast the whole engine. If you have a radiator leak (should be easy to see on this model) changing it is an easy job on this year Civic. Also might want to change the cap and thermostat (a little harder to get at but still easy to change) and flush the coolant, re-fill with fresh AFTER you’re certain that the leaks are taken care of. Hoses going bad at 10 years is questionable, but since you’re there do them anyway, might be spongy by this time, might not . . . but you’re right there. I found a radiator for less than $100 for your CIvic, look around. Rocketman


#19

My friend looked at my engine while running, and there doesn’t seem to be any obvious gushing leak…however, the seam where there is plastic cover (sp?) against the core (sp?) seems to be seeping along the seam, and pooling on the top of the radiator.

I have been keeping a close eye on the thermostat and making sure i keep enough fluid in the radiator. As long as I drive minimally and keep coolant in the radiator, should I be ok until I can get a new radiator (sometime this week)?

also, the quotes I have received are $550 and up! Nothing cheaper. :frowning:

Is the only option for this a new radiator?


#20

Yes, a new radiator is really the only practical option, unless you think you can pull your own radiator at a junk yard and install it yourself.

Yes, if you keep a close eye on the coolant level and fill the radiator when it needs it, you should be able to wait to get the new radiator installed.