Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Need an opinion

I am to take a road trip within the next week, but recently my vehicle had been running hot and leaking coolant. I only discovered this problem when I turned on my A/C. I diagnosed the problem that the seal on my radiator was giving way when too much pressure built up and that’s what caused the coolant leak. I was wondering if anybody knew if this trip would put too much pressure on my coolant system with the consistent driving. The trip is a 18-19 hrs drive, and I’ll only be driving one-way. There won’t be a return trip. Can I wait to get my radiator replaced when I get there or will I be risking it if I drove with the radiator in this condition?

If you are planning to replace the radiator before is better. My opinion yes you will be risking it.

To paraphrase Dirty Harry:

Are you feeling lucky, friend?

You might make it, but then again, you might not. If you need radiator repairs, get them done first and have a pleasant 20 hour drive. If you wait, it might be a 100 hour drive and you will have to pay for hotel and food while you wait.

Your radiator might not need to be replaced. The pressure builds up as the temperature rises and the coolant expands. Too high and the radiator cap allows coolant to escape. Was it overheating and that’s why the “seal” leaked? If the car’s temp gauge (or a red light on the dash) didn’t show it was overheating, maybe just the cap needs to be replaced rather than the radiator.

Wouldn’t you feel better knowing this was fixed correctly before setting off on a 20 hour drive?

Mustangman, coolant didn’t come out the top though. it came out the side. When I used a pressure test kit on the radiator, it got to around 10psi and coolant just sprayed out the side of the radiator again. Like I said, it never happened until I used my A/C. I haven’t used my A/C since then, and it hasn’t leaked nor got anywhere close to running hot.

This one’s easy.

Replace the radiator before the trip.

You know it needs replacing.

Why risk a major break-down on a long trip like this?

Let’s put it like this.

What if a pre-flight inspection revealed that the engine in the aircraft had a major oil leak.

Would you climb on board that plane and go on a long flight?


Definitely replace the radiator before making any trips… or even driving to work too many times. A small leak of that type can instantly turn into a hemorrhage, and even if it doesn’t the failure of the system to hold pressure will result in the system boiling over. Pressurizing is done to raise the coolant’s boiling temperature high enough for the engine to operate without boiling over. Yours will do so unless you get it fixed.

I changed a radiator on a truck of mine just because I saw a crusty green area that I knew was on its way out. Copper oxide has a distinct color. After removing it, I pushed ever so modestly on the green spot with my finger. My finger went right through. I caught it just in time.

Yeah, on mine the coolant is spraying out right where the clips clamps down on the radiator to form the seal.

Your radiator is clearly toast

Replace it now

I recommend going to one of those mom and pop radiator shops

They usually have radiators for all the common vehicles in stock, and they often have the lowest prices. Sometimes by a large margin

The good news is that you know exactly what the problem is. Many posters here aren’t so fortunate. :smiley:

Get it fixed properly by a qualified shop. In my area there are at least 4 shops that specialize in this kind of work. Make sure the whole system is checked out; don’t tell theme to just replace the radiator.

@trbrown716 you seem to be questioning the value of piece of mind. Won’t your trip be much more pleasant knowing that everything is in good working order instead of constantly worrying, will it hold? will I make it?

Do you think it will be less expensive at the next location? Do you have a good mechanic where you are now? Do you know a good one at the destination?

@keith Don’t know any mechanics where I’m at now, because I haven’t had any repair issues up until now. Back home, where I’m headed. ETS’n out the army(yay me). I know a ton of good mechanics. I’m kin to some, lol.

Peace of mind still has a lot of value. Do you have an auto hobby shop on base that you can use before the big day?

But now I understand you a little more (lot more actually) and I’m pretty sure what you are going to do. If you check the coolant frequently enough, you will make it.

Replacing the radiator in an Explorer should not be to difficult…You can buy a radiator online, delivered to your door for a reasonable price…

Not to be redundant, but if you drive it this way the coolant will boil over due to the system’s inability to hold pressure, the engine will overheat, and instead of having to replace the radiator for a few hundred bucks you may be replacing the engine for a few thousand.

With respect, I think you’re making a decision that you’ll regret.

Sincere thanks for your military service. Were I able, I’d happily do the job for you for free. It’s the least I can do for a man who’s willing to go into combat for our country. I’ll do anything I can for a military man.

Naw, my gut was always going with not driving it without replacing the radiator. I just wanted a better opinion if it was possible to drive that far without causing more damage.

Good to hear.
Sincere best.

The problem with plastic tanked radiators is that they can suddenly spit wide open and instead of a pinhole there may be a crack a foot long. It’s best to repair it now rather than be sitting on the side of the road somewhere and kicking yourself because you didn’t.

@“the same mountainbike” thanks for your support of the military too.