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Nissan Altima - Replace Radiator or Not?

Hi. I have a question. I have a 1999 Altima with 104,000 miles. I have tried to maintain the car as I want to keep it as long as is practical. Recently I had a transmission fluid change and coolant flush. When I picked the car up, the mechanic said that I have a small leak in my radiator and that the radiator needs to be replaced. He said it could turn into a big leak with no warning and that I should replaced it.

This was one month ago. Since then I have checked the coolant level weekly and can’t detect any change in the level. If the coolant is leaking it must be at a very slow pace. My question is, should I replace the radiator? Maybe part of me is annoyed that he told me this after I spent the money to flush the coolant, so part of me is skeptical.

Thanks in advance!

I’ll bet the radiator is plastic end jugs and an aluminum core, correct? I’ve gotten it from many sources that these radiators last about 7-10 years. Yours is on year 11, so it probably is showing signs. I just replaced mine in my 2000 Explorer, and it had a similar leak for over a year. I smelled slight wiffs of coolant over that year, and suspected a leak, but could not find it. One day, I could really smell it, and so could the wife. As I did a walk around, I noticed coolant dripping from under the bumper. Open the hood, and the leak was very apparent at the seal between the plastic and the aluminum. At that point, I just went ahead and replaced the radiator. I got lucky. A 1990 Mazda I once owned had a plastic jug just blow apart one day at about 8 years of age. I was away from home and had to have it towed.

I usually comment about radiators and I usually say to change it. Once you do have it changed, look at the back side of it and you may be surprised at how ratty it looks.

Yes I believe it is plastic/aluminum. Thanks for the reassurance, I wasn’t sure because even though my mechanic I think is honest, I saw no obvious sign and didn’t know whether to believe his statement that it could have problems with no warning. Thanks again.

If it’s leaking you need to replace it. Have him show you where the leak is.