Preventative Radiator Replacement at 185k?

Hi all:

I have a '07 Rav4 with 185k that is still running with the original radiator. Do you know the typical lifespan of a radiator? Is it a crazy idea to replace it as a preventative measure? I’m also thinking about replacing the water pump so I can use this car for a few more years.

Thanks for your help,


Not if you’re planning to keep this for a few more years, I suspect it’s served you well so far so put in a new radiator and water pump. At around this mileage we had our mechanic do a full inspection as if we were buying the car. They didn’t find much that we didn’t already know but it was worth the $100 back in 2007 to feel comfortable keeping mom’s 90 Mazda Protoge for a couple more years.


It depends on how well you maintained the coolant. If it has been cared for, just leave it alone. I’ve had cars with hundreds of thousands of miles without a radiator problem. You might want to examine the plastic tanks though to see if any cracks are developing. Those are areas of concern.

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Thank you guys for your suggestions. I think the coolant was drained/filled when the water pump was replaced 85k ago. Looking at the plastic tank, it looks fine without any crack. I know radiator failure is somewhat of a crapshoot. So far, there is no coolant smell under the hood. I think I’ll ask my mechanic to do a pressure test when this car is due for service. And I’ll take it from there. :slight_smile:


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New radiator hose? Yes.
New radiator? No

I have owned several cars with radiators that started to leak around 200,000 miles. Typically, the leak was from the crimped edge where the metal meets the plastic side tanks. There is a rubber gasket in there, which simply wears out from repeated heating/cooling cycles.

Also, while doing routine maintenance, such as replacing the radiator hoses and heater hoses on an old car, it is very common to discover that the plastic fittings on the radiator have deteriorated–especially the upper hose connection. The plastic becomes discolored and soft, and pieces of it break off, or sometimes the entire fitting breaks off when attempting to remove the hose.

I would definitely replace the radiator, radiator hoses, heater hoses, water pump, and thermostat on this vehicle–using only quality brand-name parts. For aftermarket radiators, there’s only one brand I trust–Denso First Time Fit. And as always, you can get these parts online from Rock Auto for less than half of what you’d pay in a big-box auto parts store.

Those components are replaced when they leak or make noise.


Thanks for your tips! This is very helpful. I didn’t think about the hoses and thermostat. Any suggestions on the brand for the hoses and the water pump?

I’ve looked at Rock Auto. The prices (with shipping) are quite good! Thanks!

Yes. For hoses, choose Gates, Dayco, or Continental. For the water pump, choose Gates, Dayco, or Beck/Arnley. For the thermostat, choose Gates, Four Seasons, MotoRad, or Beck/Arnley. Same for the thermostat housing, which should be replaced if it is plastic.

That’s SOP for a friend that loves his BMW 5-Series sedans. Part of his preventive maintenance is to replace plastic parts after about 5 years. If they are also available as metal, he replaces them with the metal version and forgets them.


The nice part is that generally and if you’re attentive, the first signs of a radiator leak are decrease of radiator fluid and steam appearing when you’re at a stop light.
The bad part is that if you’re inattentive the cost could be a new engine.

I’ve got a 1954, a 2004 and a 2005 all with the original radiator but they’re all “play toys” and I’m “very attentive” so I’ll replace when the time comes.
On the other hand, if my wife or kids we’re driving the car, for less than $100 I’d replace the radiator, all the hoses and anything else that may be iffy.

Tow charges run about $300, engine replacement about $5,000 and the cost of a good nights sleep…priceless!

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Just saying there is other stuff besides a radiator that could cause problems. Like the heater core. Where do you stop is my comment?

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I always recommend a new radiator especially at that age. The back of the radiator is where to check for missing fins between the tubes. You should tilt the top of the shroud back to check. If any are missing, it’s time for a new one. If you see white and green residue on the outside of the radiator, be suspicious.


On my wife’s Sonata at around 110K miles I noticed that I had to top off the overflow tank a bit once in a while, Didn’t think much about it as it was 105 Degree summer heat in LA. Then we had the lock down and wife parked the car for a few days at a time and low and behold, there was a tiny spot of coolant under the car. I had to track it down as the new cars have everything covered and turns out it was the top plastic seal on the radiator. So, changed it and all is fine now.
My point is, do a pressure test and you might see the leak. Otherwise, just keep an eye on it. A catastrophic failure is unlikely, unless you ignore the obvious signs. At that mileage, you have to keep an eye on everything (well, maybe even on a brand new car!).
You can not predict the next thing that will go wrong with it. I have noticed quite a few Toyota’s having a leak from the steering rack at that mileage.

Especially if the OP lives where they use salt on the roads.

Hi all:

I just want to give you an update. I bought a radiator, hoses, a water pump, and a thermostat for my mechanic to put them in the car. After putting these in the car, he said it was a good call. The plastic part of the radiator was falling apart! He also replaced the alternator because of the age.

Thanks, everyone for your suggestions and comments!