Radiator and Frost plug

HELP! I am a single mum with a special needs son and my car has broken down and is in the garage. I know nothing about cars other than the basics, so I need advise please. The car developed a hairline crack in the radiator, so overheated. Stopped car before it hit the red, so confident engine ok…the garage has fitted a new radiator, cleaned the block etc. Now there telling me that after pressure testing, the frost plug is leaking and it will be another 3 hours labour to fix??? Are they taking advantage of me and making work, or is this a possibility? The car has gone from $500 to $1000…

It’s a possibility, sure, especially if you live in a state that gets cold, and you don’t keep the coolant mix at the proper ratio.

As to whether it actually happened, we couldn’t tell that without seeing your car.

The plug replacement is a possibility and labor can vary wildly depending upon which plug it is that is leaking. The plugs are cheap; it’s getting to some of them that is the problem.

Are you in a high labor rate area like Chicago, San Francisco, etc? Three hours of labor and a few bucks on a plug kind of points to an accessibility issue and a high rate.

Just an FYI, but with overheating and a radiator replacement involved, I would have done a compression test on the engine first just to make reasonably sure there is no damage.
Maybe quibbling a bit, but technically speaking the plugs are not frost or freeze plugs. They’re block plugs and the openings are used to clean up things when the engine block is manufactured.

These plugs usuall fail due to rust in older cars where the anti-freeze isn’t changed at the proper time (2 years or 5 years, depending on the type of antifreeze).
The antifreeze still stops the coolant from freezing, but the anti-rust properties wear out.
Just an example of how neglecting to do maintenance results in big repair bills.

year, make, model, mileage? Freeze plugs only cost a few bucks…They make expanding rubber plugs that are MUCH easier to install in tight places, but you still have to remove the leaking plug (or drive it into the block) before any new plug can be installed. There are more than a few vehicles where the engine must be removed or partially removed before repairs can be made, the plugs being completely inaccessible.

@Susieqr57 I doubt that the shop is taking advantage of you.

Here’s how it probably went down

You brought the car in, said the car ran hot, you shut it off and saw the cracked radiator.

Shop said, okay, we’ll replace the radiator and we’ll pressure test the system afterwards to verify the repair AND to check if there are other leaks.

Shop said, " . . . unfortunately, we DID find another leak from one of the freeze plugs."

It sounds like the shop is being thorough.

At least they actually performed a pressure test. Better to know now rather than later . . .

The alternator, power steering pump, etc. probably needs to be moved out of the way in order to replace that freeze plug.

I agree. This is totally possible. The fallacy is that “not going into the red” ,means there should be no damage. Any weakness in the cooling system is susceptible to failure when a car overheats, this is true especially if it happens several times yet never reaches the red. Red often means…it’s too late, while any over heating could be a problem depending on the cars age and condition.