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Radiator leak

I have a 1997 Volvo 850 GLT with a very minor radiator leak around the seam on one end of the radiator. Only actually leaks when the cooling system is stressed (i.e. idling in warm temps). It doesn’t appear to be leaking anywhere else, not the heater core or at any of the hose connections. My question is whether it is safe or worth it to add some stop leak compound to the coolant in order to seal up this minor leak. Replacing the radiator was quoted at $750.00 which seems like alot to me although since it is a turbo I understand it is a pain. Otherwise the car is in great shape, I bought it new in Oct. 1996 and have always done scheduled maintenance. Just completed the 2nd new timing belt, all new hoses and belts, brakes, etc. (130,000 mile total) I only drive back and forth to work in this car (7 miles each way)and am happy enough to just top up the coolant periodically - is this reasonable/safe?


If the leak is minor I’d just add coolant periodically to keep it full.

That does sound like a high price. It will probably get worse around the seam. I replaced mine recently because it was leaking worse and worse from the seam. I did it because it was a free replacement and fairly easy to do myself. The radiator shop said though that they leak from the seam over time and you can just replace the seam gasket - that radiator shops would have them. So when it starts to leak worse (not sure if seam leaks go from minor to big fast - mine seemed to go quickly when it went though) consider doing just the gasket yourself with some tips from a radiator shop. I would strongly advise against stop leak!

I just checked, they have radiators for your Volvo for $115-$145, depending on the specific equipment, so the part’s not too expensive. Who quoted you the $750? If it’s the dealer, it’ll be high $$. Find a good independent shop, get a quote from them (break down the parts vs. labor), check Autozone, etc for the radiator locally. See if you can get the cost down. Me, I’d fix it because if the seam lets go, it’ll cause your car to rapidly overheat, damaging the engine.

Thanks - I also found Nissen replacements on the internet last nigt at around the same price. The quote was from a ocal independant shop (listed on this website actually)who has done most of my major service. They tell me that it is mostly labor due to the effort to remove and then replace the radiator. Seemed high to me. I am inclined to fix it as I dont need this letting go in Chicago in the winter! Thanks.

If you’ve been happy with their work and prices in the past, then have them fix it. The labor can be high because of all the equipment shoe-horned into the engine compartment.

I think that is probably good advice - i just reviewed online instructions on how to remove and replace and it MUST come our the bottom. Also - I am not sure how I would disconnect and reconnect the oil and tranny lines although it looks like a snap ring wrench would work. Still - I would need to put it up on ramps…it looks like rain all weekend…etc. I guess I cannot complain as this car has given good service for almost 13 years. Thanks again.

You can also have the radiator repaired. It’s quite as simple as soldering the leak, or entire tube closed. I’d personally just replace it. I would get a second quote on the radiator R2. If you enjoy your water pump and the heater in the winter, don’t use stop leak. The stuff is junk and only a bandaid. Ever consider replacing the radiator yourself? For $750 you could buy everything, including tools, the factory service manual, radiator, even a rental car for a day or two.

Also check your transmission fluid for contamination (if it’s an automatic) The radiator also cools the tranny, unless it has a transmission designated cooler. If it’s leaking in one spot, it may be leaking elsewhere too, and into the transmission in never good.

Thanks - I was thinking the same thing. I am getting a second quote today. will keep you posted.

Went back and negotiated down to 490 including parts, labor and materials. Think I will go with that. Thanks everyone for the help.