I have a 2004 Toyota Celica. My room mate has a 2002 Honda Civic. The parking situation here is horrible. At this complex we have to park front to back instead of side by side. I had to leave early one morning so he had parked at the end of the parking lot so that I could get out. As it was early in the morning, and I wasn’t awake yet, I backed into his car. A few weeks later a mechanic discovered a crack in his radiator. He swears that it was caused by me hitting his car. I sat there’s no way. First of all, I was backing up, so I was going very slow. Secondly, the only damages were some paint scrapes. How can something that low of an impact crack a radiator?
Pictures please. If you cracked the radiator then most likely there will be other damage, ie., grille, bumper, etc.
I think you should call your insurance company and tell them what happened. They can inspect the vehicle and tell you whether the collision broke the radiator. If it did, you can have your insurance cover the damage.
Strangers on the internet aren’t going to solve your problem. Your insurance agent does this for a living. It’s what you’ve been paying insurance premiums for all this time.
If I were to speculate, I would note that the radiator in my Civic cracked when the car was about 10 or 11 years old, and it wasn’t in a collision. However, speculation isn’t going to help you. You need evidence.
Your roomate is a bonehead. I would back into his car at high speed actually crack the radiator, if your going to pay for it you might as well break it.
What was the mechanic doing when they discovered the cracked radiator? Sounds like your room mate should have bought a toyota.
"the only damage was some paint scrapes"
That is very subjective. That is what may have appeared but until it’s inspected by a mechanic, body shop etc. you just don’t know. Besides, if you “weren’t awake” when the collision occurred, your idea of speed is subjective too. We here would have no way of knowing. Just backing up does not mean you were not driving fast enough to cause significant damage.
The impact could crack the radiator without a lot of other body damage, but is the radiator actually cracked or is the gasket between the radiator cap and the core leaking? Often mechanics will refer to this as a crack, but its not and it would not be caused by the impact.
Aluminum core with plastic tank radiators are pretty weak, especially if they are old. If you hit his car just right it could cause a crack. The mechanic sneezing when he tries to remove the radiator hose could, too. No way for you and your roommate to solve this. I agree with @Whitey, get the insurance wonks involved, they do this for a living.
You can buy a new radiator at Rockauto for $45. http://www.rockauto.com/catalog/x,carcode,1386277,parttype,2172
If you can fix it cheaply, just pay the money. You backed into his car and may have cracked the radiator. If it runs into $200 at the shop, split the cost. It probably isn’t worth getting an insurance company involved, the deductible is probably too high.
Bottom line, it’s very possible you were responsible.
I have a suggestion
Pay for the radiator replacement
Not because you are definitely to blame
But because you want to maintain a good relationship with your roommate
And because it’s possible that you did damage the radiator . . . hard to disprove, anyways
Thank you all for your feedback. Basically there were about 15 feet between cars. I had cut the wheel slightly so it was my passenger side bumper that hit his driver side fender. I was not going fast at all.And yes the mechanic said that it was a crack by the cap. I am just pissed because he drives that car like a bat out of hell…going down roads with potholes at 50mph. But in his mind, none of that nor the fact that the radiator is over 10 years old is the cause. But, you all are right…there is no way to prove or disprove it.
I completely agree with @db4690. You did back into his car and you did cause " some damage". You may be getting off cheap by paying for a new radiator. Repairing body damage YOU CAUSED could be more expensive. You hit his car and that has nothing to do with his driving habits. He should be PO’d a you for not offering to fix any damages immediately !!! If he had backed into your car, would you not expect a little consideration for the damaged he caused ? His car could be 100 years old and all beat to " $&:@" and you should still be responsible. The radiator may be a compromise. Pony up, help with the repair, not because you believe you did that particular damage but because you were at fault for hitting him and it’s the right thing to do.
I hit a car backing out of my driveway, the car pulled up and parked opposite of me on a snowy day as I was trying to get over the windrow left from a plow. Claimed windshield on the right was broken due to me hitting left front bumper. My insurance company denied the claim, the worst part is it was a doctor attending the same church as I. Just because they go to church on sunday does not mean you should trust them. I think the crack in the radiator is unrelated and would offer $100 towards repair, and loose a frind, who is not a friend.
The thing is, radiators, the metal corrodes and the plastic degrades, so they can get pretty frail over the years, esp with a 10 year old car. It’s like walking on a roof. You can walk on a new roof with not much problem usually, but if you trample about on a 10 year old roof which has experienced 10 long hot summers, expect some leaks to appear next rainstorm. Same with radiators. The engine compartment is extremely hot, and the coolant can get quite acidic over time. It’s corrosion city in there! Just leaning on a radiator that old can crack it, often where the plastic part meets ups with the metal part. You could argue that a 10 year old radiator isn’t worth as much as a new one I guess. So you shouldn’t owe the entire amount, as even if you did crack it, it would have probably sprang a leak anyway at some point. But I expect after-market Civic radiators are pretty cheap, and since you did bump his car, best plan is to just pay-up. If your roommate thinks you sincere, he may offer to pay half.