Toyota 22R Radiator question. Help!

Two weeks ago, at 11pm, I was marooned by my otherwise trusty 1992 Toyota Pickup (4 cyl, RWD, Manual, rebuilt Toyota Certified motor with 40k) 1 hour from home and 1 hour from familiar help. Roadside assistance through AAA towed me to their recommended mechanic and I caught a lift back home so I could get back to work. My car was left 1 hour away in the hands of people I had never seen or met. Over the phone, their diagnosis was that I needed a new ignitor for my distributor to the tune of $700. They “kindly” added that my radiator was leaking and that would cost an extra $500. For an estimated $1200 they would fix the whole lot. “Leaking?” I asked “I’ve never noticed any temp. rise, nor have I had to refill coolant outside of the normal. How bad is it?” I double checked. “Well, it’s seeping from a small breach…a tiny hole” he said. Now, I am thinking that I am being completely ripped off so I say, “don’t worry about the radiator, just fix the ignitor.” Two days later I pick the truck up and drive it home, all systems apparently normal. The car has never overheated. Temp gauge has never reached more than half way under my ownership.

The following week I had to drive about 70 miles (each way) to go see a concert. 20 miles of that drive is over a small range of Mountains. Feeling cautious about the radiator, I’d decided to add some Radiator Stop Leak after doing some research. I did this just before I left for the concert. I followed the directions exactly and went on my way. Immediately, over the mountains I’d noticed my temp. rising rapidly into the red. After the mountain pass, I immediately pulled off to cool the engine. I sat for 30 min with the hood up and noticed that the coolant had bubbled up and out of the overflow. I replaced the coolant to the proper level and proceeded. While I didn’t overheat again, I had to move at about 50mph with the windows down and the heat blasting (in California Summer, eeehk).

The next morning when I drove back, again the temp was running hot. After the mountain pass, the engine temp. decreased to normal. Since then, I have driven it around town on errands and to and from work with no problem, no high temps. The cooling system is obviously working, but I am afraid to take it on the highway or on long trips until it is looked at. Problem is, I work for a non-profit and make very little money.

So now that you know my life story here are my questions:

  1. Can Stop Leak raise mean engine temp?
  2. Could there have been a temporary blockage/clog that’s now released?
  3. What should I expect to pay for a radiator fix on a '92 Toyota Pickup.
  4. Stop Leak “Guarantees” that it doesn’t clog pumps, radiators etc. If I can prove that it damage my car, aren’t they liable?
  5. I thought that a broken radiator wouldn’t even work on short distances…is it possible to have a radiator that only partly works?

You Want Answers ?

You’re driving a 19 to 20 year-old truck with a rebuilt motor.
It broke down and you were told that you need a radiator to end a leak.
You left the vehicle in the hands of strangers an hour away.
You didn’t believe it was leaking , but put in Stop Leak, anyhow[?].
You didn’t fix the alleged cooling problem, kept driving and overheated it.
You didn’t believe the repair shop.
You want to sue Stop Leak.

. . . The following week I had to drive about 70 miles (each way) to go see a concert.
. . . Problem is, I work for a non-profit and make very little money.

Is that about it ?

Who knows what happened, exactly ? Let’s say I believe the shop about the radiator. Let’s say I don’t think the Stop Leak cased the problem.

Don’t take this the wrong way, please. Since you seem to be pretty bright and have very decent writing and communication skills and consider the low pay of a non-profit to be a problem then look for a higher paying job. Instead of attending concerts 70 miles away, driving an antique vehicle, save your money for a newer one. Oh, and quit blaming others for your misfortunes.

5) I thought that a broken radiator wouldn’t even work on short distances…is it possible to have a radiator that only partly works?

This is quite characteristic of a slow coolant leak. It could be leaking from a radiator, hose, head gasket, etcetera, or a combination. 20 year-old vehicles sometimes do this.


First, no way an ignitor costs $700. Second, you should have had he radiator inspected by someone you trust before you used any stop leak.

I think you should contact AAA and report the mechanic who sold you this.

The first things you should have done when you got the truck home was (1) searched for evidence of the coolant leak with a good worklight, and (2) if you found none, pressure tested the cooling system. Stop Leak as an attempted response to the shop’s warning that you had a leak was risky at best. And, if the radiator tubes were already restricted by a internal buildup (expected in a radiator that age) than it could have further reduced the ability of the radiator to dissipate heat by totally plugging those tubes that were in the process of plugging up.

All bets are off now.

Solicit the assistance of a friend who’s handy with wrenches to help you change the radiator out. Shop around and you’ll find a replacement at a reasonable cost. The mechanical part is a DIY project. I’ve done a few of these on these pickups.

I’ll bet the stop leak clogged up some tubes in the radiator core, limiting the heat dissipating capacity. Going up the mountain pass generates a lot of heat in the engine, and the radiator is the only way to keep it cool, unless you tweak it a touch by using the cabin heater full blast. Using the cabin heater will give you about 10%-15% additional capacity, maybe just enough to keep it from full red.

I am on the same page as some, though I would think you should have the pressure test first, then leap to other problems.