I’m trying to help my dad out with his 1993 Volvo 960 (approx 130,000, mostly around-town miles) that appears to have a cracked radiator, and the result seems to be coolant mixing with the transmission fluid.
The car recently had a transmission replaced by a local mechanic shop. For a car with an in-line 6 cylinder motor, this vehicle couldn’t get out of its own way – particularly when it was cold. They said the transmission was shot and replaced it for like $900 or something with a used one.
After the replacement, the car seemed to be running in top form: even better than it had run in years. Fast forward a couple of months, and it developed an overheating issue. The car can barely drive a mile without overheating.
My dad took it to a shop very close nearby (different than the guy who changed the transmission) because the car couldn’t make it much further without the temperature getting too high.
This second shop diagnosed the car has having a cracked radiator. They quoted him something like $1,100 for the work – money he doesn’t have. They were going to replace the radiator, the fan, and the hoses which were now squishy and soft after having the mix of radiator/trans fluids coursing through them. So he drove the car home, probably less than 1/2 a mile.
Now, I’m not sure if the first replaced transmission was a result of the cracked radiator or not. The first ship never mentioned it, and they are a pretty reliable bunch. They’ve worked on my dad’s 1973 VW Super Beetle, very much to his satisfaction. I also had examined the transmission fluid a week or two after the replacement, and it was completely normal. (He leaked some very clean fluid in my driveway, and I told him to take it back to them, and they fixed the leak for free).
So, I can change the radiator, fan and hoses myself. But I figure the transmission lines, the transmission itself and the cooling lines all need to be flushed out. There does appear to be the strawberry milkshake-like goop in both the radiator (which I drained), the coolant overflow reservoir, and from what I can see, on the transmission dipstick.
Any advice on the order of operations here? I was thinking I could replace the radiator and fan and leave them disconnected and then tow the car back to the shop to have them flush out the transmission and lines, and then the radiator flushed as well?
I wish I could do the flushing of the transmission myself, but I guess I don’t really have the equipment. I’m not typically hesitant to work on just about anything on a car (I’ve done head gaskets, replaced clutches, suspension components, lots of brake work, etc.), but this is the first time I’ve encountered this kind of fluid contamination.
I’d just like to see if there’s a way I can help salvage this car (which is a really cool vehicle, but which isn’t worth that much) without breaking my old man’s piggy bank.