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Cracked radiator, some questions.

acuraowneracuraowner Member Posts: 57
edited March 2014 in Acura
My 97 Integra with alittle over 100,000 miles has been diagnosed with a cracked radiator.

I am pretty car saavy and know quite a bit about cars. This was very unexpected and really quite unusual for me. I have seen neglected radiators rust out, or get so plugged up they cannot function, but for it to be cracked is new to me.

The fellows at the Acura dealership said it was quite normal for it to happen as the upper and lower half of the radiator are made of plastic and the thermal stress eventually wins the upper hand.

I have taken pretty good care of my cooling system, I had the coolant changed at 60,000 then again around 90,000 (which is the recommended service per the owners manual).

Also my last question is, could I have them salvage my current radiator as I am not in the financial position to shell out $560 for them to replace it with a new unit.

Thanks in advance


  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    You might want to seek an estimate for repair/replacement at a radiator shop. I have used one in my locality for several problems over many years and many vehicles. You would likely get a better price.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Yes, I think it's quite within the normal use range for a radiator. The older metal radiators might not have cracked so easily but they could corrode, etc.

    I don't think you have any complaint with your car on this point. Sounds about like the expected life span.

    The price of replacement is debatable, though, and you may do better elsewhere.
  • jgmilbergjgmilberg Member Posts: 872
    100K miles on a radiator is good, my brothers Astro van radiator was only good for 55K miles with plastic tanks and aluminium core. I guess if you don't have the cash you can just monitor the coolant level every time you get in the car.

    If you know about cars and can spin a wrench or two change it yourself. I checked on and a new radiator with a lifetime warranty for your car is $180, so for less that $200 including the new coolant you get the car back on the road for about 1/3 the cost of the shop. It's a fairly easy job that can be done in a few hours. The hardest part of the job is usually loosening the auto trans cooler lines, after that it's a cake walk.

  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    Great advice, and pricing information. Here's where the load meets the road: Most people just won't go the distance and try to do a big parts change themselves. I agree with you, they should. The other choices are further debt, or doing without-- I guess.
  • hondadudehondadude Member Posts: 6
    This is pretty good miles before the crack happened, there are lots of after market replacements available for around $150. thats the way to go on this one. My personal feelings are that the fans may come into play becuase on the accords the crack will happen right above where the fan mount post is. as if the long term vibration weakens the top tank. mid 90 legends would always crack right where a long bracket held the throttle cables, again the vibration question? If, or rather when, I replace my 92 accord radiator I think I'll try rubber mounting the fans. best of luck I hope this helps you.
  • 0patience0patience Member Posts: 1,712
    As was said, replace the radiator. Repairing it will give you nothing but headaches and sells your radiator for $131 plus $9 shipping.

    If you find a lower price, contact them and they will beat that price. They use top quality radiators, such as Modine, AC Delco and Koyo.
  • q45manq45man Member Posts: 416
    The only thing you have to watch out about aftermarket rads is that they MUST have the same fins per inch as oem rads otherwise they will not cool as well and the stablised temp may be 5F higher.
    They may or may not be built as well aluminum thickness, etc but usually you can get 50k out of any of them.

    On critical cars [V8] we have seen this 5F rise in back to back testing factory vs cheapo aftermarket.

    The other thing to look for is does the radiator have a foam surround to block the air feedback around the edges bottom etc. Failure to replace this will raise the idle temperature. Make sure the system doesn't allow air to sneek around.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    Do you remember the "good old days"?

    Back in the late sixties when I was a struggling student, there were a lot of old fashioned radiator shops around.

    They would take your plugged up, leaking radiator and do a "rod and repair" on it.

    I remember if we pulled the radiator ourselves and brought it in they would charge us 15.00.

    Can you imagine how the enviromental watchdogs would like the acid tanks they used to soak the radiators in?
  • tbonertboner Member Posts: 402
    Remember one of those shops, I lived about three or four blocks from Tom's Radiator and Small Engine repair.

    When a little old lady in her new (mid 1980's still RWD) Olds Delta 88 decided she had been stopping at stop signs enough, and she wasn't going to do it anymore, I hit her car with my 66 Chevy hard enough to total her car.

    I drove home about a mile with the fan stuck in the top tank of the radiator, while a tow truck took away her car and hubby picked her up in a matching Delta 88.

    Took out the radiator and hopped on my bike, radiator in hand. I think I paid about $25 to have the radiator fixed and maybe another $20-25 for new antifreeze and new flex hoses.

    I kept the rest of the $500 check her insurance co "gave" me and kept driving the car, dent and all.

    Sometimes I miss living in a small town.


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Remember how radiator shop guys were usually very edgey? You had to sort of tip toe in there and ask for advice, or they'd tend to want to bite your head off.
  • nerdnerd Member Posts: 203
    Your story sounds familiar. I pulled the radiator on my '59 Chevrolet, carried it to the radiator shop, and got back a "nearly new" one for $15. The following year, I had to do the same with the heater core. Both repairs came with a lifetime guarantee. This was in the late sixties.

    Ah, the good old days when the amateur (and living-in-poverty college student) mechanic could do a lot of work on a car with only a cheap set of hand tools. All I can do on my wife's new BMW is check the oil and tires (and the BMW service manager tells me not to bother with the oil - the computer monitors the level as well as the pressure).
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    we had three brothers in the busines when I was a kid, and they fought like wolverines... first one broke loose and started his own shop, then the other a couple years later. I'd go by on my way to the library, or church, or something, and there would always be another window broken ;)
  • 0patience0patience Member Posts: 1,712
    Ha ha,
    Those were times when you didn't need more than a test light, timing light and some hand tools to work on rigs.
    You pulled the radiator, threw in the back of the truck and they brazed it up for you and off you went. Radiator caps were pretty much 7-8lbs max. Now they are 15+lbs.
    Temps were a maximum of 195F and that was considered very hot. Now, 200-212F is pretty standard.
    A pickup radiator was heavy enough that you had to make sure you had a good grip on it to pull it.
    Now, you could use one hand to pull them out.
    You could run a vehicle on stright water if you had to. Now, that isn't possible without overheating the vehicle.

    We used to tank the radiators, rinse them off over the drain and then crimp off the tube that was leaking, braze it and stick it back in the tank and pressurize the radiator to chek for leaks. If no leaks, rinse it off over the drain again, let it dry and paint it. Yep, there is no more rinsing it off over the drain, the chemicals hardly work at all and a large percentage of radiators are plastic and aluminum.

    I could go on and on, especially about the ignition system. LOL!
    The first vehicle I ever actually got to tear into was an old Dodge pickup with a flathead 6 cyl. Used copper straps to the plugs. LOL!!!
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    that was some old Dodge, the old tractors at the steam threshers reunion got off that in the 20s and onto insulated wires.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    One of the older boys in my high school went into the radiator shop business as an employee after he graduated in 1959(?). Some years later he was the proprietor, and one of his classmates eventually joined him. I still go down and visit a bit, and do business there as well. Things are certainly changing as vehicle cooling technology keeps advancing.
  • 0patience0patience Member Posts: 1,712
    I don't remember exactly when they went to the insulated wiring, but I am pretty sure the early 40s Chrysler flathead 6 had the copper straps.
    I don't really recall what vehicle it was, but I do remember reaching down to put my hand on the engine while it was running and hitting that copper strap. It left a very definite memory. LOL!
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    guess they just got a deal on it, then. tuneups at 1500 miles, consisting of using brasso polish on the ignition straps?
  • wainwain Member Posts: 479
    get a good metal radiator like a Modine
    thats what I do
    most die at 110,000 miles
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    Are Modines, or other metallic radiators, available for most every application, or are the plastic top of very recent vintage not replaceable with metal?
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    and was aluminum, so that's one that I have had installed that Modine didn't have a retro design for in 1999.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    It's catch as catch can, I reckon, on replacing plastic with metal; i. e., when you need one, check to see if it is available at that time! >:^/
  • bburton1bburton1 Member Posts: 395
    Had to replace a radiator on an 80 accord while living in Mpls. Had a buddy who worked for a local franchise auto store in mpls and he told me to call their distributor. Well they had a huge warehouse and got my all metal replacement radiator and it was made in Thailand. It had more capacity than the one it replaced and no problems for the remaining 5 years I had the accord.

    Had to replace it because the fins on the radiator had dissolved in the road salt and it would not cool enough on hot days-had to drive all the way back from So IA with the heater on full blast in 98 degree weather-so if you are having cooling problems-turn the heater on high-worked for 200 miles.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    I used the heater trick you mentioned. It was Texas in late August, 1971. The car was a 1969 Renault R10 that I was pushing along at 75+ in unlivable hot weather, headed for Wichita Falls.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    The radiator shops would sometimes try to upgrade us to a "four row" heavy duty core. "Desert Cooling" they called it.

    Opatience, I never say the brass plug wires except on my Model A.

    I do remember trying to adjust the points on my '62 Impala SS. Those were the ones with the trap door on the side of the distributor cap.

    While the engine was running, I stuck an allen wrench through the little door. I managed to miss the hex hole but I hit the points instead!

    Of course, I was lying on top of the engine when this happened!

  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    There's nothing like a high tension coil wire to sharpen up your attention under the hood! I've had that revelation, too.
  • bburton1bburton1 Member Posts: 395
    Was trying to get the dip stick back into a 50 olds rocket 88 with the engine running-touched the dip stick to a plug and the other part of my body touching the car thru my summer pants was the head of my p***** on the fender-not fun-my friends just howled.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    sounds like you used the same test instrument I once did to see if an electric fence was live. yup. that technique has been replaced by another ;)
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    I just got back to this thread and read your post. I am ROTFLMAO !!

    I once saw (and heard) a guy do that to himself!

    He ran circles around the car screaming obsenities for a good ten minutes as he held himself!
  • acuraowneracuraowner Member Posts: 57
    Thanks everyone for your advice.

    I went ahead and replaced the radiator with a OEM Acura/Honda radiator. To the tune of $700. The crack finally showed itself on my way home from work (car nearly overheated). It is right where there is a seam in the plastic upper tank.

    I really find it amazing that it is quite usual for this to happen right around the mileage of my car. It makes me wonder...what is the point of the 30k miles coolant changes.

    By the way. My car is actually running alittle cooler (according to my temp. gauge) since getting my new radiator.

    Thanks for your insight.
  • tblazer503tblazer503 Member Posts: 620
    the point of changing out your coolant is so that you remove the sediments in the cooling system... that way you dont build up the sedament on the walls of your cooling lines, thereby clogging it. If you ever change your timing belt, pull off the water pump(and replace it) you will be surprised as to how much gunk builds up on it in 60-90k miles... Both of my cars had them changed out at or around 100k, and one actually snapped the shaft by the bearing. when we looked at the fins, they were disgusting... of course the antifreeze was in good shape... on my other one, looked decent, but there was still some build up on it...
    Besides... If i remember correctly, the Honda's dont have the greatest amount of slack on their hoses... and they have all the mounts off the tanks... =o)
This discussion has been closed.