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Old 07-09-2008, 05:06 PM   #21
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Advance auto parts under $100 for a radiator, less than 1 hour time to change it. Your mechanic is a thief.

regards
gary
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Old 07-09-2008, 05:36 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theholycow View Post
I've never done radiators, but I doubt they can be as confusing or intimidating as rear drum brakes. Possibly more physically difficult due to having to take a large item out of a small space.

Rear drum brakes, though...You open them up and there's a million springs and linkages and swivels and mounts and assorted small parts, and no indication of how they come apart nor how they go back together.
agreed! i've done 2 or 3 rad installs; i have yet to finish a drum brake install. never again will i EVER start one either.

so yes, generally speaking, a rad install is MUCH easier than drum brakes!
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Old 07-09-2008, 05:44 PM   #23
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C'mon there's less parts in rear drums than in the model kits you give 8yos for xmas. Just find a good pic of everything. Not really a first time wrenching project I guess, but if you've changed a few other things yourself, you'll cope if you keep a clear head and don't get flustered.
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Old 07-09-2008, 06:17 PM   #24
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C'mon there's less parts in rear drums than in the model kits you give 8yos for xmas. Just find a good pic of everything. Not really a first time wrenching project I guess, but if you've changed a few other things yourself, you'll cope if you keep a clear head and don't get flustered.
You think that might have been where we went wrong? :rollseyes: we did not keep a clear head and we got very flustered.

[stirkethru]Is it possible to do the thermostat first and then the rad? Maybe I'll tell the mechanic to just do the thermostat--then I'll do the radiator, thank you very much.[/strikethru] "We're brutally honest" what does that mean? What is the definition of an honest mechanic? Overcharging to me doesn't seem like honesty.
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Old 07-09-2008, 06:42 PM   #25
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Well some "professional" mechanics accomplish that attitude by not giving a damn, if it's your car, and you need it fixed yesterday, you sometimes have to try hard to achieve that state of mind.
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Old 07-09-2008, 07:12 PM   #26
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I've taken radiators off and I've done rear brake jobs. Changing a radiator is nothing compared to rear drum brakes. The only thing to watch when you change the thermostat is notice which way it goes into the housing if you have never done one and don't put it in upside down. It's not hard to tell the difference in the top and bottom of the thermostat. Changing the thermostat is simple since you are going to have the coolant drained anyway just take the thermostat housing off before you refill the system. If you ever have to do brakes again and you don't have a service manual and run into a problem just take the wheel and hub off of the other side to see where everything goes. That can easily be done if you have a set of jack stands or some blocks to rest the car on. That is the way I changed my first set or rear brakes years ago. I still don't like doing rear drum brakes but I'd rather spend an hour of my time than to pay someone $75-100 to do it for me. There is no way I would pay anybody $500. to replace a thermostat and radiator unless I was near death and couldn't find anyone else to do it for me. You can do it all yourself in a couple of hours and even after buying radiator, radiator cap, thermostat, thermostat gasket, new hoses and anti freeze probably save over $300. I've never had any formal mechanical training, but the first thing I do when I buy a new car is buy a $15-20 service manual from a parts store. The only thing I can remember having paid anybody to do on my cars in the last 10-15 years is put a clutch in for me. Then a friend of mine that worked for a Ford dealer service department done it for $125. on the side. I furnished the parts.
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Old 07-09-2008, 07:18 PM   #27
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Car was overheating.

Why was it overheating?

Under what conditions was it overheating?

How many times did it overheat?

Did it run hotter the faster your drove? Thats a radiator.

Did it run hot when you are sitting still? thats a cooling fan.

If it has run hot enough many times it could be a head gasket, and all the radiators on the planet will not help.

Thermostats usually go bad in the open position (but not always). When that happens the car runs too cold, or overheats within a couple of miles of when you start it.

How about telling us the symptoms, as precisely as possible.

Were you loosing coolant.

Did you see lots of bubbles in the coolant if you had it running with the cap off (head gasket).

Steam in the exhaust (head gasket)

The pressure from a blown head gasket could have cause the crack in the radiator.

Was it leaking coolant, or was coolant just vanishing mysteriously?

Did it overheat when the coolant was full?

regards
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Old 07-09-2008, 07:23 PM   #28
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And you guys never have screwed up working on your own vehicles or getting someone to do it cheap? All the people I have had help from either didn't know what they were talking about or did something wrong including myself. It's been nothing but a head ache, misinformation and improper car mechanicn work. And yet I keep hearing all these DIY success stories of saving hundreds of dollars. It took my friend and I 2 weekends to do the failed brake job (about 15 hours) which had to be done by a mechanic in the end of the day anyway. What's so infuriating about all this is they told me it would end up costing me more trying to do it myself and they were right. One good thing that did come of it is we fixed the E-brake without having to replace it--the cables were seized and we were able to free them up. That's partly why it took so long. Except I broke my e-brake again 6 months later when I pulled to hard up on it. If I had someone I could trust to help me do the job I would--but I don't think I will venture this project on my own.
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Old 07-09-2008, 07:48 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R.I.D.E. View Post
Car was overheating.

Why was it overheating?

Under what conditions was it overheating?

How many times did it overheat?

Did it run hotter the faster your drove? Thats a radiator.

Did it run hot when you are sitting still? thats a cooling fan.

If it has run hot enough many times it could be a head gasket, and all the radiators on the planet will not help.

Thermostats usually go bad in the open position (but not always). When that happens the car runs too cold, or overheats within a couple of miles of when you start it.

How about telling us the symptoms, as precisely as possible.

Were you loosing coolant.

Did you see lots of bubbles in the coolant if you had it running with the cap off (head gasket).

Steam in the exhaust (head gasket)

The pressure from a blown head gasket could have cause the crack in the radiator.

Was it leaking coolant, or was coolant just vanishing mysteriously?

Did it overheat when the coolant was full?

regards
gary
Thanks Gary for this post. These are the same questions my new mechanic asked me. From what I told him he said he couldn't tell if the head gasket was blown or not. (So I might be throwing $500 away)

I will try to tell you everything that happened as succinctly and clearly as possible. In September or so of 2007 I met someone on this website who offered to help me find the culprit for a sticking idle. We didn't find the problem, but he removed a bunch of hoses trying to isolate a vacuum leak. One of the hoses he removed was the rad hose. So I hypothesize he may not have tightened it down properly. (Although I'm thinking this is probably not the cause of my problems.) In February of 2008 I went to a Bruce Springsteen concert. This means lots of idling and going nowhere. I don't believe I've ever heard the fan come on. Leaving the concert, more idling waiting for the traffic to go somewhere out of the mullti-floor parking garage. I notice the temp needle is way up there and then the engine is smoking. I go super slow EOC to a gas station, but it kinda takes awhile to find a gas station. I believe I saw the needle go into the red at least once. At the gas station I find out the rad hose is completely off the radiator. I get a flat head screwdriver and successfully tighten it back down--put anti-freeze into the coolant in the part where you remove the rad cap (not in the tank) and slowly make my way home. On the way home the temp needle kind of wobbled above where it normally is (a little below the middle of the gauge) I think by the second half of the trip (hour drive) it had settled back to normal. I think once or twice shortly after that fluid came out of the radiator cap, and I had to refill it. Then for a long time I had no more problems. Then I lend my car to a friend who said he shifted at around 3000 or 4000 rpm. Says he gets to his house and the engine is steaming. He didn't check the temp gauge... I open the hood fluid had splashed about again (out the rad cap I assume.) I gingerly drive it to a mechanic who is too busy to make an appointment. He puts some hot water into the radiator (so as not to crack anything in the engine) Car seems to be doing alright again so I actually brazenly made a trip to NYC. No problems. Temp gauge stays where it should. Then I make another trip to NYC. Was a bit careless on the ride back about keeping my speed down - did 70mph for awhile but was drafting behind a truck so that should keep things cool. Anyway, engine overheats sometime later. I saw the needle in the red and I did not see any steam or smoke coming from the engine. Turned off the engine, put what little water I had in the car in the rad (again, in where the rad cap is, not in the tank) I go ever so slow to the gas station up the road and the needle never goes red but is kinda up there at times. I open the hood and see some steam coming out of the part of the radiator that the rad hose connects to. This I had not noticed the other times. I put in a quart of anti freeze and continue on my hypermiling EOC way. Of course, EOCing so much means the coolant isn't doing its job for those first ten seconds or so while the engine has to move it around again each time I turn the motor on. Mechanic recommends I leave it idling if I'm going to hypermile versus turning the engine off all the time for this reason. Needle is going up and down the whole ride home about 40 miles. I add more anti freeze that I had at my house and then drive to this new mechanic. He then asks me a series of questions trying to establish the likelihood of a blown gasket. Also, when I arrived at the mechanic, the small steam leak on the rad hose was now cracked and in obvious need of replacement. The rad hose, strangely, came right off--like it was loose and requiring no effort.

To answer your questions Gary, not sure that it ran hotter the faster I drove. I'd probably say not. When it was overheating, I might say idling was worse for the overheating. Speed didn't seem to have much bearing. But it also didn't seem to cool things down much either.

Never saw what the coolant looked like when the car was running.

Never saw steam in the exhaust.

I believe it did overheat when the coolant was full.

The mechanic concluded that he was unable to tell if the gasket was blown or not--and that doing the radiator, cap and thermostat was a diagnostic test. He certainly didn't seem to think it was unlikely that it was a bad gasket and made it perfectly clear I could be dealing with that. But that it depended on how the car had been treated in its life--if it had been abused.
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Old 07-09-2008, 08:40 PM   #30
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Whew!

From reading your info it seems like you ran the car for some distance without any coolant in the radiator, which can definitely cause a blown head gasket.

The best way to proceed would be to put a radiator in the car, even a decent looking used one. If the head gasket is blown any other repairs will be money lost.

Dont worry about the thermostat or anything else until you get a radiator that is full of coolant. make sure the coolant is 50/50 water and anitfreeze, even if the coolant is used, not new.

Start the engine and let it warm up making sure the coolant level is full. if it doesnt overheat watch the coolant at the filler neck with the radiator cap off.
As the engine warms up the thermostat should open and you will see coolant starting to move across the top tank. Do this with the cap off of course.

If you see the coolant moving that is when the thermostat has opened. It should be opening at your normal operating temp. On my car that is slightly below the half way point on the guage.

Watch carefully with the engine idling and see if you see a lot of bubbles with any steam coming into the top tank of the radiator (under the place where the cap goes). If you see a lot of bubbles and some steam it means the head gasket is probably bad. If you dont see any bubbles and the temperature stays in the right place, shut the engine down and let it cool off, then top off the radiator before you restart the engine.

Fill the white plastic overflow jug (the one the small hose at the filler neck goes to) halfway full with coolant. When the engine is warm (you see coolant flowing at the top tank, put the radiator cap on and drive the car very easily for a short distance, and see if it stays cool. Whatever you do don't drive it anymore if it gets hot. Saty close to home on your drive so you can get home quickly.

If it doesn't get hotter than normal, shut it down and let it cool off again, then make sure the radiator is full, and there is coolant in the plastic overflow bottle (about half full).

The system is designed so that when it is working properly, the plastic overflow bottle will catch the expanding coolant when the engine gets hot.
Start the engine again and watch the overflow bottle as it warms up. Keep an eye on the temp guage also. If it warms up and the level in the plastic jusg goes up significantly you should be OK for another drive to see if it runs cool. Take it easy for now with any hard running and see if it stays cool. Avoid any EOC for the time being.

If the system is full, when the engine cools down the level in the overflow jug will drop as the engine cools down. If it does not you have an air pocket that you need to get out. You can keep letting it cool off and add coolant to the radiator (where the cap is located) or you can bleed the system by opening the small bleeder that is right where the top hose connects to the engine (thats the thermostat housing). The bleeder is 12 millimeters.

With the engine running and the radiator cap off (coolant full and engine not overheating) loosen the bleeder and let coolant come out of the small hole in top of the bleeder until you see no air bubbles.

Let it cool off again after making sure the radiator is full and the recovery jug is half full. the level in the recovery jug will go down as the engine cools off, which tells you the system is working properly.

Test drive again and see if it stays cool. If so drive it some distance at moderate speeds and waht the temp very carefully. If it stays in the correct range, you need to let it cool down again, and make sure the overflow jug level drops so you know its feeding coolant back into the radiator. this tells you the system is working properly.

If everything seems Ok at this time drive the car normally. Check the coolant in the radiator and in the recovery jug before you start the engine. The levels should not change and their should be no visible leaks of coolant.

If you head gasket is bad you will either see bubbles in the coolant after you know its full, or you will notice coolant is disappearing and you keep having to add coolant to the system to keep it full.

It may be best to let the mechanic do this because it can get somewhat complicated, but a new radiator is less than $100 and the labor to install it should not be more than 1.5 hours. that doesn't work out to $500. Buy the radiator yourself if the mechanic will let you do that.

he should not like putting a lot of money in your car only to find out the head gasket is blown and you will be spending a lot more money.

If you get the cooling system to work properly and not loose coolant your head gasket should be OK, but the drive you mentioned with the radiator hose completely off the radiator really worries me. The pressure from a blown head gasket can pop the radiator hoses right off the radiator is the gasket is blown bad enough.

If you can afford it in this type of situation it may be better to let the mechanic do the work, if you don't feel comfortable doing it yourself.

My fear is the head gasket is blown and you may even have a cracked head or toher problems related to driving without any coolant. the cooling fan probably would not come on when there is no coolant in the system.

The radiator is easy to replace. I really don't know how to advise you perfectly in this situation, but it iw probably worth a try to see if the head gasket is OK.

regards
gary
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