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Just got a note from the dealer that I need to replace my radiator (on a car with 14k miles) because the "plastic gets brittle". Would love to know if this is true or if i'm getting conned.

Thanks!
 

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Its true that OEM radiators have issues as they have plastic end tanks which can crack and leak. This is a clam off job to replace, is yours actually leaking or is this being recommended as preventive maintenance? If the clam is already off it might be worth considering...otherwise if it aint broke ,,,leave it
 

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Replace it. Otherwise it will leak while you are far away from home and you will be stuck. I just replaced mine on a 2005 Elise with 20K miles. Peace of mind. I had one burst on my 07 Exige When it was just 2 years old.They just go for no reason at all.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Its true that OEM radiators have issues as they have plastic end tanks which can crack and leak. This is a clam off job to replace, is yours actually leaking or is this being recommended as preventive maintenance? If the clam is already off it might be worth considering...otherwise if it aint broke ,,,leave it
Here's the rub on that. The clam WAS off at the body shop being repaired after a kid in an Odyssey backed over the front. But since the body shop didn't take the car to the mechanic first, we now have to take it off again. This has been an utter fiasco.
 

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Yup sounds like it ..How handy are you with the spanners? Its not actually a difficult job to do if you have the space and time to do it and you will save a fortune in labour
 

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There is a good video on how to do it or things to help you consider the work:

 

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There is a good video on how to do it or things to help you consider the work:

I wouldn't follow that video. They do a LOT of work that isn't necessary, including removing the shroud, oil coolers, and AC condenser. None of that needs to be done. The condenser can be left in place and there is no need to disconnect the AC lines. The bolts they couldn't access are along the front and accessible through the grill opening.
 

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I wouldn't follow that video. They do a LOT of work that isn't necessary, including removing the shroud, oil coolers, and AC condenser. None of that needs to be done. The condenser can be left in place and there is no need to disconnect the AC lines. The bolts they couldn't access are along the front and accessible through the grill opening.
ahh ok, good to know!
 

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Just got a note from the dealer that I need to replace my radiator (on a car with 14k miles) because the "plastic gets brittle". Would love to know if this is true or if i'm getting conned.

Thanks!
General question to everyone: Has anyone had a catastrophic failure of the radiator?
 

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General question to everyone: Has anyone had a catastrophic failure of the radiator?
This is one of those things you often hear about and many owners proactively replace their OEM radiator, but from my understanding, which is based on reading hundreds of posts on the topic, failure isn't a certainty and when it does occur, it's typically a slow leak, or misting spray onto the windshield.

There was a recent thread where the OP was asking who was still running their original radiator and a lot of folks jumped in to say they were running the originals without issue.

I personally have a 2006 and am still running the OEM radiator. At one point after doing some research, I intended to replace it, but I haven't had any reason to remove the clam yet, and since the radiator is functioning properly, I have not replaced it. Again, I have not heard of any 'catastrophic' failures regarding the radiator, there always seems to be some warning signs in the anecdotes I've read.
 

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For those of you contemplating radiator replacement now is the time to make a list of all the things to do when clam is off. Louder horn, resistor pack inspection and drain hole, heater box /ac upgrading, any other "while you're there" suggestions?
 

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This is one of those things you often hear about and many owners proactively replace their OEM radiator, but from my understanding, which is based on reading hundreds of posts on the topic, failure isn't a certainty and when it does occur, it's typically a slow leak, or misting spray onto the windshield.

There was a recent thread where the OP was asking who was still running their original radiator and a lot of folks jumped in to say they were running the originals without issue.

I personally have a 2006 and am still running the OEM radiator. At one point after doing some research, I intended to replace it, but I haven't had any reason to remove the clam yet, and since the radiator is functioning properly, I have not replaced it. Again, I have not heard of any 'catastrophic' failures regarding the radiator, there always seems to be some warning signs in the anecdotes I've read.
Exactly. I suspect people making statements about the imminent danger of the failure of this radiator are not based on personal experience and generally don't understand the failure mode. But I wanted to see if I'm right about that.

This is the same radiator construction used on all cars built since the mid 80s. They all fail eventually, but they fail because the seal between the end caps and radiator dries, shrinks, and the crimp that holds the caps to the radiator no longer have pressure on the seals. Maybe sometimes the plastic will develop a hairline crack, maybe. In both cases, coolant leaks out when it's under pressure. There's plenty of warning before any damage occurs to the car as long as the owner can tell there's a leak. I'm suppose on a rare occasion an end cap breaks or pops out of the crimps, but I bet there are other things going on than just age in that case.

I too am on the original radiator in my '05. When I take the front clam off for other work I will replace the radiator with an aluminum one to avoid having to remove the clam again. But I see absolutely no need to specifically replace the radiator because it's old. As long as it's not leaking, it's not worth the effort and expense.
 

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I have a 1983 BMW 320i running the original radiator with plastic end caps. The car has 151,000 miles and no signs of radiator issues.
My Elise lost some coolant when I first started it after winter storage this spring. Looked to be spraying out of the seam behind the drivers side turn signal. It stopped almost immediately after the initial squirt. I've put about 1000 miles on it since then and haven't lost a drop or smelled any coolant at all.
Unless something changes I'll just keep monitoring it and will change it to an all aluminum if the clam needs to come off.
 

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Do you have the instructions that describe the job without disconnecting the AC lines by any chance? I'd like to bookmark it.
These two threads were helpful when I did mine:



The pdf on the first thread has pictures showing the mounting points, etc.
 

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General question to everyone: Has anyone had a catastrophic failure of the radiator?
Yes - I did. It happened right when I first got the car (an '08 with 10K miles on it at the time). Coolant started spewing all over the windshield as I was going down the road at around 45-50mph. Luckily I was close to home as it was losing coolant at a pretty rapid rate.
 

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Yes - I did. It happened right when I first got the car (an '08 with 10K miles on it at the time). Coolant started spewing all over the windshield as I was going down the road at around 45-50mph. Luckily I was close to home as it was losing coolant at a pretty rapid rate.
Thanks for replying, I wouldn't classify that as catastrophic as it sounds like you had enough water to safely get the car off the road with no engine damage, if I understand the answer correctly. Do you know how much coolant was left in the car when you finally stopped? The car goes into limp mode when the coolant is not sufficiently cooling the engine, do you know if it got to that point?
 

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Thanks for replying, I wouldn't classify that as catastrophic as it sounds like you had enough water to safely get the car off the road with no engine damage, if I understand the answer correctly. Do you know how much coolant was left in the car when you finally stopped? The car goes into limp mode when the coolant is not sufficiently cooling the engine, do you know if it got to that point?
I don't think it is probable then to see anything worse than that since even a tiny leak releases a lot of pressure. It's like trying to blow up a balloon that's leaking at the same time; you just won't get enough pressure to make a nice 'pop'.

That being said, I have had mine blink the CEL at me before from overheating due to a slow radiator leak. I would top it off but the level would be propped up by an air bubble in the system causing it to be misleading.
 

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I don't think it is probable then to see anything worse than that since even a tiny leak releases a lot of pressure. It's like trying to blow up a balloon that's leaking at the same time; you just won't get enough pressure to make a nice 'pop'.

That being said, I have had mine blink the CEL at me before from overheating due to a slow radiator leak. I would top it off but the level would be propped up by an air bubble in the system causing it to be misleading.
Yup, again, my point exactly.
 

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It is true that most cars are still running stock rads. But it is also true that many have failed. Failures range from pin hole leaks to complete failures that have rendered the car undriveable. Certainly when the clam is off, preemptive replacement of the rad is smart. The all aluminum solutions have been quite reliable and have also shown to reduce water temps marginly.
 
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