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Old 03-14-2007, 08:08 AM   #1
Gbody403
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Default Radiator leak - is this common?

Yesterday the low cooland light came on while driving to work in my 96' SC2 so last night I looked for the leak. It's seems to be leaking around around the metal stamping where the top transmission line connects to the radiator. Has anyone else had this problem and is there a fix other than replacing the radiator? My car has about 160K on it.
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Old 03-14-2007, 08:23 AM   #2
M.Nguyen
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Default Re: Radiator leak - is this common?

there are cracks in the rib on the driver side radiator end tank.

Your only option (other then JB weld it) is to replace the whole radiator. You cannot replace just the plastic end tank.

Has happened in every saturn i've owned (4) and every saturn i've known (probably another 5) within my group of friends.
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Old 03-14-2007, 08:50 AM   #3
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Default Re: Radiator leak - is this common?

Cracking of the plastic end tank on the driver side below the inlet hose (and above the transmission connection on automatics) is a common problem as cars reach about the 10-year point.

Replacing the radiator is the best fix. Anything else will probably be a temporary fix at best.
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Old 03-14-2007, 08:54 AM   #4
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Default Re: Radiator leak - is this common?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gbody403 View Post
Yesterday the low cooland light came on while driving to work in my 96' SC2 so last night I looked for the leak. It's seems to be leaking around around the metal stamping where the top transmission line connects to the radiator. Has anyone else had this problem and is there a fix other than replacing the radiator? My car has about 160K on it.
Fairly common failure. I have replaced 3 radiators in the 4 Saturns I have had. They really aren't hard to replace. I don't advocate using the JB Weld. Some people have reported success but it is going to temporary and you will be changing it anyway sooner or later anyway.

If you do choose to go the JB Weld route, to do it right, you will probably have to take the radiator out anyway. Also I think the people who reported the best results used some form of mesh material with the JB to help reinforce it.
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Old 03-14-2007, 12:36 PM   #5
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Default Re: Radiator leak - is this common?

Thanks for confirming my suspicion. Now I have to ask myself if I should buy another used radiator from the junk yard or buy a new one? If 10 years is an accurate service life then it would be silly to buy a replacement from a yard right? If I go new, anybody have a good source (cheap)?? Thanks.
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Old 03-14-2007, 02:57 PM   #6
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Default Re: Radiator leak - is this common?

Ten years appears to be the typical life, your mileage may vary as they say. But given the amount of effort it takes to replace the radiator (not difficult, just time consuming) many folks find it not worth doing more often that necessary if you plan to keep the car for more than a year or two.

If you are going to get rid of the car in a year or so and short on cash it might be worth trying a cheap used unit. Just inspect it very carefully for any signs of cracking.

Check the usual suspects for after market replacements and warranty options. AdvanceAutoParts sold a lifetime warranty unit for about $150USD. OEM from saturnparts.com is more like $260USD.
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Old 03-14-2007, 04:05 PM   #7
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Default Re: Radiator leak - is this common?

FYI, there is a theory (discussed on this board) that frequently checking the coolant, and replacing the coolant cap while the engine is still warm, can contribute to this kind of leak.

The theory is that, if you reseal a hot system at "neutral" air pressure, the system will develop negative pressure when it cools, and then go back to neutral pressure when hot. (As opposed to being at neutral pressure when cool, and then being at positive pressure when hot.) This cycling back and forth to negative pressure "sucks in" and stresses the plastic end tanks in a way that contributes to cracking.

If you have to check the coolant in a hot engine, try to wait till it cools before replacing the cap. If you have to put the cap back on while the system is hot (to drive home), as soon as the engine cools, take the cap off and put it back on again to establish a neutral cool pressure in the system.

With this thought in mind, I'd start with a new radiator vs. getting a used one.

Good luck.
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Old 03-14-2007, 04:15 PM   #8
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Default Re: Radiator leak - is this common?

Quote:
Fm Saturn House
The theory is that, if you reseal a hot system at "neutral" air pressure, the system will develop negative pressure when it cools, and then go back to neutral pressure when hot. (As opposed to being at neutral pressure when cool, and then being at positive pressure when hot.) This cycling back and forth to negative pressure "sucks in" and stresses the plastic end tanks in a way that contributes to cracking.
^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ And I check my coolant level only when the engine is stone cold.
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Old 03-14-2007, 06:34 PM   #9
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Default Re: Radiator leak - is this common?

Good info. Saturnhouse. I just replace my radiator. Cracked in the same place as stated on a 95 SL-2 twin. I checked the water level when hot after running and replaced cap. When I get home I will remove and reinstall cap with a cold motor. Will pass along to my son.

Gbody403- replace with a new unit. Your wasting your time on a used unit. Their not that expensive. Hardest part is getting to the 2 bolts that hold the AC coil to the radiator. The complete change out took me about a hour.
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Old 03-14-2007, 07:37 PM   #10
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Default Re: Radiator leak - is this common?

Whatever you choose, start soaking those tranny line connections with PB Blaster NOW, to give it time to work.
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Old 03-14-2007, 11:00 PM   #11
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Default Re: Radiator leak - is this common?

I see some on Ebay for around $75 shipped. There is even one now for $64 with bidding ending soon.
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Old 03-15-2007, 06:39 AM   #12
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Default Re: Radiator leak - is this common?

I would say 90% of the radiator leaks are at that spot. I originally thought it might be due to the tranny cooling lines and the rocking an automatic has with Reverse slam, but it seems to affect cars with manual transmissions just as often, and they don't have lines from their trannies to the radiator.

I replaced my original radiator at 160K 3 years ago. I currently have a coolant leak somewhere as I have to add coolant every two weeks and I can smell it after driving the car. I had a radiator shop replace the last one, but I found a Modine on E-bay that I might use if it is the radiator and I feel like sinking money into a car I might sell.
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Old 03-15-2007, 10:03 AM   #13
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Default Re: Radiator leak - is this common?

Thanks for all the great input. I really think that new is the way to go. I'll have to check the e-bay listings that were mentioned.
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