Cracked radiator top - Toyota Nation Forum : Toyota Car and Truck Forums
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#1 Old 03-16-2009, 10:05 AM
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4th Generation Cracked radiator top

99 Camry LE, 4-cyl, auto, 150k miles

I noticed steam yesterday coming from the grill area while at stoplights. Turns out I have a number of fine cracks along the top plastic cover of the radiator. I'm not losing an large amount of coolant but I'm sure this is probably only the be beginning of the problem.

I tried searching & that area is frequently mentioned as a potential problem area, but there didn't seem to be any info on a way to fix this problem.

My assumption is that this top cover is not replacable, it's the whole radiator or nothing. What I wanted to know is if there's any way to repair this area. External solutions might be high-temp epoxy, jb weld, maybe some type of high-temp adhesive/sealant tape (?), etc. Internal solutions I imagine are limited to some kind of "stop leak" additive.

Are any of these viable solutions (either temporary or permanent) and if so, which stand the best chance of working.

Also, if radiator replacement is the only option, what kind of price range should I expect for a new radiator (the part) and how many hours can I expect to be charged for by a mechanic to replace it.

Thanks for any input you can give!
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#2 Old 03-16-2009, 10:12 AM
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When I had my camry and this issue came up, I didn't have any luck with trying to treat the plastic. If you want to go that route, RADIATOR CRACK...Need help

I ended up having to replace the whole thing: Gen 3 I4 Radiator Change/ Thermostat Change

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#3 Old 03-16-2009, 10:24 AM
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interesting...

Thanks for the quick reponse!

That's some good info there, especially the radiator DIY. I may try to do it myself afterall. In the meantime I'll probalby try the patch route just to buy some time. My 97 Jetta is misfiring on multiple cylnders (bad MAF, I think) so the Camry (my wife's car) is the only one in reasonable running condition.

Thanks again for the info. If anyone else wants to chime in on what has/hasn't worked for them regarding a temp/patch solution, please feel free.
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#4 Old 03-16-2009, 11:16 AM
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Additional cost info.

I'm replacing the radiator on my '95 LE cylinder. It's cracked at the top as you described, but leaking like a sieve when the car heats up.

Quote from the dealership = $493.36 including coolant, parts, labor, & tax.

My Toyota mechanic friend didn't give me an exact number yet, but said he'd do it on the side for less than half that.
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#5 Old 03-16-2009, 11:20 AM
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Yes, fairly easy job.

Quick break down:

Radiator: 110-140
New hoses top/bottom: 40 at most.
Clamps: 5
Coolant: 20
Thermostat: 10.
Time: 1hr.

There is minor stuff but these are the major components, should run you no where near 500 bucks.

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#6 Old 03-16-2009, 12:14 PM
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I got a new radiator installed for about $300, for a 93 LE I4 auto.
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#7 Old 03-16-2009, 02:09 PM
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promising...

Quote:
Originally Posted by uuuuu View Post
I got a new radiator installed for about $300, for a 93 LE I4 auto.
I've got a decent independant mechanic, so even if I don't DIY it looks like it wont' be as much as I feared. Whew! My wife likes having someone to blame, so maybe I'll just let the mechanic do it. Still, doesn't seem that hard to do....

Last edited by Thetick247; 03-16-2009 at 02:12 PM.
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#8 Old 03-16-2009, 03:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thetick247 View Post
I've got a decent independant mechanic, so even if I don't DIY it looks like it wont' be as much as I feared. Whew! My wife likes having someone to blame, so maybe I'll just let the mechanic do it. Still, doesn't seem that hard to do....
Do it yourself man! On the 95/96 4cyl models it's literally removing two bolts and removing the hoses and wires that run the fans. Plus, it only cost me around $100.00 plus the cost of coolant. (didn't flush the system, and left on the original hoses since they looked okay. ) by the way- the hardest part is placing the fans on the new radiator.



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#9 Old 03-16-2009, 09:03 PM
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When replacing the radiator, do yourself a favor and make CERTAIN that the replacement does NOT have plastic anything - but is ALL-ALUMINUM. I wish that Toyota would do away with the crappy plastic top and bottom tanked radiators - they ALWAYS give trouble. The plastic simply cannot stand up to heating and cooling (and pressurization) for more than a certain number of cycles.....then they invariably develop cracks. Most aftermarket radiators are all-metal construction, anyway - but, I'd advise you to be sure of it.
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#10 Old 03-16-2009, 09:12 PM
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do it yourself...it's not that hard... just make sure your engine is completed cool when you begins replace your bad radiator. GO for the NEW ONE.... don't buy the rebuilt...

don't buy from the dealership because they want 400-500 for just a radiator...go Napa buy a new one..it comes with life warranty.. don't buy radiator from Autozone because you want quality for your $$..
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#11 Old 03-16-2009, 09:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1996camry View Post
do it yourself...it's not that hard... just make sure your engine is completed cool when you begins replace your bad radiator. GO for the NEW ONE.... don't buy the rebuilt...

don't buy from the dealership because they want 400-500 for just a radiator...go Napa buy a new one..it comes with life warranty.. don't buy radiator from Autozone because you want quality for your $$..
^ +1



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#12 Old 03-16-2009, 09:32 PM
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Dont forget to grab a quart or two of ATF. when you disconnect the ATF lines from the radiator, your going to loss about a quart.

Heck since your at it, drain and refill of the 1/3 tranny fiuld.
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#13 Old 03-17-2009, 07:33 AM
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I had a good experience ordering online from http://www.radiatorbarn.com/
fast shipping and reasonable prices.

This is at most a casual sunday afternoon job with very basic hand tools.
Might as well do a complete drain and refill and replace the thermostat while you have the coolant drained.

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#14 Old 03-17-2009, 09:33 AM
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do it urself!! - its pretty freakin' easy! take out the radiator as a whole with the fans and then lay it down side by side- next to ur brand new replacement and just start moving stuff over one by one..if ur not sure where the hoses would go back on, take pictures before hand and use it as a guide? - idk but $500 is ridiculous. good luck!!


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#15 Old 05-27-2009, 05:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ONE_to_HATE View Post
do it urself!! - its pretty freakin' easy! take out the radiator as a whole with the fans and then lay it down side by side- next to ur brand new replacement and just start moving stuff over one by one..if ur not sure where the hoses would go back on, take pictures before hand and use it as a guide? - idk but $500 is ridiculous. good luck!!
Guys,

My 1999 Camry delveloped exactly the same problem. The Radiator top tank developed a 9" long crack by the time I noticed. It leaks coolant moderately fast like half the reservoir in a 50 mile drive.

I tried to do JB Weld but it is not helping. It seems to seal the leak but suddenly it gives away.

Dealer quoted about $500 as usual.

I have read the replies in this thread and it to be a swap with a new radiator is easy. I am willing to try but have couple of questions:

1. Does the A/C line need to be disconnected and reconnected for the radiator to replace?
2. What is the approx capacity of radiator when I drain coolant?
3. When I fill the NEW radiator with new coolant what happens all the air trapped in?
4. Is replacing the thermostat easy?

I do oil changes in my car and replaced the spark plugs myself. Does that mean I can probably attempt the radiator replacement?

Thanks for all the help

Last edited by boochi101; 05-27-2009 at 05:15 PM.
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