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Discussion Starter #1
Here we go again! Asking for advice.

Opened my hood today to have a look-sie and this is what I find. :frown2:

AcuraCoolantLeak1.JPG

I had to get a nail plugged in so asked the mechanic there and he says it is probably the radiator. Of course I have had lots of issues with the judder and (2) unnecessary torque converter replacements.

When my dealership did a triple transmission fluid flush few weeks back my SA did mention that the tech saw coolant spots inside the hood but he couldn't find anything 'wrong' so he cleaned the spots and 'we will have to keep an eye on it'

I will stop by my Acura service center next week but what are your thoughts?

I'm afraid it has to do with the judder issues / transmission fluid unable to maintain temperature and I'm concerned about possible corrosion with the tranny / transmission fluid.

Any and all feedback welcome! Thanks for listening.

My MDX currently has 65K miles on it.
 

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Radiator for sure... (Been there, done that)
Best case scenario is just a bad radiator cap... Worst case you need a new radiator.
 

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I can't tell from the pic but it's not necessarily the radiator - it could be a radiator cap (perhaps even just not properly tightened), radiator hose, a loose hose clamp, the water pump, coolant overflow reservoir and associated hoses, etc. When there's a leak of any kind the fluid tends to spray out since it's under pressure and then fly around in the windstream and if it goes through the fan then it gets spread around even more.

If it actually is the radiator it could be leaking from a corroded core, a damaged core due to road debris or self-inflicted by someone working on the vehicle, or something like a cracked housing due to stress.

It's not normal for a radiator, hose, or clamp to have failed at this age of a vehicle. A water pump could fail/leak at around that mileage (I've replace the WP about 5 times in my Durango - all at roughly that mileage).

You said you've had a lot of work done in the vehicle. If they're doing tranny work they're liable to have been messing around in the radiator area with the trans cooling lines and anytime someone's in that area they can inadvertently cause damage to the radiator. It can be a simple slip of a wrench or other tool that does it. This seems like the most suspect cause in my opinion given the young age of your vehicle.

The main thing to do now is to see if you can see where the actual leak is.
- You can wait until the vehicle engine temp is warmed up to normal then shut the engine off and pop the hood and see if you can find the leak. The radiator area actually heats up after the engine is off since there's no longer air or coolant flow.
- If you can't find the leak that way then clean the coolant spots off and then keep checking after driving to see if you can localize the leak.
- If you're mechanically inclined, or take it to a mechanic (like you already did but they didn't troubleshoot it which is weird), you can put a tool on the radiator cap to pressurize the system and see if it holds pressure and in this case see if you can find where the leak's coming from by the fluid or air escaping.
- You can by a fluorescent dye (or a mechanic should have this) to put in that'll fluoresce under a black light to trace the leak.

Since you know there's a leak make sure you keep the fluid level up in the meantime.

This shouldn't have anything to do with your tranny judder and issues.
 

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In pic it looks more like green paint than antifreeze. I have never seen antifreeze that color (cool mint), must be my old laptop.......
 

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It's blue. A lot of current oem provided pre mixed coolant is blue now.

Sent from my HTC6525LVW using Tapatalk
 

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Yep.. Once dry the Blue Coolant turn to that mint color... (Been there, done that x2).
 

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If it is only on the top of the motor, possibly it is just some splash from a tech opening the radiator cap before the engine was cool.

I would suggest that you look over every area of the engine bay that is visible and see if there are other areas of spots. If not, just wash off the spotted area and continue to watch for any new signs of leakage.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Hi everyone!

First of all, I'm genuinely thankful to this community. You guys rock! Thank you for always helping me.

Sorry for the delay in writing back.

I didn't go to Acura today. I decided to go to a local mechanic shop that I like. He did a thorough check but could not find any leak, etc. The reservoir was pretty much empty (so much for Acura always "checking all fluid levels") which he refilled. He said that could have triggered the coolant to burst outward when it was looking for more.

They also put the car up on a lift and checked underneath for signs of leakage. Nothing. I asked him if it could be a bad cap but he said it looks completely intact but if this happens again without reason then we can replace the cap / remove the radiator etc and do a full check that way.

He inspected the engine oil and transmission fluid and the color was fine so no mixing with the coolant ... thankfully.

They did clean all the spots and I'll be monitoring it daily.

I hope it's nothing but since this is the second time it has happened it doesn't 'feel' like nothing.

Thanks again skirmich, mdxstang, dzionassi, neoshi, and Bluepill !
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hey all,

Back here for your kind help once again.

So upon further leakage spots, I went to the dealer and they have determined it is a bad radiator (leak at the seam)

The dealer has quoted me $770+tax for it's replacement.

What I would like to know is if it's a good idea to order the radiator myself and have a private shop do the replacement? Or is this something that's advisable to do at the Acura dealer?

If it's not a crazy complicated job and a good mechanic can handle it ... then if you folks can be kind enough to tell me what exactly I need to order. I have a 2015 SH-AWD

Lastly, is this something I should make a top priority and have it replaced ASAP? Is it safe to drive the car in meanwhile? It's been like this for at least a couple of months anyway.

I'm grateful for any advice you guys can offer me. Thanks.
 

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Hey all,

Back here for your kind help once again.

So upon further leakage spots, I went to the dealer and they have determined it is a bad radiator (leak at the seam)

The dealer has quoted me $770+tax for it's replacement.

What I would like to know is if it's a good idea to order the radiator myself and have a private shop do the replacement? Or is this something that's advisable to do at the Acura dealer?

If it's not a crazy complicated job and a good mechanic can handle it ... then if you folks can be kind enough to tell me what exactly I need to order. I have a 2015 SH-AWD

Lastly, is this something I should make a top priority and have it replaced ASAP? Is it safe to drive the car in meanwhile? It's been like this for at least a couple of months anyway.

I'm grateful for any advice you guys can offer me. Thanks.
A radiator replacement job is not complicated at all. It's basically draining all coolant from the radiator and lines (~15 mins), take the electrical connections off the radiator fans (literally like two plugs), disconnecting the radiator hoses and radiator from the vehicle, pulling it and the fans still attached to it out, putting the fans on the new radiator, sliding everything back into place for bolting back, reconnect the fans, the hoses, and refill the radiator and reservoir (if needed). Then run it on high heat to clear out air bubbles for a few minutes. The radiator assembly is around $120 and I would get a new cap at $12, and depending on the state of your hoses, replace those if needed. Takes at most about 3 hours of labor (~$100/hr) and arguably any adept shop can do this under 2 hours. A bottle of coolant is about $20. I think you're looking at <$400-500 realistically. You can even just reuse the thermostat too.

Forgot what interval the water pump service is at, but my other Japanese cars I tend to replace the pump around 100k.
 

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Depending on where you live, the $770 cost at a dealership doesn't sound too outrageous for a job like this, but it still might be a little high. Dealers are usually a bit more expensive than independent mechanics for parts & labor. The plus side is that most likely they'll be using OEM parts and fluids. For something like a radiator replacement, I think I'd only use the Acura dealership if I was in dire need of a loaner vehicle.

If you don't plan on doing the replacement yourself and instead plan on taking it to a private shop, I'd recommend that you let the shop order the parts for you. Most reputable shops around where I live offer a 12 month/12,000 mile warranty on their work. That way, if an issue pops up with that part, you can bring the car back to him and not be charged for any parts & labor a second time. If you buy your own parts, I think you'd be on the hook for both costs should there be some type of failure. The mechanic may also be able to give you a few options in terms of price & quality for the parts he'll be using. That should help take out the guess work of trying to pick which radiator to order. I would just make sure you ask if he plans on using the OEM Honda coolant.
 

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I've replaced a number of radiators myself but not on an MDX. It's usually a fairly straightforward job.

The other thing I've done a number of times is 'repair' a radiator leak without replacing the radiator. For a vehicle with a leak as you describe this would be my first approach. Your radiator doesn't have that many miles on it and normally s/b good for much longer and the seam leak was likely due to a weak spot as opposed to a completely worn out radiator - especially if you've been using antifreeze per spec as opposed to straight water.

I've fixed radiators by sometimes soldering the leak shut and other times using JB Weld to fix it. Auto parts stores also sell something like JB Weld specifically for radiator leak repair. In all of these cases the repairs were permanent and solved the problem and the cost was nothing but my time plus some solder or JB Weld I had laying around. I recommend giving the JB Weld a shot - it's as simple as cleaning the area at the leak with light sandpaper/steel wool, mixing up a bit of the JB Weld, and applying it to the leak area and then letting it set for overnight.

Doing the above may save you hundreds of dollars. Give it a shot. If you don't want to do it then ask a mechanic about applying a similar repair as opposed to installing a new radiator.

Note that if you do replace the radiator they're not all equal since this is an area where the aftermarket has products and some will be inferior. An Acura dealer will almost certainly use an Acura part for the radiator but an individual mechanic shop will likely use an aftermarket one that may or may not be as good.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Hey all,

First of all ... neoshi, Emmet, mdxstang ... THANK YOU so much for your quick replies.

@ mdxstang ... I wish I knew how to mess around with cars like that and I would love to try it ... but that's out of my league so I just gotta go with the flow of the dealer / private mechanic analysis and replace the radiator. By any chance, you don't happen to live in the NYC area do you? ;) Perhaps I can hire you for your expertise. Hehe.

So I think I have all the needed OEM parts here:

Radiator (Denso) - # 19010-5J6-A01 - $114.99

Radiator Cap (Denso) - # 19045-RAA-003 - $12.33

Radiator Cap Label - # 19046-RAA-A00 - $1.95

Coolant - # OL999-9011 *x2 (1 gallon / $13.42 each)

*Auto shop said to bring 2 gallons.

...can you folks think of anything else I might need?

My local mechanic shop that I trust ... quoted $200 for labor ... which I think is more than fair. Looks like all parts will cost $156.11 + $13.85 tax + $18.79 s&h = $188.75 So ~$400 all-in with labor ... literally half of what the dealer wants.

I will await your thoughts before ordering. Thanks!

PS - OT: How much would the timing belt / water pump parts will roughly cost? I'm @ 69K so in another year or so I'll be at the 100K mark. Is that something to get done by Acura or any capable shop is OK?
 

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IIRC, the water pump itself is around $120, but I can't remember what the timing belt service includes on a Honda family vehicle. It was ages ago for my Odyssey (same type of powerplant, just without DI), but you tend to need new seals along with tensioners, pulleys, and the belts. It's hefty too, and I think Honda places charge around $1k for the timing belt+water pump job, so you could just wait on that.

That should pretty much be all the parts you need for the radiator, give or take a few hoses depending on their state of deterioration. They're a good source of leaks after a certain time, so it's a judgement call there. I think they're about $20 each for the upper and lower hoses. Sometimes the thermostat housing leaks too, but that's much more rare (pretty indicative of a bad pump actually instead of the housing).
 

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I don't see a reason to replace the water pump and timing belt along with the radiator just because you're replacing the radiator since you're only about 2/3 of the mileage to the time to replace the belt. It makes sense to do the water pump at the same time as the timing belt since it has to come off to get to it anyway and it likely is getting worn out around then anyway. I'd skip this extra work/cost for now.

Traditionally I'd replace the upper and lower radiator hose along with the radiator although hoses nowadays seem to be much better than the hoses of the olden days. It's usually not a great cost to replace them. Typically I'd replace the hose clamps at the same time but this isn't always necessary either depending on the type of clamp but clamps are cheap.

I think the labor price you were quoted sounds reasonable. There's some value in having a mechanic you trust do the work so even if it was a bit more than a bottom end quote it's likely worth it.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
That should pretty much be all the parts you need for the radiator, give or take a few hoses depending on their state of deterioration. They're a good source of leaks after a certain time, so it's a judgement call there. I think they're about $20 each for the upper and lower hoses.
Traditionally I'd replace the upper and lower radiator hose along with the radiator although hoses nowadays seem to be much better than the hoses of the olden days. It's usually not a great cost to replace them. Typically I'd replace the hose clamps at the same time but this isn't always necessary either depending on the type of clamp but clamps are cheap.
Thanks guy. I'm about ready to order the parts. I don't mind ordering the upper and lower hoses. Sounds like good advice from the two of you. To confirm, are we referring to #9 and #10 as shown here?

Also, is the hose clamp #12 in the above link? How many do I need?

Another question...should I (do I need to) order the radiator seal as well? Just curious since they told me the radiator is leaking at the seam so not sure if the "radiator seal" has anything to do with all that.

Sorry for the n00b questions and many thanks, as always! :7:
 

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The clamps mdxstang talked about are the 11s (you need 4). The 12 looks to be a holding clamp just to position the hose and will likely be reused. The #7 seal looks to be a bumper cushion for the radiator. If the setup is anything like the older MDXes, that foam piece prevents the metal brackets in front of the radiator's plastic portion from hitting the plastic and causing a crack (to a certain degree). It usually has a sticky side to it, like a tape on bumper, which would mean you probably need to replace it. Here's a picture of the seal in a 1G MDX: http://www.mdxers.org/forums/attachments/first-generation-mdx-2001-2006/59561d1399986955-best-radiator-03-mdx-20140510_093432.jpg

The seam your mechanic was likely speaking of was the plastic to metal transition, where the plastic is usually clamped down by the metal. Usually the plastic breaks from all the repeated heating over time, causing a fissure and eventual leak. Before my time, radiators used to be all metal, and aftermarket "quality" ones usually are too.
 

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Before my time, radiators used to be all metal, and aftermarket "quality" ones usually are too.
I still have some cars that are all metal (60s).

It's the plastic top of the radiator that I've had crack on some vehicles where I repaired it with JB Weld - a repair that held up indefinitely. I still recommend going this route if there's an idea where the leak is and it's reasonably accessible. If you've ever used epoxy before to glue some things together than you can do this. All JB Weld is is very strong and durable epoxy - it comes in 2 parts that you mix together then just glob onto the repair location. In the case of a small crack in the radiator plastic part, including where the metal meets the plastic part, just clean it well then mix the JB Weld then use a popsicle stick or something to apply it to the spot. Wait overnight and then see if it fixed the problem. Worst case - it didn't fix it and you go ahead and replace the radiator.

This really is pretty easy to do as long as the area of the leak is reasonably accessible.
 
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