tuesday car blogging

Tuesday, Thursday, what’s the difference?

Read on for boring car talk:

So I’m driving to a client yesterday, and I take my sentra (Sentra #2 that hasn’t been driven hard in a while) on the interstate from south to north nashville. I stop at the Exxon on metrocenter blvd to get gas and a snack. I start pumping, go in, buy some trail mix, and come out to see coolant streaming from my engine. Not good.

So, I pop the hood and try to identify where it’s coming from and it looks like it’s coming from the base of the radiator, but it’s slowed to a trickle already. I let it cool down for a while and observed that the leak totally stopped and the reservoir was still reasonably full. As best I can tell, the coolant was actually coming from the bottom of the radiator. There was nothing coming from either of the hoses, or from the overflow cap or anything. It never got hot or anything, it just started spewing coolant, either once I had stopped or perhaps some time before.

After letting it cool down a little more and staring at it blankly, I topped off the reservoir with water and started it up. It ran fine, a little on the warm side but nothing out of line for a sunny day in the upper 60s. I then drove it all way home (with an escort just in case) and it ran cool as a cucumber.

I am guessing that there’s a hairline crack or hole that doesn’t see fit to leak until it gets hot enough to be pressurized, which means it’s driveable, but probably shouldn’t be pushed.

I am trying to decide which course of action to take:

  • Take it to a shop, pay them to replace the radiator, and pretend it never happened: expensive, no fun, but probably the most realistic given my time constraints
  • Buy that fluorescent gunk and run it through the radiator, run it hot, and hope to identify the leak. Yank the radiator, clean it, and JBWELD the hell out of the leak: cheap, fun, but time-consuming and prone to error or failure if I can’t find the leak.
  • Buy a brand new radiator (I think a radiator from pull-a-part would be too much of a gamble) and replace it: moderately expensive, fun, but time-consuming
  • Do one of the above and discover it wasn’t a problem with the radiator at all, or promptly have the engine explode or something: the most likely scenario