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2000 STS - radiator cracked - replacement gotchas?


mmarinov

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Hello, all.

My 2000 STS (70K) developed an external antifreeze leak underneath the passenger front side of the car. Took it in to the dealer and looks like the radiator's cracked (I wasn't able to see the source of leakage in my garage so I took it in).

Long story short, they want about $1K to replace the radiator and also told me one of the head gaskets is leaking (add another $3,300). I got her with 48K and actually followed through with preventative maintenance to head off potential had gasket problems, but such is life.

In any event, how difficult are these radiators to replace? One poster on the CO forum indicated they had to remove the A/C condensor, and someone with a '98 said they just had to move the condensor.

Advice, anyone? FWIW, I have not had any overheating issues as of yet. I am deliberating whether to ride out the head gasket problem or maybe fix the immediate problem and trade it in?

Thanks guys & gals.

Mark

<!--fonto:Arial--><span style="font-family:Arial"><!--/fonto-->2007 DTS Performance - 50K

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As a matter of fact, I <i>am</i> driving 70 MPH in a phone booth.

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An aftermarket radiator is about $150. You can install it in two hours. As for Northstar head gaskets, there is a lot of info and first-hand experience accumulated by the members of this board. Search archives. Do they say it leaks externally? I would not trust a stealership charging $1,000 for radiator replacement.

The saddest thing in life is wasted talent

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I'd be leary and get a second opinion on the HG.

Good idea - thanks to you both. I have a line on an aftermarket radiator locally (I think mine has the EOC so it's a little higher, I'll check after dinner). No, they didn't say anything about the HG causing leaking externally; they just called me with the results of the dye test after they determined the radiator had a crack in it as well.

I used to be an avid reader of this here site and remember many, many posts about head gasket issues, timeserting, and many mechanics' preemptive conclusions that any sentence containing the words "Northstar" and "coolant" end in Timesert :)

You know, I have never had an overheating condition with this car, so for that diagnosis to come back was a little surprising to say the least. No matter what the outcome ends up being, at least I can say I did what I was supposed to for once in terms of correct preventative maintenance (thanks, CI!)

Once I get the obvious problem fixed I'll get a second opinion. Thanks for the rational advice.

MJM

<!--fonto:Arial--><span style="font-family:Arial"><!--/fonto-->2007 DTS Performance - 50K

<!--fontc--></span><!--/fontc-->

As a matter of fact, I <i>am</i> driving 70 MPH in a phone booth.

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Did you mention a possible head gasket problem to them when you dropped it off

Pre-1995 - DTC codes OBD1  >>

1996 and newer - DTC codes OBD2 >> https://www.obd-codes.com/trouble_codes/gm/obd_codes.htm

How to check for codes Caddyinfo How To Technical Archive >> http://www.caddyinfo.com/wordpress/cadillac-how-to-faq/

Cadillac History & Specifications Year by Year  http://www.motorera.com/cadillac/index.htm

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Did you mention a possible head gasket problem to them when you dropped it off

No sir, not at all. And "Hi" BBF!

In fact overheating/suspected HG did not come up at all (as it has not overheated; I maintained coolant level as soon as the DIC said there was an issue). The only indicators of a problem were the CHECK COOLANT LEVEL on the DIC, followed by observing the coolant leaking on the ground and the antifreeze smell a little while later.

The way they paraphrase on the RO I could see why a tech would go down that route (perhaps). The RO states "CUST BELIEVES THERE IS COOLANT LEAKING FROM PASS SIDE, BELIEVES THERE IS STEAM COMING FROM BEHIND HEADLIGHT, BELIEVES COOLANT INDICATOR ON"

As if I had some kind of OBDCII pipe dream or something. In any event, HG were not even on my radar screen and even if I did suspect I would not lead the stealership down that path first.

MJM

<!--fonto:Arial--><span style="font-family:Arial"><!--/fonto-->2007 DTS Performance - 50K

<!--fontc--></span><!--/fontc-->

As a matter of fact, I <i>am</i> driving 70 MPH in a phone booth.

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Hi Mark, long time no see!

Good, we wouldnt want to 'lead' them

The radiator is not a hard job to do at all, when you are ready we can post the procedure, its just a cumbersome job, not hard, you dont need to remove the condenser at all. $1000 is a rip off

One thing some radiators have an internal engine oil cooler, it would be located in the passenger side end tank, take a look to see if you have pipes connected to the pass side tank, if not good, you will just need to remove the tranny cooler lines located in the drivers side tank

Pre-1995 - DTC codes OBD1  >>

1996 and newer - DTC codes OBD2 >> https://www.obd-codes.com/trouble_codes/gm/obd_codes.htm

How to check for codes Caddyinfo How To Technical Archive >> http://www.caddyinfo.com/wordpress/cadillac-how-to-faq/

Cadillac History & Specifications Year by Year  http://www.motorera.com/cadillac/index.htm

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Hi Mark, long time no see!

Good, we wouldnt want to 'lead' them

The radiator is not a hard job to do at all, when you are ready we can post the procedure, its just a cumbersome job, not hard, you dont need to remove the condenser at all. $1000 is a rip off

One thing some radiators have an internal engine oil cooler, it would be located in the passenger side end tank, take a look to see if you have pipes connected to the pass side tank, if not good, you will just need to remove the tranny cooler lines located in the drivers side tank

Thanks for the help! If you wouldn't mind posting the procedure that would be a huge help. I am going to pick the new radiator up over lunch in about an hour.

I believe I have the EOC, as I see what looks to be a rubber hose coming out of the RH side of the radiator (bottom, passenger side). It has flex-loom around it and it goes into what feels like a steel line. I'll post pics if I can get this camera to work in the dreary weather here. To be clear, I am NOT talking about the 2 steel tranny cooler lines on the LH (driver) side tank. The guy at the radiator shop is going to pull both versions put of their boxes to show me the alternatives.

Thanks again,

MJM

Edited by mmarinov

<!--fonto:Arial--><span style="font-family:Arial"><!--/fonto-->2007 DTS Performance - 50K

<!--fontc--></span><!--/fontc-->

As a matter of fact, I <i>am</i> driving 70 MPH in a phone booth.

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Hi Mark, long time no see!

Good, we wouldnt want to 'lead' them

The radiator is not a hard job to do at all, when you are ready we can post the procedure, its just a cumbersome job, not hard, you dont need to remove the condenser at all. $1000 is a rip off

One thing some radiators have an internal engine oil cooler, it would be located in the passenger side end tank, take a look to see if you have pipes connected to the pass side tank, if not good, you will just need to remove the tranny cooler lines located in the drivers side tank

Thanks for the help! If you wouldn't mind posting the procedure that would be a huge help. I am going to pick the new radiator up over lunch in about an hour.

I believe I have the EOC, as I see what looks to be a rubber hose coming out of the RH side of the radiator (bottom, passenger side). It has flex-loom around it and it goes into what feels like a steel line. I'll post pics if I can get this camera to work in the dreary weather here. To be clear, I am NOT talking about the 2 steel tranny cooler lines on the LH (driver) side tank. The guy at the radiator shop is going to pull both versions put of their boxes to show me the alternatives.

Thanks again,

MJM

Sounds like you have both the transmission cooler and the engine oil cooler. I'm quite sure that you've got the alternator/generator cooler fitting as well. Check for a single line running from the lower end of the side of the radiator facing the engine.

Not much to tell really about the R&R. If you get the right radiator then it will be straight forward job.

I can e-mail you the sequence from the OEM FSM if you PM me (that is if you're planning on doing this yourself).

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Good idea - thanks to you both. I have a line on an aftermarket radiator locally (I think mine has the EOC so it's a little higher, I'll check after dinner). No, they didn't say anything about the HG causing leaking externally; they just called me with the results of the dye test after they determined the radiator had a crack in it as well.

I assume that means that they did a block test and that it indicated exhaust gases in the surge tank? Not as likely on a 2000+, but not unheard of either. Fix the leak and ignore it. If in fact it is in the early stages of a HG failure, it will let you know soon enough. That you won't be able to ignore.

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I assume that means that they did a block test and that it indicated exhaust gases in the surge tank? Not as likely on a 2000+, but not unheard of either. Fix the leak and ignore it.

Your assumption is correct - they said exactly that (block test, exhaust gasses in cooling system).

Well, I have the new radiator in the backseat and I am on the way home to swap the old one out. Thanks much for the advice :)

If in fact it is in the early stages of a HG failure, it will let you know soon enough. That you won't be able to ignore.

If they did their due diligence and performed the test, and gasses were truly present, could this be indicative of something else? Or are you saying that perhaps they threw out a canned response to an unlikely scenario?

MJM

<!--fonto:Arial--><span style="font-family:Arial"><!--/fonto-->2007 DTS Performance - 50K

<!--fontc--></span><!--/fontc-->

As a matter of fact, I <i>am</i> driving 70 MPH in a phone booth.

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They had NO cause to test for combustion by products in the coolant, NONE AT ALL, the question is, why were they being such NICE GUYS and doing so?

They were to check for a LEAK, PERIOD..

This is suspect, yes you MAY have a HG problem but its very curious if you ask me. I have come to a point where I DO NOT trust GM dealers intent anymore. MY friend has a 2008 CTS the timing chains went bad, they told her to rent a car, THEN charged GM for the rental car.... thieves

They had NO CAUSE to test your coolant for combustion by products

Pre-1995 - DTC codes OBD1  >>

1996 and newer - DTC codes OBD2 >> https://www.obd-codes.com/trouble_codes/gm/obd_codes.htm

How to check for codes Caddyinfo How To Technical Archive >> http://www.caddyinfo.com/wordpress/cadillac-how-to-faq/

Cadillac History & Specifications Year by Year  http://www.motorera.com/cadillac/index.htm

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They had NO cause to test for combustion by products in the coolant, NONE AT ALL, the question is, why were they being such NICE GUYS and doing so?

They were to check for a LEAK, PERIOD..

This is suspect, yes you MAY have a HG problem but its very curious if you ask me. I have come to a point where I DO NOT trust GM dealers intent anymore. MY friend has a 2008 CTS the timing chains went bad, they told her to rent a car, THEN charged GM for the rental car.... thieves

They had NO CAUSE to test your coolant for combustion by products

Amen to that. It would be quite expected for them to have checked for combustion if I came in with white exhaust, overheating, etc. Or if they were not able to find an easier source for the cause of the leak (other than a hemhorraging radiator haha).

Based on what you are saying, along with Ranger and others, I am not going to go looking for a problem. Thanks to CI (and Jan for the FSM excerpts thank you thank you), I spent about four (leisurely paced) hours successfully replacing the radiator tonight. I could see along the entire right side where the problem originated. And BBF, "cumbersome" is an apt description of the process indeed :)

Oh well, the work was fun, took it out for a spin and found no leaks afterward. Ha - I finally used up the rest of my pellets from the Eldorado DIY days ;)

A HUGE "Thank You" to everyone here for making this so smooth. I'll post more if new developments crop up.

MJM

<!--fonto:Arial--><span style="font-family:Arial"><!--/fonto-->2007 DTS Performance - 50K

<!--fontc--></span><!--/fontc-->

As a matter of fact, I <i>am</i> driving 70 MPH in a phone booth.

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Success! Glad it worked out OK, with a little nudge from our members... You saved some cash

Pre-1995 - DTC codes OBD1  >>

1996 and newer - DTC codes OBD2 >> https://www.obd-codes.com/trouble_codes/gm/obd_codes.htm

How to check for codes Caddyinfo How To Technical Archive >> http://www.caddyinfo.com/wordpress/cadillac-how-to-faq/

Cadillac History & Specifications Year by Year  http://www.motorera.com/cadillac/index.htm

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I have come to a point where I DO NOT trust GM dealers intent anymore. MY friend has a 2008 CTS the timing chains went bad, they told her to rent a car, THEN charged GM for the rental car.... thieves

Thieves? No, you MUST be mistaken [/sarcasm]

This is the same dealership (Huber Cadillac/Chevrolet/Hummer) that I had the misfortune of working with:

http://www.ketv.com/money/10284879/detail.html

http://www.abcmoney.co.uk/news/15200740336.htm

I had almost forgotten about this story over time. To think they may also have shennanigans going on in their service department as well is not too far fetched. Sheesh.

MJM

<!--fonto:Arial--><span style="font-family:Arial"><!--/fonto-->2007 DTS Performance - 50K

<!--fontc--></span><!--/fontc-->

As a matter of fact, I <i>am</i> driving 70 MPH in a phone booth.

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Success! Glad it worked out OK, with a little nudge from our members... You saved some cash

Yes, I did. As soon as I get home (can't go to PayPal from work) I will be helping the cause :)

<!--fonto:Arial--><span style="font-family:Arial"><!--/fonto-->2007 DTS Performance - 50K

<!--fontc--></span><!--/fontc-->

As a matter of fact, I <i>am</i> driving 70 MPH in a phone booth.

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Success! Glad it worked out OK, with a little nudge from our members... You saved some cash

Yes, I did. As soon as I get home (can't go to PayPal from work) I will be helping the cause :)

Thank you kindly!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year

Pre-1995 - DTC codes OBD1  >>

1996 and newer - DTC codes OBD2 >> https://www.obd-codes.com/trouble_codes/gm/obd_codes.htm

How to check for codes Caddyinfo How To Technical Archive >> http://www.caddyinfo.com/wordpress/cadillac-how-to-faq/

Cadillac History & Specifications Year by Year  http://www.motorera.com/cadillac/index.htm

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