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Would you fix this car? 2004 Honda Civic Radiator


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Husband and son kept driving car while it was over heating. Husband also skipped maintenance items, like radiator flush. Now the car quickly overheats. Took it in to see what was wrong and how much it would cost to fix. It is basically over $2000 for repairs and then there are some maintenance items. Physically, the car is in good shape with a nice clean interior and exterior.  The place we go to is pretty honest and they tell me the rest of the car looks to be in excellent shape and should run us well, as long as we keep up with the maintenance this time.

Edited by Janeway
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6 minutes ago, Janeway said:

Husband and son kept driving car while it was over heating. Husband also skipped maintenance items, like radiator flush. Now the car quickly overheats. Took it in to see what was wrong and how much it would cost to fix. It is basically over $2000 for repairs and then there are some maintenance items. Physically, the car is in good shape with a nice clean interior and exterior.  The place we go to is pretty honest and they tell me the rest of the car looks to be in excellent shape and should run us well, as long as we keep up with the maintenance this time.

Is it definitely the radiator causing the problem? If so I think I would fix it. Mine had those symptoms and it was the head gasket.

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How high is the mileage?  A 2004 Civic is old, but it's a Honda so it should go a good long while.  I've known people whose Hondas have gone 300,000 miles. My family's practice is to keep repairing until it's completely impractical, such as when our Suburban blew the head gasket. (And TCB is correct to wonder about that, based on my experience.) Right now I hear there is a shortage of used vehicles so that would factor into my thinking. 

For reference, we have a 1997 Escort that we recently put $800 into to avoid the difficulty of looking for a car for our college kid. The mechanic said that between that and some work my husband and son did on it themselves (replacing rusted-out floorboards), we could probably sell it for $1000 right now.  Since we were practically given the car 10 years ago, it seemed very much worth it to buy ourselves some more time with it. 

Edited by marbel
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3 minutes ago, marbel said:

How high is the mileage?  A 2004 Civic is old, but it's a Honda so it should go a good long while.  I've known people whose Hondas have gone 300,000 miles. My family's practice is to keep repairing until it's completely impractical, such as when our Suburban blew the head gasket. (And TCB is correct to wonder about that, based on my experience.) Right now I hear there is a shortage of used vehicles so that would factor into my thinking. 

For reference, we have a 1997 Escort that we recently put $800 into to avoid the difficulty of looking for a car for our college kid. The mechanic said that between that and some work my husband and son did on it themselves (replacing rusted-out floorboards), we could probably sell it for $1000 right now.  Since we were practically given the car 10 years ago, it seemed very much worth it to buy ourselves some more time with it. 

Let than 200K

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We probably would. 
 

We put $3k into an Odyssey 4 years ago and we just got rid of it this past week.

We put $2k into another vehicle 2 years ago and it is still going.

Anything decently reliable here starts at $6k, and is more likely $10k. $2k is 4-6 months of a new car payment.

That seems like a decent calculated gamble to repair.

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20 minutes ago, Janeway said:

Let than 200K

FWIW -- We replaced a radiator on our 2001 CRV a few years ago and then drove it until last year. IIRC it had a little over 237,000 miles on it when we sold it, and it still ran fine.

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@JanewayAre your mechanics able to guarantee you that the repair will not exceed a certain amount of money?  My fear would be that after they tear into the engine, that there will be more damage than they are assuming and that then the repair will become much more costly and possibly require a replacement motor.

Here are a couple of old stories:

(1) Many years ago, a late Aunt or late Uncle was driving on a freeway in L.A.  The car was overheating.  The area was too dangerous to stop in so the driver continued going.  As I recall, that destroyed the engine.

(2) Many years later, I was driving East on an Interstate in the State of Kansas. The real (without wind chill) temperature was approximately 20 degrees F.   The engine was running very hot, but not so hot that I needed to pull over to the side of the road and wait for a Kansas Highway Patrol car to come along.  I had a directory of Toyota Services places in the Glove Compartment and carefully got that out and read it for Kansas and I found the nearest Toyota dealer.  The car was fully loaded and I had my dog with me and thankfully they were completely honest with me (car had Texas tags).  It was something very minor. I don't think it was the Radiator Cap or the Thermostat, possibly the Water Pump.  I was there 1 or 2 nights and then I was on my way.  I always appreciated my Toyota mechanic for being so competent and so honest and was and am thankful that Toyota Service department was so honest with someone who was enroute and with a dog.   On the highway and out-of-state one is more vulnerable to being taken advantage of but they were very honest with me.

To summarize, I am concerned what "hidden damage" the motor might have and would like to see your mechanic(s) give you an absolute maximum cost to have the car in good condition after the overheating incident(s).

Good luck!

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I would probably fix it if it's getting a lot of use unless you were planning to get something much newer.  It's a reliable car with good safety ratings for its age/size.  DH recently got read-ended and we spent the first week unsure if we would even get the car back.  In that time we shopped for a replacement and found out that there is a serious supply/demand issue going on right now.  We decided we'd rather share a car and occasionally rent than get at the end of the line to overpay for something we don't even like.  Luckily they ended up fixing his car.

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