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Coolant system sudden failure?

 
Old 03-02-2019, 09:13 PM
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Angry Coolant system sudden failure?

Hey guys,

Took my TL 08 (160,000 mi) to Drive in AutoSound today to get a window tint. After agreeing to get a $230 job, dropped vehicle off and headed home. 20 minutes later I received a call recommending a felt lining for windows for additional $250, I said no. Another 10 mins later they called me saying that my vehicle was leaking fluids and I need to come take a look. When I got back to the store, my vehcial was in the garage with my fluids all over their shop floor. My hood was also up, and my reservoir cap was unscrewed.

There were a lot of fluid on the floor, and it looked like oil/coolant/transmission mixed together. My Coolant reservoir tank was filled with dark purple/ blackish goop (almost as if it was filled with a quart of oil). I started the vehical and fluids starting spilling all over their floor. I used their hydrolic jack to lift the car, pooped the plastic protector off the front underside of the vehical, started the engine, no visable leaks, until the fan kicked in, then everything started coming out the top of radiator reservoir cap rapidly.

Drove home, automatic transmission was barely grabbing gears, drained radiator (oily-trany fluid came out), filled back up with 50/50, started, same thing, same goop pumped out of the reservoir cap again. Checked trans fluid, dry as a bone (and I topped trans fluid off less than 7 days ago).

I do my own maintance on vehcial, check oil & trans fluid regularly, and the vehicle has been operating perfectly fine, and was fine when I dropped it off. All this suddenly came about in the 20 feet they pulled the car into their garage, after I had left. Besides flushing the system multiple times, do you think I need to replace the Radiator? And, have any of you encountered anything like this before?


when i came back to shop

coolant shouldnt look like this

Looks like oil


Fluids other than coolant at high speeds coming out of cap

leaking again after draining radiator and replacing with 50/50 mix

Draining radiator
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Old 03-02-2019, 10:13 PM
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Looks like your radiator failed internally. ATF lines run through the bottom of the radiator. I've heard of it failing and causing coolant/ATF to mix.
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Old 03-02-2019, 10:17 PM
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Do you know if swapping that radiator out and then flushing both ATF and coolant will get it back up and running?
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Old 03-02-2019, 10:21 PM
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It's worth a shot but I would be seriously worried about the transmission having ingested a bunch of coolant. I guess the $100 radiator + fluids is a lot less than a new trans. I'd attempt to replace and flush both the motor and trans.
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Old 03-02-2019, 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by SolaceatNight View Post
Do you know if swapping that radiator out and then flushing both ATF and coolant will get it back up and running?
That might work but you may have done a significant amount of damage to your transmission by driving it after the cooler failed and you drove it home from the shop. Ordinarily it is HIGHLY recommended to avoid a machine ATF flush at all cost for Honda transmissions, but in your case it may be the best course of action, have your car towed to a Honda or Acura dealership and have the tranny flushed.

The above said, it may be too late and you may need not only a new radiator, but a remanufactured transmission.
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Old 03-03-2019, 11:08 AM
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Same thing happened to me about 6 years ago, I was driving then pulled into a store. Driver behind me pulled in and said my car was smoking, I had a trail of coolant/trans fluid. The car had 112,000 miles, it was the radiator that cracked, tank underneath. I called the dealer & they said DON'T start it & DON'T DRIVE IT. Had it towed and $700 later it had new radiator. I'd be concerned that by driving it you seriously damaged the transmission.
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Old 03-03-2019, 03:09 PM
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+1 on everyone. Radiator is bad. Get a new one (Denso) from Amazon. 2 gallons of Honda Type 2 blue coolant. I'd also get a couple bottles of universal ATF to flush out the transmission to try and get out as much of the coolant as possible and then finally replace it with Honda DW-1 . Pop open both fill and drain bolts and pour it through. The universal ATF is just to cut costs on using just DW-1 the whole flush process. Alternatively, you can just go get it flushed professionally somewhere
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Old 03-04-2019, 08:17 PM
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Replaced radiator today, took steps advised on pouring transmission fluid through both bolts.
When I popped trans fluid drain bolt, a lot of green coolant first came out, following murky trans fluid. Poured trans fluid through until only bright red trans fluid came out, then filled with 3 quarts Valvoline Maxlife (to hold me over until I can get Honda DW1). Took for a short spin, went through all gears, checked trans fluid afterwards, no fluid on dip stick, only bubbly watery pink (I'll be doing another flush tomorrow morning).

Only issues were I did not notice radiator fan did not kick on, though car heating system was working.
Gear shifting performing much better than last time I drove home.
Everything feels overall better as of now
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Old 03-05-2019, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by mdnborg View Post
Looks like your radiator failed internally. ATF lines run through the bottom of the radiator. I've heard of it failing and causing coolant/ATF to mix.
Been a real common issue with the Nissan Armada.
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Old 03-05-2019, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by SolaceatNight View Post
Replaced radiator today, took steps advised on pouring transmission fluid through both bolts.
When I popped trans fluid drain bolt, a lot of green coolant first came out, following murky trans fluid. Poured trans fluid through until only bright red trans fluid came out, then filled with 3 quarts Valvoline Maxlife (to hold me over until I can get Honda DW1). Took for a short spin, went through all gears, checked trans fluid afterwards, no fluid on dip stick, only bubbly watery pink (I'll be doing another flush tomorrow morning).

Only issues were I did not notice radiator fan did not kick on, though car heating system was working.
Gear shifting performing much better than last time I drove home.
Everything feels overall better as of now
Good luck with that......hope that transmission is fine.
Regarding the fan, just make sure that the connector for the fan is properly reconnected. I replaced my radiator a couple of years ago and although I reconnected the fan (wire and connector about half way up back of radiator), the fan did not work. I jumpered the connector and it kicked in.
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Old 03-05-2019, 07:26 PM
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Hey Quantum7, thankyou! Did some pretty extensive work today and looks like things are going to pan out. Fan is working, everything seems to be in working order now
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Old 03-05-2019, 08:02 PM
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Update 03/05/2019

On the radiator and transmission:

I) Went through and thoroughly flushed transmission via radiator hose in drain bucket w/ engine on, while simultaneously pouring more trans in= 4 gallons of ATF fluid. The Trans pumped boatloads of strawberry milkshake out, but by the end, got the dipstick looking at perfect levels, nice and bright clear red. Transmission is seemingly doing better than before radiator broke (for now).
II) Flushed Radiator 2 more times with water, drained out of petcock, let water circulate through engine first. Coolant looking pretty bright green and friendly by end, though I would like to get a garden hose and flush it out nice and well soon.
III) Radiator fully working, pumping fluids through both major hoses, fans kick on, heat working. Vehicle is actually now driving far smoother than before when bought at 150,000 miles.

A FEW Q's AND A FEW THINGS THAT DON'T ADD UP YET:
1) When initial failure happened, the reservoir was filled with what appeared to be oily, tarry, blackness, and radiator spit out dark brown gunk.... to my understanding, Coolant + ATF= creamy light pink strawberry milkshake, not black oil right? My oil levels are perfect and doesn't seem to appear any of engine oil has interfered with any of this, and after about the second gallon of ATF flushing, I got the strawberry fluid watery mix- than black tar, than brown muck. than bright red. Any ideas?
2) Few days before, checking tras dipstick was dark red, slightly burnt, but not black at all... Not sure what to think.
3) Iv'e received 6 quarts of Honda ATF DWZ from Amazon, though before I received shipment I loaded up with $25 of 3.5 Quarts CASTROL TRANSMAX ATF. Would it be worth switching immediately now that things seem to be running very smoothe? I also have not installed external filter YET.
4) With only slight fragments of oily/ trany garbage in my cooling system/ radiator, am I safe to take a breather before draining again?
5) Talked to Honda dealership. They said if any water at all got into transmission, than it is only a matter of time before my trany ultimatly fails due to a adhesive inside the trany that degrades when it makes contact with water. Is this true and is there a semi-non-difficult way of doing this a cheaper way than replacing the whole thing?

Thanks for everyone's help and comments!
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Old 03-08-2019, 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by thoiboi View Post
... Radiator is bad. Get a new one (Denso) from Amazon....
Just got one delivered by Amazon. Its cheap, because its made in China. Is the Honda labeled radiator made by Denso Japan?
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Old 03-08-2019, 11:22 AM
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My take on those Q's:

1. That could be due to the reaction between the ATF and coolant over time or the crap in your cooling system. Either way, if your motor oil isn't frothy or looks like a root beer float, you should be fine.
2. Same as 1.
3. I'd do two 3qt. drains with the DW-1. Go a few miles in between to mix everything up. You won't remove all the Castrol but you'll get a good deal of DW-1 in there which has the right additives and formula for the AT. I highly doubt you're going to do any harm with the Castrol stuff but I can't speak to it long term.
4. Yes. The cooling system is nowhere as fragile as the motor and AT. You're not going to damage any seals or jam up any cooling veins in the block with a tiny bit of ATF in there.
5. First, you never know how much damage occurred. There's really no point in speculating. There's no way to tell without disassembling it and as long as it's functioning correctly, I'd just leave it alone. Second, no, there really is no better way to fix the AT in the long term without straight up replacing it. On that note, I wouldn't consider a rebuild. Just get a replacement from a low mileage TL from a scrap yard. That's going to be a safer bet. A band-aid would be to pour in some Lucas stop-slip if you start to have problems. That stuff has about a 50% success rate or so. But that's definitely a band aid. Not a long term fix.
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Old 03-13-2019, 08:52 AM
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Update

Have been driving for over a week now, vehicle has functioned better than expected.
One thing I did notice yesterday, was before the car had a chance to warm up while in park/reverse, the rpm's were falling pretty low/ rough idle.
This is the first time I've experienced this.
I'm not sure if this would be due to previous transmission damage, or another issue coming up.
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Old 03-13-2019, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by ifeliciano View Post
Just got one delivered by Amazon. Its cheap, because its made in China. Is the Honda labeled radiator made by Denso Japan?
Yes, the OEM radiator is made by DENSO
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Old 03-13-2019, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by ifeliciano View Post
Just got one delivered by Amazon. Its cheap, because its made in China. Is the Honda labeled radiator made by Denso Japan?
When you say "cheap" do you mean inexpensive or inferior quality.

FWIW, I've visited several manufacturing plants in China (and other Asian countries), and yes, some produce products of questionable quality, however, others produce very high quality stuff. A lot has to do with the requirements of the company contracting the work and their QC and Oversight models.

Regarding Chinese made Denso radiators, so far at least, I've never heard of any being called "cheap" as in "inferior".
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