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2003 Jetta Radiator Leak #4565128
11/05/17 05:20 PM
11/05/17 05:20 PM
Joined: Sep 2013
Posts: 102
ny
llmercll Offline OP
llmercll  Offline OP
Joined: Sep 2013
Posts: 102
ny
Hi everyone,

My Jetta has a radiator leak in the top left. It's a 650$ repair and I'm short on money right now since I just moved. The leak is slow enough that I only need to top off my overflow bottle once a day.

What are my options for this issue besides paying for a proper repair? I realize it's unlikely anything can fix the problem, but I imagine it may buy me some time.

Has anyone had good results with Bar's Stopleak?

If I could find the hole could I try some epoxy over it or something?

What about just letting it go and topping it off every night?

Thanks!

Re: 2003 Jetta Radiator Leak [Re: llmercll] #4565132
11/05/17 05:25 PM
11/05/17 05:25 PM
Joined: Sep 2016
Posts: 524
Fairfax, VA
TinyVoices Offline
TinyVoices  Offline
Joined: Sep 2016
Posts: 524
Fairfax, VA
Hit the junkyard and get a new radiator. I owned a mk4 VW. You can do the radiator swap yourself in one afternoon.


2010 Mazda RX8 Sport - 37k miles - ????
2006 Toyota Matrix XR AWD (Wife) - 130k miles - Valvoline Max Life 5w30
Re: 2003 Jetta Radiator Leak [Re: llmercll] #4565135
11/05/17 05:26 PM
11/05/17 05:26 PM
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 16,183
OH
fdcg27 Offline
fdcg27  Offline
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 16,183
OH
This is most likely either rot or failed plastic and it might quickly get worse.
The only cure is a new rad.
If you google around, you can certainly find one for less than six-fiddy and installation shouldn't be too difficult.
Check Rock Auto as a first resort.


18 Accord Hybrid FF
17 Forester 18K VME 0W-20
12 Accord LX 96K SSO 0W-20
09 Forester 95K M1HM 10W-30
01 Focus ZX3 118K PP 5W-20
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95 318i
Re: 2003 Jetta Radiator Leak [Re: llmercll] #4565136
11/05/17 05:29 PM
11/05/17 05:29 PM
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 515
Fort Worth TX
TheKracken Offline
TheKracken  Offline
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 515
Fort Worth TX
Willing to DIY? Most radiators are not all that difficult to replace...my beautiful wife that doesn't know jack about cars (until she met me of course) was able to change the radiator on my truck after I had surgery. You can do it too. Shop amazon and you might be able to get away with a 50-150$ radiator, look at reviews.


2011 Prius 96k miles RLI 5w20
97 Toy T100 4x4: amsoil 0w20 242k Miles
04 Toy Sienna awd: Pennzoil 0w20 281k Miles
Re: 2003 Jetta Radiator Leak [Re: llmercll] #4565141
11/05/17 05:33 PM
11/05/17 05:33 PM
Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 5,242
Texas
JustinH Offline
JustinH  Offline
Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 5,242
Texas
How can a radiator job be $650?

An aftermarket radiator for a mk4 jetta is between $40-$100 depending on brand.

I would youtube it and DIY.

I replaced radiators in my toyota cars before its a one hour job even for non mechanics.


'11 Hyundai Sonata GLS
'11 Scion XB
Re: 2003 Jetta Radiator Leak [Re: llmercll] #4565154
11/05/17 05:43 PM
11/05/17 05:43 PM
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 12,634
The Old North State
Sayjac Offline
Sayjac  Offline
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 12,634
The Old North State
If new radiator and/or diy not feasable now, THE most recommended product on bitog for radiator leaks is Bars Leaks Tablets. AC Delco tabs the same.

https://www.amazon.com/Bars-Leaks-HDC-Radiator-Tablet/dp/B000KKND3Q

Re: 2003 Jetta Radiator Leak [Re: llmercll] #4565183
11/05/17 06:09 PM
11/05/17 06:09 PM
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 17,501
Clovis, CA
Merkava_4 Offline
Merkava_4  Offline
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 17,501
Clovis, CA
For the cost of the repair, you can buy a new radiator. Check RockAuto.

Re: 2003 Jetta Radiator Leak [Re: JustinH] #4565187
11/05/17 06:15 PM
11/05/17 06:15 PM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 17,815
Deplorable in apple valley, ca
Chris142 Offline
Chris142  Offline
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 17,815
Deplorable in apple valley, ca
Originally Posted By: JustinH
How can a radiator job be $650?

An aftermarket radiator for a mk4 jetta is between $40-$100 depending on brand.

I would youtube it and DIY.

I replaced radiators in my toyota cars before its a one hour job even for non mechanics.

5 hrs labor plus evac and recharge the ac


02 Wrangler carlube 5w30
87 F250 traveler 15w40
07 fjcruiser Chevron 10w30
Z400 castrol T 10w40
Can am maveric edge 5w40
57 case tractor 15w40
Re: 2003 Jetta Radiator Leak [Re: Chris142] #4565207
11/05/17 06:37 PM
11/05/17 06:37 PM
Joined: Dec 2011
Posts: 5,102
North Carolina
rooflessVW Online content
rooflessVW  Online Content
Joined: Dec 2011
Posts: 5,102
North Carolina
Originally Posted By: Chris142
5 hrs labor plus evac and recharge the ac

That is correct, by the book. More or less the entire front of the car needs removed.

You do not need to disconnect the AC condenser though, you can just move it away.


"Zed's dead baby, Zed's dead."
Re: 2003 Jetta Radiator Leak [Re: Chris142] #4565209
11/05/17 06:38 PM
11/05/17 06:38 PM
Joined: Sep 2016
Posts: 524
Fairfax, VA
TinyVoices Offline
TinyVoices  Offline
Joined: Sep 2016
Posts: 524
Fairfax, VA
Originally Posted By: Chris142
Originally Posted By: JustinH
How can a radiator job be $650?

An aftermarket radiator for a mk4 jetta is between $40-$100 depending on brand.

I would youtube it and DIY.

I replaced radiators in my toyota cars before its a one hour job even for non mechanics.

5 hrs labor plus evac and recharge the ac


Ridiculous. I've done the same job in 2 hours. Ac costs $150 to have charged.


2010 Mazda RX8 Sport - 37k miles - ????
2006 Toyota Matrix XR AWD (Wife) - 130k miles - Valvoline Max Life 5w30
Re: 2003 Jetta Radiator Leak [Re: TinyVoices] #4565218
11/05/17 06:49 PM
11/05/17 06:49 PM
Joined: Dec 2011
Posts: 5,102
North Carolina
rooflessVW Online content
rooflessVW  Online Content
Joined: Dec 2011
Posts: 5,102
North Carolina
Originally Posted By: TinyVoices
Originally Posted By: Chris142
Originally Posted By: JustinH
How can a radiator job be $650?

An aftermarket radiator for a mk4 jetta is between $40-$100 depending on brand.

I would youtube it and DIY.

I replaced radiators in my toyota cars before its a one hour job even for non mechanics.

5 hrs labor plus evac and recharge the ac

Ridiculous. I've done the same job in 2 hours. Ac costs $150 to have charged.

Ok so:

$100 for aftermarket rad
$200 for 2hrs labor
$150 to have the AC charged.

Seems that $650 isn't too far off there, especially if the price includes an OE rad.

But why should a mechanic make any money?


"Zed's dead baby, Zed's dead."
Re: 2003 Jetta Radiator Leak [Re: llmercll] #4565221
11/05/17 06:56 PM
11/05/17 06:56 PM
Joined: Sep 2014
Posts: 1,486
Seattle-ish, WA
Oro_O Offline
Oro_O  Offline
Joined: Sep 2014
Posts: 1,486
Seattle-ish, WA
Well, if you have a set of sockets and a few torx bits, this is a $60 repair.

This looks like a straightforward r&r, no a/c work involved:

http://forums.tdiclub.com/showthread.php?t=330782

Amazon has the radiator for $45 delivered 2-day/prime (it says "used" but it is an open box return or cosmetic blem):

https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B000C7VYSI/ref=dp_olp_all_mbc?ie=UTF8&condition=all

Add a gallon each of the right blood type of Pentofrost and of distilled and you're done. $60.


Re: 2003 Jetta Radiator Leak [Re: llmercll] #4565237
11/05/17 07:20 PM
11/05/17 07:20 PM
Joined: Nov 2013
Posts: 1,950
Chicago, IL
EdwardC Offline
EdwardC  Offline
Joined: Nov 2013
Posts: 1,950
Chicago, IL
A few years ago, my Element went through 2 radiators over the course of a few months. At that point, I found that there was a metal bracket that was loose that was rattling against the radiator, eventually causing it to leak through. I found the leak by using a pressure testing kit, saw exactly where the coolant was shooting out.

I didn't have time to do the replacement again, so what I did was empty out the coolant, then use some Quiksteel epoxy putty to put over the hole. I put the cooling system under a slight vacuum with a hand vacuum pump hoping to help suck in the epoxy. 2 years later, it's still holding. I expected it to start leaking after the first winter. I even bought a new radiator, I just haven't put it in.

I'd personally be a little worried about putting anything into the coolant to try seal the leak, just in case it damages anything else.

Re: 2003 Jetta Radiator Leak [Re: llmercll] #4565392
11/05/17 09:58 PM
11/05/17 09:58 PM
Joined: Sep 2015
Posts: 3,939
Connecticut
69GTX Offline
69GTX  Offline
Joined: Sep 2015
Posts: 3,939
Connecticut
Replacing the radiator is the easy part. It's removing all the interference (such as cooling fan assemblies and radiator hoses/clamps) and reinstalling it that is the harder part. Coolant hoses and clamps can be a bit touchy when trying to remove/reinstall/reseal them. My mechanic charged me $600 for a radiator diagnosis and replace. Turned out the leak was from the internal transmission cooler. The radiator was cheap. The labor wasn't. If it happened again, I'd probably tackle the job myself - having to remove much of the front end of the car.


----------------

2001 Lincoln Cont 4.6L DOHC/ 39K mi / QS HM 5w30 / FUG XG2
1999 Camaro SS M6 /19K /Mobil 1 0w40 /Fram UG /GM MTL-ATF
1969 Ply GTX/RRs
Re: 2003 Jetta Radiator Leak [Re: 69GTX] #4565408
11/05/17 10:12 PM
11/05/17 10:12 PM
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 17,501
Clovis, CA
Merkava_4 Offline
Merkava_4  Offline
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 17,501
Clovis, CA
Originally Posted By: 69GTX
My mechanic charged me $600 for a radiator diagnosis and replace.


How much would it have been for the diagnosis without the replace ?

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