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#4565128 - 11/05/17 05:20 PM 2003 Jetta Radiator Leak
llmercll Offline


Registered: 09/01/13
Posts: 100
Loc: 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!

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#4565132 - 11/05/17 05:25 PM Re: 2003 Jetta Radiator Leak [Re: llmercll]
TinyVoices Offline


Registered: 09/12/16
Posts: 486
Loc: Vienna, VA
Hit the junkyard and get a new radiator. I owned a mk4 VW. You can do the radiator swap yourself in one afternoon.
_________________________
1993 Toyota MR2 Hardtop N/A - 157k miles - Valvoline Max Life 5w30
2006 Toyota Matrix XR AWD (Fiancee) - 126k miles - Valvoline Max Life 5w30

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#4565135 - 11/05/17 05:26 PM Re: 2003 Jetta Radiator Leak [Re: llmercll]
fdcg27 Offline


Registered: 09/25/09
Posts: 15730
Loc: 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.
_________________________
17 Forester 12K MSS 0W-20
12 Accord LX 86K PP 5W-20
09 Forester 95K M1HM 10W-30
01 Focus ZX3 118K PP 5W-20
96 Accord LX 104K T5 10W-30
95 318i

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#4565136 - 11/05/17 05:29 PM Re: 2003 Jetta Radiator Leak [Re: llmercll]
TheKracken Offline


Registered: 04/18/17
Posts: 515
Loc: 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
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#4565141 - 11/05/17 05:33 PM Re: 2003 Jetta Radiator Leak [Re: llmercll]
JustinH Offline


Registered: 04/17/04
Posts: 5186
Loc: 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
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#4565154 - 11/05/17 05:43 PM Re: 2003 Jetta Radiator Leak [Re: llmercll]
Sayjac Offline


Registered: 10/13/08
Posts: 12275
Loc: 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

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#4565183 - 11/05/17 06:09 PM Re: 2003 Jetta Radiator Leak [Re: llmercll]
Merkava_4 Offline


Registered: 01/30/07
Posts: 17501
Loc: Clovis, CA
For the cost of the repair, you can buy a new radiator. Check RockAuto.

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#4565187 - 11/05/17 06:15 PM Re: 2003 Jetta Radiator Leak [Re: JustinH]
Chris142 Online   content


Registered: 06/05/03
Posts: 16844
Loc: 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
_________________________
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#4565207 - 11/05/17 06:37 PM Re: 2003 Jetta Radiator Leak [Re: Chris142]
rooflessVW Online   content


Registered: 12/24/11
Posts: 4096
Loc: 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."

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#4565209 - 11/05/17 06:38 PM Re: 2003 Jetta Radiator Leak [Re: Chris142]
TinyVoices Offline


Registered: 09/12/16
Posts: 486
Loc: Vienna, 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.
_________________________
1993 Toyota MR2 Hardtop N/A - 157k miles - Valvoline Max Life 5w30
2006 Toyota Matrix XR AWD (Fiancee) - 126k miles - Valvoline Max Life 5w30

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#4565218 - 11/05/17 06:49 PM Re: 2003 Jetta Radiator Leak [Re: TinyVoices]
rooflessVW Online   content


Registered: 12/24/11
Posts: 4096
Loc: 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."

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#4565221 - 11/05/17 06:56 PM Re: 2003 Jetta Radiator Leak [Re: llmercll]
Oro_O Offline


Registered: 09/20/14
Posts: 1352
Loc: 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.


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#4565237 - 11/05/17 07:20 PM Re: 2003 Jetta Radiator Leak [Re: llmercll]
EdwardC Offline


Registered: 11/14/13
Posts: 1864
Loc: 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.

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#4565392 - 11/05/17 09:58 PM Re: 2003 Jetta Radiator Leak [Re: llmercll]
69GTX Offline


Registered: 09/23/15
Posts: 3815
Loc: 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

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#4565408 - 11/05/17 10:12 PM Re: 2003 Jetta Radiator Leak [Re: 69GTX]
Merkava_4 Offline


Registered: 01/30/07
Posts: 17501
Loc: 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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