'97 A4 2.8 Q needs new radiator - big job?!

Looks like my coolant leak is due to a problem at the plastic neck, so I'm told I need a new radiator. I was quoted $272 (CAD) by my mechanic, usually 'decent' on parts in the past. I see a bunch on eBay for half
the price or less (incl. shipping!), so I'm tempted by that, but my mechanic says it's a BIG job to replace the rad as the front bumper needs to come off, and something else 'big' I forget now.
Is that true? Or should I be taking it somewhere else (radiator specialist, perhaps)?
If it's true, then I probably should be doing some other service at the same time, I imagine. Could be time to do the timing belt, I would think...anything else to do at the same time in there?
I'm a fair novice at cars, so be gentle... :D
Bart
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(5-spd manual transmission, FYI - I understand it takes a different rad than the auto transmission model)
Bart Oleksy wrote:

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Bart Oleksy wrote:

The $272 price seems about right for the radiator R&R.
Removing the front end is required but that really isn't much of a job but as long as it is off it would be a good time to replace the timing belt, water pump, thermostat, idler pulley and tensioner which will also require a drain and fill of the correct antifreeze. This job should be done every 60K to 70K or four years. If you are at that or close get it done. The cost of this also includes removing the front end of the car so you can kill two birds ...
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TonyJ wrote:

It would already be done if that was the total cost, but unfortunately, the $272 is the price quoted to me for just the radiator itself, and an estimate of 6-8 hours for the labor (at $83/hr!) so it's looking like a huge expense at this point.

Right - that's the kind of suggestion I was looking for...if I do go ahead with the big labor-intensive job for the radiator, I "may as well" get some other stuff done that would need the same kind of access.
Just checking with the former owner on when the timing belt was done last...I've had it for a year, and had this note on it from late 2006: " -just had $1700 of Audi service -timing belt, water pump, front control arms, tie rods, etc."
And I haven't put *that* many miles on it in the past year. so depending on the rest was done, looks like the timing belt and water pump are OK for a while.
Any safe way to at least temporarily seal the leak on a plastic radiator? At or near the neck, apparently... if I could get it to hold on until it was really time for the timing belt & such... </dream off>
Thanks for the replies!
Bart
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Bart Oleksy wrote:

Your T Belt sounds OK.
Depending where the leak is a repair might be possible. I have had success on my wife's radiator by applying JB Weld to a crack on the plastic top of the radiator. It held until after we sold the car.
Fixing it with the new radiator is preferred. 6-8 hours seems VERY high. An indy mechanic friend of mine just said that he did a complete T Belt job on a 2.8 in just over three hours. Get more estimates.
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TonyJ wrote:

*snip*
Sounds worth exploring! I'll find out exactly where the crack is and see if this might at least plug the leak until I figure out what else to do.

Will do - appreciate the advice here very much...keep it up!
Bart
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If it was $272 installed then I would do it, the entire front end does have to be removed and while not a big deal, it IS time consuming (read: $$). You don't say what mileage is on the car, or how long it's been since the TB was replaced. If you're still on the original, then it is time for sure, regardless of mileage.
Dan D '04 A4 1.8Tq MT-6 Central NJ USA
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Dano58 wrote:

Dan, I did discover that the timing belt was changed not *too* long ago, so should be OK there. Mileage is quite high, but so far doing quite well overall, and I do feel better knowing that the timing belt & such isn't as likely to go on me.
Appreciate your reply - learning a lot from all you posters, thanks!
Bart
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