Replacing Radiator Honda CRV 1997

Hi all,
I just got an estimate for $760 to fix my radiator and I simply don't have the option to pay for it. Of course, replacing the whole car isn't any more feasible.
I found radiators online for the CRV 1997 for less than $100 and I'm wondering what the chances are I can just replace it myself.
Step-by-step websites make it look easy, but they are all generic and I have no idea how it translates for my particular car.
My car experience is nil (changed tires, oil, and spark plugs, that's it), but I think I have a knack for fixing stuff. I don't really see any other option anyway.
Is this possible? Will I need any special tools?
Thanks, K
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I don't know what amount you can afford but according to published data on Alldata, which is a source for parts and labor information ( like Chiltons or Motors ) used throughout the country, it says the price for the Honda rad from Honda is $371.39. The labor is 1.8 hours and add .2 for automatic transmission. Now, unless the labor rate in your area is around $195/hr, I think your dealer is trying to retire early on the backs of his customers. But then, what else is new? Ask him what labor time he's using and his hourly labor. If he's out of range then quote the dealer the recommended labor rate from Alldata and ask if he can install an aftermarket rad that he or you supplies for that amount of labor time. There are some excellent non-oem rads made that are high quality and are a true bolt-in. Some don't fit well at all. A brand I'm familiar with is Koyo. There are others. You may also try a local independent Honda repair shop. Their labor will be less and they probably would gladly install either rad in your car. Just be sure they use Honda coolant and no substitutes. Good luck!
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Thanks for looking this up. In the meantime I priced shopped and found the everyone else offered to do a radiator replacement for $450, so I'm a little angry that they tried to rip me off, especially b/c they've been operating in my home town for as long as I remember. I would tell them, but I'm afraid they'll purposely damage the radiator, which I'm not convinced is even broken anymore.
I'm still curious if this is something I could do myself though. Seems like a long-term investment to acquire such skills.
Thanks again, K
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The dealer did not try to "rip" you off.
The other places will be selling you an aftermarket rad, which is hundreds cheaper than the genuine Honda rad the dealer would sell.
Plus the dealer's hourly shop rate will be higher, reflecting the better training and equipment that they have versus most indpendents.

You offer no reasons why you wanted to change the rad in the first place..

Sure can, but it is involved.

Yes, it most certainly is.
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Tegger

The Unofficial Honda/Acura FAQ
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It actually wasn't a dealer, but I guess they could still be trying to sell my the geniune radiator. I'm not sure why they wouldn't offer the aftermarketradiators when I told them I couldn't afford the price, especially since the other places the have provided a 40% lower estimate provide warranties. I also read somewhere that it is better to go with the aftermarket rad, but it's difficult to know with online resources.
I don't have any info about why it needs to be replaced, but was told it had to be the repair shop. Other places told me to make sure they did a pressure test, but I'd rather not ask them to do anything else considering their labor rates may be astronomical.
Thanks, K
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Warranties are usual with aftermarket products. Most aftermarket is of such bad-quality that you often end up using the warranty at least once.
It seems to be cheaper for the aftermarket supplier to honor the warranty than it is for him to do proper quality control on his products. And in the meantime you have to tear back in and start all over again. I'd rather do it once and forget about it, which is why I prefer $400 reman Honda alternators over $180 reman aftermarket alternators.

Many aftermarket rads for Hondas are a fraction of OEM in price and are of suprisingly good quality. If you get one, make sure it has an aluminum core.

Rads usually need to be replaced for the following common reasons: 1) tanks cracked and leaking 2) neck cracked and leaking 3) fins corroded, missing or filled with gravel 4) core tubes leaking or damaged to the point where leakage is imminent 5) leak from seam between tank and core.

"Pressure test"? Mention of this implies the presence of a leak of unknown origin. Dye tests are more reliable. I think you need to provide or gather more information.
--
Tegger

The Unofficial Honda/Acura FAQ
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Thanks, that's a lot of great information! I'll be sure to bring up these points to all of the shops I have in mind before towing to the final destination. I also agree about doing things once instead of using warranties...time is money. On other hand, this car is 12 years old and nearing 100K, that may not be elderly for a Honda, but it seems the repairs are getting more and more frequent. There's a fair chance I'll need a new car before another radiator assuming this one doesn't come from the scrapyard.
Thanks again, K
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Just to follow-up, they were totally ripping me off. I found a place in the same town (1 mile away) that did the same work for less than half what they were charging. Actually I think they did more as they ran a carbon monoxide test to make sure it wasn't something else, replaced an extra hose, and flushed out the system. The first place was trying to charge $960 ($760 for radiator replacement, $160 for hose replacement, the rest for tests). The cheaper place charged $330 for the radiator, including hoses, and another $120 for tests ($450 total). Moreover, when I picked up my car from the 1st shop, I noticed the check engine light was on when it wasn't when I picked it up, the tested the engine and found that 2 cylinders were misfiring. They gave a dubious reason for this, so I had to have the cheaper place check that too. The difference couldn't be customer service either. The whole team at the 2nd place came out to look at my car when I brought it there for a quick look and explained a lot of the car issues to me.
I should also mention that I asked the first place and they were going to install an aftermarket radiator, so that cannot explain the price difference.
In summary, James Madison Shell in Vienna, VA is a waste of money and C&C Garage Inc in Vienna, VA is OUTSTANDING! Not surprisingly, others reviews say the same thing.
Thanks for all of your help, Kerry
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If you look at the figures I quoted in previous post the labor rate would be over $190/hr. I don't think you'll find that in any Honda Dealership. Maybe Rolls or Ferrari. It's typical of many dealers to "freelance" their own labor charges for a little extra gross profit. Dealers do minor services (oil change, brakes, tires, etc.) at a reasonable or competitive price. As soon as you get to significant repairs, watch out. Services such as rad replacement are not advertised so a consumer often can not or will not compare.

I respect your opinion and knowledge Tegger, but you can't be sure that every independent shop will sell you an aftermarket rad. Some independent shops use factory parts because most of the time (not all) they are of better quality. In many instances aftermarket rads are junk, but not all. As I mentioned before, I have experience in one brand. That experience involves selling hundreds of them in a Honda dealership over the past ten years. I sold many other aftermarket rads, but none of better quality and better fit. BTW, I have about 36 years experience with Honda ( you may remember me). When given a choice and the difference in cost, more than half opted for the aftermarket. In that period of time. I only had one returned for a leak in the filler neck.

You are correct on that point. But, there are a lot of ex-dealer techs opening their own shops. They may not have the same equipment but they do have the training and experience and you can get good labor rates compared to the dealer most of the time. Evidently Kerry found one that didn't. But as Kerry did, "caveat emptor". There are many repair shops that specialize in Japanese imports and some just Honda/Acura. The hard part is finding an honest, dependable experienced shop. Sometimes the answer can be found by asking other Honda owners, BBB and online referral services with customer ratings or feedback.
Howard
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Kerry would need to provide an itemized invoice in order for either of us to have any idea where the money is /really/ going.

If a consumer does not bother to comapre unadvertised prices, he's a fool. He's also a fool if he does not make sure he's comparing apples to apples.
A hypothetical example: Suppose a low estimate and a high estimate on the same vehicle from two different shops. On the face of it it may appear that the high shop is conducting a pocket-picking operation, but if one were to look at the itemized quote, one may find that the low shop will be reusing the rad hoses, is using the wrong coolant and has included the cheapest aftermarket rad they could find.

No, I can't. But it's very usual for independent shops (and many dealers!) to quote aftermarket parts when the customer is extremely price-conscious. Most of the independent shops I've dealt with sell you aftermarket unless you specify OEM.

Most of the aftermarket rads I've had experience with are of surprisingly good quality and last just as long as OEM. I have one in my own car. The OEM Denso was something stupid like $600, so I passed in favor of a $150 Visteon.
<snip>

I think this may be more or less true depending on where you are geographically. In my neck of the woods (admittedly relatively thinly populated), Honda-specific independents are few and far between.And GOOD ones are hen's-teeth rare.
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Tegger wrote:

visteon are actually very good and oem suppliers to many car companies. not all brands are the same quality.

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