I just stumbled onto a warning in my Honda service manual that says:
Do not mix different brands of antifreeze/coolant.
I have a feeling that this warning is not observed by most independent
shops and Honda owners over the life of a car. So I wonder what kind of
consequences might one expect from mixing different brands. Don't they
all use essentially the same ethylene glycol?
Yes, but the rest of it is different from brand to brand, not all of which
are compatible with each other.
And since you have no idea of the compatibility of one brand to another,
it's unwise to chance mixing two that don't like each other.
And even if they are compatible, mixing them deletes the long-life
corrosion protection, dumbing protection down to the default 2-years.
OK, but in most cases when I want to top off the coolant to replenish
the loss over time, I have no idea what coolant the shop was using when
they filled the system last time. So mixing different brands here is
likely. Heck, last time, as I found out, my well regarded independent
mechanic specializing in Japanese cars, used tap water to mix the
concentrated coolant. When I asked him about that, he dismissed my
concern by saying that the tapwater here was pretty soft and he never
heard that using tapwater for mixing could be a problem. (Funny, even
I've known about that!) But then, maybe that tapwater is the reason why
I've just noticed the early signs of coolant vapor condensing inside my
windshield after only a few years of heater core replacement. Shoot,
that will be another expensive repair job. Perhaps it is time to look
for another shop for that job or going back to the Honda dealer again.
I better get some bids on that job first because it might cost me more
than what I could fetch for the whole '94 Accord.
as do most shops. apart from anything else, it's cheapest. for the
shop anyway, not the customer.
like most shops have never "heard" of bad head gasket repair practices
being the inevitable death of that engine. it's not because the
problems don't accrue to their bad practice, it's because /that/
particular shop costs the customer money so the customer takes their
business elsewhere - them become someone else's problem.
unfortunately, you can't rely on a dealer to not use tap water. most of
them take the view, and you have to be sympathetic to this, that the
customer is going to use it, so it's not going to make any difference,
it's only the super-anal independent and large fleets that use the same
equipment for many years, that bother.
i never understood the logic of this thinking. buying a new car costs
money down, money lost through depreciation, more expensive insurance,
and [for most people] monthly payments - that all amounts to many
thousands of dollars a year. how can that possibly be "cheaper" than
repairing what is now essentially a "free" car? sure, go ahead and
replace a car one doesn't like, or that one feels has has social
implications, but replacing it because its current value is supposed to
be weighed against repair cost when the replacement ends up being even
more expensive??? i don't get it.
So what is one to do then if he is not a super-anal independent?
I understand you here and up to now this was pretty much my own thinking
as well. That's why I kept the car this long. Even though the engine and
transmission, along with other major components still function almost as
well as in the firts year but the increasing frequency of repair jobs of
auxiliary componenents is starting to nickle-and-dime me to death.
Because of them, I would not even risk a longer trip with the car. But
eventually I just might bite the bullet and pay for a heater core
replacement again. In the end though I'll still have an old car on which
something else might go wrong again when I least expect it. It would not
be too much of a problem on a local trip but could ruin my whole day on
a longer one, especially at night somewhere.
There is a school of thought that once the maintenance bills add up to a
certain value of a car, it's better to get a new one than repair the old
one. Isn't that the basis of how the insurance companies decide when to
total a car and when to pay for the repairs?
i just assume it's diluted with tap water and just drain the system and
refill with what i /know/ to be properly constituted. but that's /me/
being anal, and also inclined to get under the hood anyway. there's no
reason you can't show up at an independent with a couple of containers
of antifreeze you did yourself and ask them to drain/refill for you.
that has to be one of the most severely p.i.t.a. jobs possible on a
honda. literally everything around it has to come out. i sympathize.
and i'd look into other leak remedies first.
if you've followed a program of preventive maintenance, that "if" gets
pretty much eliminated. i've spent quite a bit on my 89 civic in the
last few years. driveshafts, alternator, starter, battery, brakes &
disks, radiator, hoses, exhaust, catalytic converter, oxygen sensor,
suspension bushings, etc. not necessarily because the old stuff
wouldn't have lasted longer, but because i wanted to*. and each should
be good for another 10-20 years. and all of this expense together is
considerably less than what my previous new car cost me in depreciation
over the same time frame.
where does that "school of thought" come from? i put it to you that
it's the same people that never do the math on the /real/ cost of ownership!
* and this is where "wanting to" comes in. i figured that if i compared
real costs of ownership, i could /afford/ to plow quite a lot of money
back into the 89 and still be ahead. so i did. and can afford to keep
on doing so.
I already decided that I'll just do that in the future. Just like I've
been doing it with oil. I have a feeling he already looks at me as if I
was some kind of "super-anal" smart ass with my insistence of using my
own Castrol oil, so he would be even more reinforced in that view if I
insisted in my own antifreeze as well. I imagine mechanics don't really
care for customers who try to act as if they knew more about cars than
they do and might suggest to do the work myself if I know so much. It's
I know and that's why I am not surprised by the high bill for it.
Frankly, I wonder if the current heater core that was installed a few
years ago was a high quality remanufactered unit in the first place or
perhaps it was damaged during installation. That could also be the
cause, not just improper coolant, right? If I decide to go with
replacing the core again, I am seriously thinking whether it wouldn't be
a good idea to get a new core from one of the online Honda dealers, like
Majestic, that has good prices on OEM parts.
In any case, what other remedies were you thinking of?
It might, but in the last few years some of the hoses found a way to
fail even though I've been always sticking to the manufacturer
recommended preventive maint. schedule.
Oh come now, you've must have heard that too before!
Preaching to the converted here. I'm just saying ...
most techs, regardless of whatever it is, aren't usually high up the
ladder in the "people skills" dept, so you'll have to forgive them if
they roll their eyes. and frankly, the average customer /doesn't/ know
more then they do, so a combination of people skills and customer
knowledge is something /you/ are going to have to present artfully.
absolutely. one of the reasons most manufacturers now use aluminum
matrix heat exchangers is that old fashioned solders can be dissolved by
modern long life anti-freeze. most remanufactured items are still
soldered, so absolutely, this could have been the problem.
i would. this item is /such/ a pita, and the expense is such a small
fraction of overall labor, it's not worth /not/ getting one that's going
to last as long as possible.
sodium silicate solution, aka "blue devil head gasket sealant" or
whatever it's called.
that's unfortunate. honda hoses, the made in japan variety anyway,
usually last a ridiculously long time.
now, thinking about this, one thing that can negatively impact hose
rubber is sodium hydroxide solution. and two possible sources of that
are radiator flush chemical, and dexcool antifreeze. and that could
impact your heater core too. have either been used do you know?
all i've heard is the constant drip-drip-drip of the media trying to
instill "it's not worth repairing" thinking into the sheeple. that and
the generally pitiful state of current math education.
Hm ... Does that mean that most manufacturers now use aluminum matrix
heat exchangers for recent models only or also do as OEM replacements
for older models?
I think that's what I'll do. I've already checked for online prices for
a new OEM heater core for my Accord is around $300 ay Majestic and BK
Honda which the dealers sell for over $600. Figures, huh? I wonder what
the dealer's cost is because I'm sure even those online dealers make
some money on the $300 price. Of course, I'm sure my mechanic will
probably say that he can get a remanufactured one for something like
$180 but to me that difference is miniscure compared to the whole
replacement bill that might be repeated again in a few years.
But I thought those solutions may make things worse in the long run.
I wish I knew what was used. Most shops don't tell such things to the
customers. By the way, the original hoses did indeed last a long time.
But not just hoses could suddenly fail in such an old car, but
suspension items, boots, bushings, etc. Then I once detailed my
adventure with alternator brush replacement, too. These kind of things
happen in increasing frequency on old models even if I keep to the
manufacturer's maint. schedule. Fortunately they tend to be not the most
expensive things to repair but could really ruin your day if they happen
on a long trip. Fortunately I seldom make such trips these days.
i think most oem replacements are the same as originally fitted.
basically, they put a bunch into storage when they stop production, and
that's pretty much it.
aftermarket is $98 at napa. but i'd still go with oem if it were my car.
it's relatively inert chemically, it just crusts everything up where it
gets a chance to leak. which is why it stops things leaking. is it a
proper cure? no. but will it stop a leak for a year or two? sure it
will. depends how long you want to keep the car.
but most of this stuff isn't in the maintenance schedule. that's why
you need to inspect and replace when necessary. it's what they do with
a lot of aircraft maintenance.
in the grand scheme of things, brakes, alternators, belts, batteries,
etc. aren't very expensive. if you have the time and inclination, you
can sign up for your local community college car maintenance classes.
you may not end up wanting to do the work yourself, but at least you'll
know more about what you're looking at and be able to stay on top of a
regular inspection schedule. it'll save you a ton of money in the long
run. like a friend of mine getting dinged $500 for a radiator hose when
he was on a road trip. $500 to change a hose that could have been
inspected and changed ahead of time, and which would otherwise cost $25.
So then I would probably not get aluminum matrix withe OEM replacement.
Wow, it's even cheaper than I thought. But the savings would still mean
nothing if I had to redo this core exchange in a few years. I might go
with that for the radiator because it's not as labor intensive to replace.
OK, so that's what I thought, too.
Well, my guy does inspect things, too, but I doubt he is very thorough
Sorry, Jim; I'm now too old for going back to college and my back is
also not what it used to be. But I think your proposition is a good one
for younger guys. In fact, in my younger years when I had an'84 Corolla
SR5 coupe, I installed the whole A/C system myself from a factory kit
because the dealer could not get me the new car with built-in A/C and
otherwise I really liked the car. After installation, when I had to
drive the car to the dealer for charging the the system, the mechanic
wouldn't believe I did the installation myself. He said he could not
have done it better himself. ;-) It was still a RW drive model and
maintaining it was easy. I really liked that little coupe.
yup, that's what i do. some aftermarket radiators are pretty cheap and
nasty, but they'll usually last 5 years. by which point, all the
stones, bugs and other debris that messes them up can be expunged for a
fraction of the cost of the oem - which cost dictates you'll struggle on
with for as long as possible and their sudden failure becomes a real
usually, they're "too thorough" with the stuff that's easy to fix and
ignore the harder stuff. a friend of mine got dinged $450 for a motor
mount that was allegedly "cracked". but it was one of the ones where it
has a thin rubber web that basically is just to hold the guts in
position until it's fitted, then is irrelevant. it takes about 10
minutes to replace - should it actually be necessary - and costs <$60 in
parts. all this from a honda dealer that also uses aftermarket belts
but charges you full oem honda pricing too!
A good chunk of the credit should go to Toyota because that factory A/C
kit came with such detailed and illustrated step-by-step instructions
that they was similar in quality to Heathkit instructions of the time.
And I used to be kit builder.
I think you just don't know when mechanics will use short-cuts instead
of good practices.
Except -- according that antifreeze FAQ:
"In the past, most antifreezes were green. Now, manufacturers use a
variety of colors in their antifreeze product lines. Green generally,
but not necessarily, indicates an automotive or light duty formulation.
Orange antifreeze generally means extended-life type of antifreeze. It
is ethylene glycol-based like most green antifreezes but contains
different corrosion inhibitors.
The various manufacturers use colors to identify their products in a bit
of marketing gamesmanship; however, there are no hard rules governing
the use of these colors. "
So much for relying on colors.
Indeed he is not. He also does not use the Castrol oil that my Honda
dealer uses. That's why I also bought the oil before I took the car for
oil change. I wish I had done the same thing with coolant.
Unfortunately this lesson comes a bit too late for me. :-(
Let me have a look at the bottle...
It says it's a 50/50 mix.
Freezing point: -35F
Boiling point: 268F
There's a little asterisk that tells you that the boiling point is
calculated at sea-level, and with a 16-lb cap.
I'm about 800ft above sea level, and my car takes a 13-lb cap. I don't know
what that does to the boiling point.
Also the label says not to drink it. I guess that's important.
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