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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've always been able to lurk in this forum and find my answers without posting on my own. Finally though I think I have an issue that I could use advice about myself. Partly I could use some help because I'm dealing with this while traveling for work where I don't have access to my usual independent mechanic or dealership.

My 2012 Cruze 1.4L has about 108,000 miles on it. I'm the first owner.

A few days after a long highway drive I got in my car, drove to the store, and on the way back I received an alert on the dash that my A/C was disabled due to high engine temperatures. The engine temperature gauge seemed to be stuck on minimum. There was no visible sign in the engine compartment that the engine was in fact overheating, and the coolant level in the overflow tank looked normal.

Based on my research, including some time here in these forums, I thought I probably had problem with a coolant sensor. I took it to the neighborhood SpeeDee franchise, which my employer recommended as being reliable. They confirmed that there was no problem with the coolant levels and that they were getting bad signals from one of the sensors.

The folks at SpeeDee didn't charge me anything, always appreciated, and suggested I take the car to a Chevrolet dealership -- Banner Chevrolet in New Orleans is the one I wound up with. I carefully drove the car to the dealer, again without any sign that it was in fact overheating. Banner agreed that there was a bad sensor and replaced one of them. The cost was approximately $215.

After I picked up my car I drove it back about 10 miles to where I am staying things seemed fine. I didn't have reason to drive it for a few more days, and when I did it was again just a few miles for errands. On the way back, I lost power, got an alert on the dash that my engine was overheating and that engine power would be reduced.

I pulled to the side of the road and popped the hood. I could touch my hand to the surface of the engine and the coolant overflow tank, they were so cool. I drove the remaining 1/4 of a mile back to where I am staying and parked it for a couple more days.

Just to be sure in case it really was overheating, I had the car towed back to the dealership this time. They looked it over and called me back saying that I had a coolant leak and that I would need a new radiator.

Can someheone help provide some perspective on this issue?

It seems remarkable that I would have driven more than 700 miles and not had any symptoms from a coolant leak. Then I specifically had a mechanic at SpeeDee look for coolant leaks, and they didn't find any. Then I took it to this dealer the first time, also specifically to diagnose a cooling system issue, and they didn't notice a coolant leak.

It seems more likely to me that a coolant leak developed after someone was working in the engine compartment than that it coincidentally is an unrelated issue that just arose right after I had the cooling system worked on. Do folks have any advice? Am I being unreasonable in my suspicion? They want almost $800 for total the new radiator job -- this is really starting to add up, and I don't know if I have my car at the right service department any more at this point.
 

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This sounds like the replacement sensor isn't sealed properly so coolant is leaking out the sensor mount.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the thread links. I had read most of those before, but not all. Now I have just reread all of them. :)

One detail I didn't include in my original post that now seems relevant due to all of the threads about the water outlet: The dealer says the tank on the radiator is leaking on the passenger side. I have not had a chance to get back to the dealer to look at in person or take photos.

The fact that this leak is on the passenger side of the radiator makes this radiator replacement concept seem unrelated to the typical Cruze water outlet issue, right?
 

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First off, if there was a leak, I wouldn't expect it to create trouble until the coolant got low. That's not what seems to be happening here.

The computer may flag an overheat condition if the different coolant sensors doesn't make sense.

I'd ask the dealer to show you the leak.
 

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I've found coolant leaks can be tricky. Since it's under pressure, it can "jump" somewhere else. (In one case, I thought the leak was on the engine. It turned out the radiator was "pissing" on the engine. Almost no runoff from the radiator itself.) As well as just flow somewhere else. It can certainly take some detective work to find where it's really coming from. Personally, I'd want to see it actually leak before I'd claim to know where it came from.

While the Cruze is a bit young for radiator failures, I wouldn't expect it to be on the passenger side. I'd expect it to be the plastic tank on the driver's side which gets the most thermal cycling.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
My feeling at the moment is: how did they send a vehicle home with a coolant leak, having been working on a cooling system issue?

If a new radiator is needed I guess then it's inevitable, but after I drive it 10 more miles are there going to be other leaks?

This discussion is helpful because I want these guys to completely assess what's going on, not fix one symptom at a time and then test it by sending me out on the road.
 

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My first gen is the 2.0L diesel and I haven't wrenched on the 1.4L so someone else might be able to comment, but if the car seems to be overheating right after a sensor replacement, did they have to drain some of the coolant during replacement? If they did, perhaps they didn't get all the air bled out of the system and the thermostat isn't working correctly.

Did they have to touch the hoses on the radiator to drain the system? The newer radiators with crimped-on plastic end tanks can be problematic over time and it doesn't take much for a leak to develop but you should be able to see signs and residue. Maybe it is just a coincidence and the radiator is starting to leak but I can see how it seems odd.

Were you able to check the system to see if the coolant level was low when it got to the dealer? Perhaps you can ask if they can show you where the leak is and maybe ask if they had to drain the system when they replaced the sensor.
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Let me provide an update, and ask for folks to wish me luck.

I went to see the Cruze again before authorizing the radiator replacement. Once the engine idled for three or four minutes, coolant started gushing from the front passenger side. Catastrophic is the word that comes to mind to describe this leak -- definitely no a subtle leak by any means.

Therefore I can conclude that either the radiator was leaking at a much slower rate when I took my car back from the dealer after the sensor replacement or it wasn't leaking at all yet.

The dealer said that they have no explanation for why the radiator would start leaking so badly within 20 miles of having the coolant sensor replaced. Given that I would have preferred a specific and accurate explanation, I was satisfied that they didn't try to make up a theory.

Today I picked up the Cruze with the new radiator installed. I've driven it 10 miles in 95-degree temps with the air conditioner running. The cooling system has held up so far. I'm going to try to put as many miles as I can on the new radiator between now and Wednesday when I take the car on a long road trip.

Fingers crossed!
 

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Glad you got it fixed. Wash the car good by hand paying specific attention to the front bumper cover. If it's loose under the headlights or signficantly loose where the bumper cover meets the fender you might have a concern to address.

Many people don't realize that to pull the radiator you pull the bumper cover. Looking at the way these covers clip onto the fender and under the headlights, I'm wondering if the bumper cover clips were damaged.

This is kind of a dumb design from Chevrolet, but I doubt most mechanics will work so slowly with kid gloves on not to break clips. Break one, ok stuff happens.. Have an entire side of a bumper cover taped up because it's broke, that wouldn't be acceptable.

That's the reason labor is so high. Radiators look like a mess on this car. I've read the Alldata procedure, and there's a young kid on Youtube that has a video. What a mess..
 
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