What to do with this Tercel's plugged up radiator.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Mar 01, 1998

Dear Tom and Ray:

My '84 Tercel temperature gauge approaches the red mark when I drive on the
highway. At speeds under 40, it's fine. Turning on the heat inside the car seems
to make the needle go down a little. I have had the thermostat and radiator cap
replaced. My boyfriend checked the water pump and pronounced it OK (he's a
weekend mechanic). He thinks the radiator is clogged. Is there a way to check
this? And if so, do I have to buy a whole new radiator, or can it be de-clogged?
-- Debbie

TOM: Some radiators can be flow-tested, and if they are plugged up they can be
"de-clogged." But for this radiator, it's just not worth it, Debbie.

RAY: Right. Based on your description of the problem (the high-speed
overheating), and the things you've already tried, it almost certainly is a
plugged-up radiator. So I'd just have your boyfriend check the core for any
signs of deterioration, and if he sees any at all, go ahead and get a new

TOM: A radiator for this car should cost less than $200, which is cheap -- as
far as radiators go. And I'm sure your boyfriend is dying to learn how to put
one of these in (fortunately, it's very easy on a Tercel).

RAY: But in the meantime, Debbie, I would urge you not to drive it. If the
temperature gauge is near the red mark, you're overheating the engine and
risking serious long-term damage to the engine. And unless your boyfriend is
dying to learn how to install a new head gasket or cylinder head, too, I'd park
this thing until it's fixed, OK?

* * *

TOM: Is warming up your car actually BAD for it? Does slamming the door really
make a difference to the life of your car? Should you "save the brakes" by
shifting into a lower gear to help you slow down?

RAY: You'll learn the surprising answers to all of these questions, and more, in
our new pamphlet called "Ten Ways You May Be Ruining Your Car Without Even
Knowing It.'

TOM: It's our guide to making your car last forever.

RAY: Become an instant know-it-all. Order your copy of "Ten Ways You May Be
Ruining Your Car Without Even Knowing It!" Send $3 and a stamped (55 cents),
self-addressed, No.10 envelope to Ruin No.1, PO Box 6420, Riverton, NJ 08077-

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