A few months ago I got the oil changed, and the mechanic noticed that we had a crack in our radiator. It was on the top (as opposed to the bottom or sides), so it meant replacing wasn't urgent, but it was inevitable. He quoted me what I felt like was a reasonable price to fix it, and I went on my way. I knew it was something we'd have to get done before the summer, because Jesse will be using the car to commute to Detroit for an internship 4 days a week for 10-11 weeks (if you haven't heard about his internship yet, ask him about it! It's going to be awesome!).
With Jesse being a student and me staying home with the kids, car repairs are something that are really hard to fit into the budget. A few weeks ago, I was mulling over how and when we'd get the radiator replaced, when I had the thought: what if I could replace it myself? We have a lot more time than money, so replacing it myself would greatly reduce the strain on our budget. I immediately texted my dad, wondering if this was something that might be within my abilities. He's always been a big fan of fixing things yourself when possible, so I knew he'd give me an optimistic but practical answer. To my excitement, he told me he thought I could do it!
Anyways, to make a long story short(er), I found the new radiator online, bought a socket wrench set (oh boy, was that exciting!!!), and watched a youtube video of someone replacing a radiator on our make and model of car (after which I carefully typed out everything they had done).
Finally, yesterday the stars aligned (by which I mean Jesse was finished with finals and could stay home with the kids, and the weather was nice enough to do it outside) and I got to work!
The new radiator:
The hole where the old radiator was:
The old radiator:
The whole process only took about 2 hours from start to finish, and part of that time was spent dealing with a few hangups, namely 1) Getting a bolt stuck in the socket head and having to pry it out and 2) Realizing that the new radiator had 2 extra hose spots, and troubleshooting whether or not I could still use it (side note: it turns out it's a one size fits all sort of radiator, and those extra hoses are for automatic transmissions--but this took probably a good 30 minutes of calling my dad and the store I bought it from to confirm!).
All in all, it actually wasn't that difficult! It turns out replacing a radiator on our car is fairly simple--mostly it was a matter of jacking the car up, unbolting the whole thing, removing a few hoses, and then reversing the process to put the new radiator in :) I've been greatly encouraged by my success and I'm hoping to learn how to fix more things on our little car in the future!