Ebay Radiator BEWARE!
For those who don't like reading here's the point; The cheap ebay radiator I ended up with has 14 coolant tubes less than the OE radiator it replaced. I didn't discover that until months after purchasing. It had a lousy radiator cap fitment which leaked and at this moment I'm pending time to confirm whether or not it has the same or fewer fins per inch than the OE unit.
If you like stories, continue.
I'm new to the forum and joined specifically to warn Versa owners by sharing my experience.
I'm a GM fan, I've built and turbocharged several motors as well as built a few automatic transmissions including a Sentra 4 speed.
My significant other owns an 07 Versa 1.8 automatic non CVT with the typical complaints; TPMS, Catalyst insufficient, recent SRS and the flapping rear door seals which I managed to put back in place.
The radiator developed a crack in the upper tank. I found a new rad on ebay located here in FL for $57.
Bought it and installed it except for one problem. The width of the radiator was about a .5 inches wider than the OE unit. As a result I could not fit the pegs of the fan shroud into the inserts on the lower radiator tank and bolt it up top because the shroud designed to hug the radiator was being forced to expand at the ends beyond what it was capable of.
Filed a claim with pictures of the differences in width and some how the seller wiggled out of responsibility winning favor from ebay until I appealed and explained with pictures that it was not possible to install the fan properly without modifying it or the radiator.
Decision was overturned, money was refunded and we were allowed to keep the radiator which I ran for a while with the lower pegs hanging out so that I could mount it up top until a proper replacement could be had. It was cool out at the time toward the end of last year.
Since the car was running fine I was a bit slow about addressing the radiator. ~A month ago the car over heated and was found to be nearly a gallon low on coolant. Topped it off and drove 75 miles straight with no problem except at the end of the trip the cooling fan would not shut off while idling with the AC off. It was also about a quart low on coolant.
Removed the radiator as now it's hot out side and bent the end rails in so that the cooling fan could be seated properly. I also removed the thermostat at the water pump and replaced it in error with a new 203 deg stat as I was not aware this little @#$%^ had two thermostats.
Drove back 75 miles this time with the scan on to monitor eng temps and noted consistent 220-225 coolant temps which I thought was high despite not knowing the normal safe operating range for this car.
I also discover the radiator cap is a bit sketchy on the neck and appears to have been leaking a bit since the radiator was installed. At the end of the trip there was no coolant loss, proof the cap had been leaking all along due to inconsistent sealing which I thought I had just repaired with a minor tab adjust.
Daughter takes the car on a trip the next day. I checked the coolant which was fine but not realizing how horrible the cap was on this cheap radiator probably aggravated and installed it just right to leak again.
I get the dreaded call an hour into her trip. "The hot light is on". Women and men with no automotive knowledge have no fear of this light nor the its buddy the low oil pressure light and often try to fix it with more throttle. She pulls it over at a safe place and lets it cool. On restart she said it smoked a bit and sputtered so I knew it was a rap.
I get to the car the next day and find the battery is dead and discovered that she and the Ford rep that was helping continued to fiddle with the car raising my concern of possible attempts to start it against hydraulic lock. Attempted to jump start it keeping that in mind and sure enough it had. Now I have the possibility of bent rods to contend with. Pulled plug #4 since I could see in the port that's where the water had been, spun it over and got a jet stream out of the plug hole.
Patched it up and tried bluedevil after finally getting it to start with the lower thermostat removed and it didn't take.
I had AAA drag it back home so I could do the business on it. On disassembly and tear down of the head I find the second stat and frown and cuss Nissan. The head was out by .007.
Now back to the radiator. I have pictures of the stock unit and looked a little closer and discovered that the ebay special was short ~14 coolant tubes compared to the OE unit. That's about 18% less cooling surface. I have yet to compare the # of fins per inch to see if that reduced cooling capacity even further.
The car is back together and as many times as I have taken the throttlebody off in the past for plugs and gaskets, I did not disconnect the battery for the headgasket repair and powered the car up a few times and now am facing the irregular idle monster.
All thermostats are removed for the time being but the motor still likes to run 205-210 here in 90 deg FL weather which tells me that radiator is not helping. The A/C will take temps above 220 and if it's hot enough out the temps can hit red light warning but the motor responds to the cooling fan to the tune of ~203 avg steady with A/C off and windows down.
So now the I'm down to replacing the radiator with an OE capacity unit. This may also apply to any aftermarket radiator so if you buy a non OE radiator, be sure to count the tubes to make sure you're getting "apples" for "apples".
If I find there are also fewer fins per inch I'll post pics of the difference.
Moral of the story, unless you know the seller, best to avoid eBay when buying car parts. Lots of counterfeit parts being sold out there as well. Thanks for the warning.
No moral except that if it seems to good to be true, it is. The seller must have the presence of mind to even think to check things like this and the integrity to admit to it, and or forgo selling such substandard parts.
Generally with expensive to replace parts, I look for a used OE part in good condition as opposed to an aftermarket new, but this was one costly exception as I am sure now the ebay part brought about the eventual head gasket failure. It was installed during the cooler part of last year so the insufficient character was not made evident in the absence of a coolant temp gauge which will be installed shortly.
I compared the two radiators today and found the following:
Coolant tubes: new fake 58 +/- 1, OE 71 = 18% difference
Fins per inch: 17 vs. 25 = 32% difference
18% fewer tubes + 32% fewer fins = blown head gasket
After replacing the new bad with an OE unit, the cooling performance was night and day. The thermostats have not been installed yet since I was diagnosing the suspected unusually high temps.
First test drive showed a comfortable 165 deg coolant temp at cruise with A/C off in ~80 deg humid ambient temps by the time I reached the same area of the same route that produced 190 deg temps with the fake unit.
I continued the drive to about double the test range of the fake unit (This is after replacing the head gasket) and still the OE radiator held coolant temps below 180 where the fake unit was comfortably at 200 deg plus.
The pics below are of the two for comparison of the fake next to the OE that it replaced unfortunately.
I'm not sure what part of the world you are from but buying used OE parts (instead of new) is common practice in Asia because of the widespread sales of fake Chinese parts (unless you buy your new parts from an OEM dealership at much higher prices you cannot be sure).
Lots of fake/substandard brake parts for sale on eBay as well. That's even worse due to the safety aspect of the part. Too bad people still buy these junk parts, risking their own lives in the process.
In some cases it is deliberate in an effort generate more profit much the same as name brand companies moving to countries that offer cheap labor while at the same time not having the decency to maintain the quality of their proven product in the process.
I believe we all have a tendency to see ebay and counterfeit as synonymous. I purchased the radiator through ebay from a US company within 200 miles of home that sold HVAC and cooling parts without reason to be suspicious.
A coolant temp gauge as part of a standard dash layout would have quickly alerted me to the reduction in performance by the radiator so that I would have been drawn to the problem before the motor was damaged as the average cooling efficiency between it and the original is about 20 deg.
Me personally, I can't imagine producing an automobile without the bear essential gauges; oil pressure and coolant temperature as they are crucial especially a temp gauge in FL on an engine with an aluminum cylinder head.
There is a trend by the automotive industry to build cars in a manner that forces you to take them back to the dealership and be subject to unnecessarily expensive charges if you have little to no repair skills.
Two of the most memorable involve Chrysler cars, one with a starter relay placed behind the radio in the dash and the other with a cooling fan relay placed in the front bumper instead of under the hood in the fuse box with the other relays and fuses.
There is no sensible reason I can think of for doing that other than to generate profit for the dealership as the bumper located relay for something so critical as the cooling fan is a doozy to get to for a simple plug in part.
Hey, "it's a jungle out there" with "lions" and "tigers" everywhere.
Just trying to do my part to save as many as I can from a similar headache. As this can happen at your typical repair garage and none would be the wiser.
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