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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
As some of you might recall I had the radiator replaced in my Spyder a few months ago when I bottomed it out on a parking block and cracked it. Since I've been away from the car for the last few months it hasn't seen much action. A car buff friend of mine is trying to help me sell it and when he took it out for a test drive the other day he noticed a faint engine coolant smell. This raised major red flags as I just shelled out $3+ grand to have the whole radiator replaced.

The mechanic who did the service is NOT a Maserati dealer, but IS an authorized Maserati mechanic. He seemed to have a good track record with servicing and repairing friends Maserati's and Ferrari's in the area so I trusted him (although his prices are a bit high). He says he only does repairs by the book on what Maserati recommends and does not cut corners to avoid displeased customers or half assed repairs. Well this to me sounds like a half assed repair...

When the car was given back to me after the new radiator he said it was back to 100% condition and even said he test drove it several miles to make sure. After my buddy drove it and noticed the engine coolant smell inside the cabin (coming from the air vents to be exact) I immediately took the car back to him to see what it was all about. Maybe he missed something when installing the radiator, I don't know? The owner of the shop told me that there was NEW engine coolant leak, in a hose somewhere that "they must have missed"

Now I find this to be very coincidental; being that I just had the radiator replaced which is directly related to the engine coolant AND that the smell was never therer prior to me taking it for repairs. I'm thinking that somehow in the process of replacing the radiator they caused this new leak to occur as it all just seems very coincidental to me. Not to mention when they were replacing the new radiator shouldn't they have found this existing leak that is now in question? When he test drove the car to make sure everythign was peachy shouldn't he have noticed the same smell and realized that there was still a problem? It just seems strange to give the car back to me, say everythings fine, then withing a 100 miles on the odometer find another problem and have them say "oh, yea we must have missed that!"

On top of this all, he says that the (minor) leak is in such a place that in order to fix it they'd basically have to take the whole engine apart. This is something he says they wouldn't be comfortable doing and I would need to take it to an actual dealer for that repair! Very very fishy sounding to me. They should have noted the leak when they were doing the initial repairs and then told me this, instead of me having to find it on my own and pointing it out to them. Not to mention when I took it in the second time to get this diagnosis he charged me a few hundred just to look at a car I just spend $3k fixing!

Now my dilemma is what to do? I haven't talked to him yet as I want to get some good recommendations on how to proceed. I'm almost set on having him pay for the new repairs at a licensed dealer because I do think he was the cause of this new problem. The guy has a really good track record around town and everyone I've talked to says this is really unusual; which puts me in another awkward situation. I'm going to talk to my lawyer later this week and see what my legal rights are here. I've put no more than 100 on the clock since I took delivery of the car with the new radiator from him. What would you do if you were me and do I have any legal rights in a situation like this? I'm almost positive this guy screwed up my car and I don't want to spend another several thousand fixing a problem he caused!

Thanks in advance for your recommendations!
 

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That sucks, man. Sorry to hear about your troubles. My approach is to expect the worst in terms of the mechanic accepting any responsibility.

As far as legal recourse, when the radiator was replaced, did the mechanic give you any kind of a warranty on his work? That's where I would start.

Next, I would get a second opinion, if at all possible, and try to get a better idea of the symptoms. Is the coolant level dropping noticeably? Is the thermoregulation affected? Does the smell enter the cabin all the time, only when the fan is on, only when the heat is on, etc.?

Assuming you have a new coolant leak, there are several possibilities:
  1. This leak was caused by the same incident that cracked your radiator, but neither you nor the mechanic caught it.
  2. This leak developed on its own, independent of the cracked radiator, and perhaps could have been caught by the mechanic at the time of the original repair.
  3. This leak was caused by the repairs performed after the cracked radiator.
  4. This leak developed after the repairs and the timing is pure coincidence.

If you can figure out how the leak came about, you might be able to put pressure on the mechanic to at least contribute toward the new repairs. Arguably, choices 1 and 3 would suggest more "fault" on his part than 2 and 4.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Lionel, to answer your question; yes the mechanic did warranty all of his work. By using authorized parts straight from Maserati they are all under Maserati warranty, as it the labor.

I'm going to get a more specific diagnosis of the new found leak to better help connect this to the radiator.

I agree with your 4 possibilities, pure coincidence seems very very coincidental so I am going to try and find a direct coorelation to the radiator and new found problem.
 

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Out of curiosity, are you 100% it is a leak? If the radiator overflows (i.e. fills up the external tank and out the overflow) either because the car overheats or because the radiator is overfilled, you'd get the same smell - that's what happened to me, once because the thermostat went out (and the car overheated), and then when the refill of the radiator (after replacing the thermostat) was a bit too robust. Given that the radiator was just replaced, I'd just make sure your leak isn't really the overflow... your symptoms sound exactly the same as mine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Jaev- I would hope thats only the problem...

Heres an update of what the mechanic said:

Their exact diagnosis was "found evaporator/heater core leaking"

The big issue was with respect to putting the car/engine back together after fixing it. They indicated that Stop Leak would work just find for a short time repair.

The repair that I paid $3k for which I think is a direct cause of this problem indicates on the repair sheet that "replaced radiator and disconnected the a/c condensor and recharged the a/c"

Do you think there is any connection between this work and the subsequent problem now?
 

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Replacing a radiator is very much independent of just about any other part of the cooling system. I've been a mechanic for 25 years, so quite sure about that. As such, I'd say you #3 scenario is quite unlikely. A radiator replacment is quite a traight-forward job. Not sure why it cost you $3k, but either way, it would not affect the engine or heater core, etc.

What is believed to be the problem with your engine? Are they suggesting a blown head gasket or it there something else? Also, cololing smell in the vents starts sounding like heater core and realted plumbing.

Did you car overheat after you cracked the rediator? This could cause a blown head gasket and some cooling system issues.
 

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If the heater core is leaking then you'll certainly get a coolant smell in the cabin of the car. Are they sure that they've actually seen the heater core leaking? I just ask because as someone else also pointed out, after changing a radiator and flushing the system it's common to get some entrapped air. It can take a bit of work to get it out and in the meantime there's certainly a chance the radiator will overflow a little. I know, I just flushed the radiator on my wife's SUV and had a heck of a time getting the system back to normal afterwards just because of entrapped air, and I did have some overflow. This also could cause a coolant smell, but certainly not as strong as a leaking heater core.

If it is indeed the heater core, then it's HIGHLY unlikely that it's related to the radiator replacement. Although both are a part of the same system the heater core is going to be back towards the firewall while the radiator is way up at the front of the engine bay. So it's not like the mechanic could just drop a tool and damage the heater core. Maybe you're just noticing it now if you've just turned the heat on.
 

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As some of you might recall I had the radiator replaced in my Spyder a few months ago when I bottomed it out on a parking block and cracked it. Since I've been away from the car for the last few months it hasn't seen much action. A car buff friend of mine is trying to help me sell it and when he took it out for a test drive the other day he noticed a faint engine coolant smell. This raised major red flags as I just shelled out $3+ grand to have the whole radiator replaced.
Are you sure it is a coolant smell?
These cars are prone to spilling windshield washer antifreeze when making a hard right hand turn. The windshield anti freeze smell then wafts into the passenger cabin.

Can you re-produce the scenario where it makes the smell?
or
Did you pressure check the cooling system to see if it holds pressure.
or
Did the engine compartment get soaked when the radiator leaked, and now that coolant is burning off, and the smell going into the passenger cabin.
 

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82 views and only 1 reply?!?!? I thought you guys might have some good answers for me...guess not!
Ocamilo, I haven't responded because it looks like you are looking for support in trying to find a way to hang this on the mechanic/shop and I personally don't agree with that thinking in this scenariio - at least with the information given.

As mentioned, the heater core/exchanger is way down the road from the radiator. You definitely can't push the issue that they caused the new problem as they weren't in that area. And I don't know how you could prove that the heater core was leaking immediately after the replacement of the radiator, thus justifying that the shop should have caught it. Did the new radiator and associated hoses replacement aggravate a potential problem in the heater core? Possible, as you have 44K miles (I believe) on your car, and as some have experienced - putting new components that raises pressure - whether fluid, hyd, et al - in an old "settled" system is likely to cause something else to give to relieve that newfound pressure. (Research what the F550 owners go through when they replace coolant hoses...)

BTW - here is a comment by Kent Woodworth with regard to getting to the heater core.
http://www.maseratilife.com/forums/showpost.php?p=47014&postcount=10
 

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It sounds like the heater core to me, locate the core and see if you have any drips or anything, just for the love of god don't poke at it or anything, doesn't always go to well. Hehe....:cool:
 
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