That’s one small leak in my radiator...

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One giant repair bill for my wallet. Back story: noticed a weird vibration accelerating from 2nd, to 3rd gear in the GLK back in June. Took it to the independent shop that had replaced the transmission mount, and previously had done the transmission service (regular preventative, noticed no performance issues before or after the service). They weren't too sure what the issue was, after checking that they'd gotten the fluid level correct, so sent it off to the MB dealership for a more in-depth look at what the F was going on. Fluid tests show transmission fluid in the coolant, and additional testing of the transmission fluid showed coolant in there. So the radiator cooler, which is inside the radiator had failed after only 7 years, they couldn't explain "why" that would happen. 2 months, and $10,089.55 later, Gunter has been returned to me. Just sharing so y'all can commiserate with me. Ally, who I bought a drivetrain warranty through, eventually picked up $7,390 of the tab, after twice trying to deny any coverage, leaving me with a tab of $2,982.77

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Not sure which is more egregious...3 dollar bolts or 70 dollar hoses. FWIW glycol in the trans will bother the adhesive that holds the clutch facings to the plates. It typically gets in the trans after the engine is shut off and there's pressure on the engine coolant side but none in the trans oil side of the cooler. When the engine is running the leak goes in the other direction since the trans fluid pressure in the cooler is usually higher than the glycol side.
 
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I guess the good news is you got their multi point inspection done as a courtesy for all guests! Sorry to hear about the damages and costs. Not sure what wasn't covered by the warranty or why, but at least they did pick up about 70% of it. Still, I think a good warranty company would have picked up all except your deductible if any.
 

RichardS

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Nascarnation, The one that stuck out to me was a bill for 12 quarts of transmission fluid to fill a unit that only holds 9 quarts. I guess maybe the cooler inside the radiator holds another 3 quarts? Yeah, they mentioned the glycol in the coolant ruining the transmission, and the ethanol in the transmission fluid causing swelling of the radiator hoses. But they didn't replace the heater hoses, or any other small, rubber hoses. I didn't argue, I didn't want to pay for *more* hoses. I had initially planned to have MB drop in the new trans unit, and then flatbed it to my independent shop for the other repairs (to save me a fair bit), but after strong arming the warranty company into covering the transmission, they would only cover it if I had all the other parts replaced on the same invoice. But after what MB went through, and the 6 weeks of back-and-forty between them and Ally, I'm not too upset. I just won't be upgrading my reef tank this year. Or next. LS973800, The warranty covered only drivetrain parts, and damage caused by failure of related systems. Because the failure was in the radiator, but was the transmission cooler, which caused the damage to the transmission, and isn't part of the "drivetrain", they initially felt they weren't obligated to replace the transmission, at all. Frankly, if it weren't for a persistent service advisor at the dealership, they might have gotten away with denying it. They went as far as to send an inspector to the dealership to argue with the service advisor after about 5 weeks. The angle that ended up working was "it wasn't the radiator that failed, and the warranty doesn't expressly say the transmission cooler *isn't* covered", and a refusal from MB to accept their "no" that got any of it covered. The Ally representative just wanted to get out of there.
 

RichardS

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LS973800, Also: they did the multi-point back in May when they replaced the air bags, and gave me a $5,900 repair estimate for a bunch of stuff. But this inspection returned no additional repair work needed, so maybe that $1,604 quote for new engine mounts wasn't the necessary? I feel like it should have come up again.
 

RichardS

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Leo99, Wow, indeed! I don't know whose idea it was to marry the trans and engine cooler, but I hope they're still laughing. Imp4, I really do love this car. It's an absolutely fantastic machine to operate. They've had me in a 2019 GLC300, "we've got you in the replacement for your car" they told me when I picked it up. It may have been Mercedes replacement for my model, but it really was a step down. The electric steering and 4 banger was a poor swap. So I guess they went with "or nothing".
 
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This exact thing happened with my 2017 Chevy Spark a month ago. Trans cooler leaked fluid into the radiator. 3,000 mile used transmission $300, new radiator $100, hoses $50, coolant and flush chemicals $25. Misc $25. [Linked Image]
 
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I felt like my world would end when this happened to my Expedition, but I got lucky that the coolant did not go back to the transmission....at least that is the thinking, time will tell, lots of new fluid, cleansers, hoses and new transmission filter and fluid. I could not even imagine what you went through, that is a whole other level of pain! Since it happened to me, yours is the 3rd post I have seen with the same problem. What's the deal with these failing radiators, is it that common of a problem? Cheaper manufacturing? Some form of internal corrosion/fluid compatability? Is it too much to ask to get more than 7 years from a radiator before destroying a transmission? I got 5 years out of mine.
 
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My goodness that's a serious repair bill. An extended warranty is a good thing when it comes to expensive vehicles and unusual or trouble prone components. I would agree that many modern vehicles with half an engine, fall short of the "gold standard" of prior generation vehicles. I have 3 F150's, the one I love has an old school V8, 6 speed automatic and hydraulic rack-n-pinion steering, just like God intended. It's instantly responsive, does not hunt for gears, smooth as butter, and it's fun.
 
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Originally Posted by RichardS
Wow, indeed! I don't know whose idea it was to marry the trans and engine cooler, but I hope they're still laughing.
Not uncommon. Many vehicles with auto trans have this design. Which is why I recommend either: a) re-routing the stock trans cooler lines to an external, independent ATF cooler OR b) changing the rad every 5 years as preventative maintenance (been seriously considering doing this on the Lexus). You'll not only extend the life of the engine and it's cooling system, but the transmission from future failures such as this. EDIT: turns out my Lexus does not have this design. But that doesn't mean I can skimp out on ATF changes. no-no
 

RichardS

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Atikovi, My hat's off to you! But there was no warranty on a 2 year old car? Fitz98, I was fine, until the first time they denied the warranty claim. Only then did I cringe. Mercedes actually had a recall for the c-class with a particular radiator manufacturer that kept failing. But the GLK wasn't included. But hard agree that 5-7 years seems like an artificially short life cycle. CuJet, Agree! The motor and transmission in the GLC seemed well paired, and it didn't hunt for gears, but it was just odd. More drivetrain noise than my 6 cylinder, and running higher rpms to get going. The start/stop, hold, and coast features were nice. I'll miss those. Lolvoguy, Doesn't Toyota's WS fluid last forever thanks to fairy dust, and Japanese magic?! The radiator combo may be common now, but they need to figure out the hiccups, me thinks. Good idea on routing an external cooler!
 
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My Ford PSD has two cooling systems for the engine itself. I assume they are each at a different operating temp. But only a guess. Or maybe an engine designer saw a little free space under the hood in a prototype and thought over what else they could jam in there.
 

RichardS

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Donald, That does seem really odd! Perhaps it's just an auxiliary that is employed under heavy loads, or high temperature situations? Nick1994, Technically, it was $10,089.55 after "shop supplies" were billed on. I guess the $179 an hour for labor doesn't pay for gloves or paper towels.
 
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