JNC Wagon Breaks Down at Another Junkyard

toyota_cressida_wagonOur poor little JNC Wagon! It’s like the Giving Tree of cars. It relinquishes every ounce of pull we demand of it and yet we just keep asking and asking for more. It hauls loads of magazines and our booth to car shows, makes runs to the junkyard, and even jaunts down to Wal-Mart when we need new socks.

Sometimes bits of the ol’ girl just can’t hold out any longer and conk out, but she always makes sure we’re within walking distance of salvation.

The first time this happened our Cressida fractured a wheel bearing. But instead of losing a wheel on the highway, she held out until we were going half a mile per hour in a parking lot. a junkyard parking lot no less, where her fallen comrades lay a few feet away, ready to give up their wheel bearings for the cause.

Perhaps this is because she’s named after Cressida, a tough female character from the story of the Trojan War who was the equal of any man. And today, she endured once again to carry us to safety. We didn’t think we’d have another wagon worklog so soon after the shocks install but here it is.

toyota_cressida_radiator_01It was just after the JNC Junkyard Crawl when Dan and I noticed the temperature gauge planted firmly in the red. We immediately turned off the car and coasted to a stop. The sweet smell of boiling coolant greeted us when we opened the hood. The cooling system is pressurized and can overheat pretty quickly if that pressure is lost – and our unhappy Cressida was bubbling coolant from two ruptures in the radiator core.

We let the car cool for a bit and limped back to the junkyard. Man, it was hotter than the surface of the sun out there but we managed to pull this rad from a donor Cressida while melting. Cost: $40.

toyota_cressida_radiator_03
Changing a radiator is so simple a trained orangutan can do it. Luckily we had our mega-sized vice-grips to squeeze the large clamps (see, there’s nothing this tool can’t do!) on the upper and lower radiator hoses. Get ready for a geyser of coolant shooting sideways all over your suspension. Loosening the radiator cap lets air in to help the coolant exit without gurgling everywhere, but only a little.

Then we undid the bolts for the two support brackets, the overflow reservoir hose, and in the X70 Cressida the reservoir bottle needs to come out too. On the bottom end, two automatic transmission cooler hoses must be disconnected, because we are lame enough to be driving a slushbox.

toyota_cressida_radiator_04Toyota’s smart radiator shroud design let us simply unclip this semicircular piece so we could remove the shroud without futzing around with the fan.

toyota_cressida_radiator_05Two shroud-to-radiator bolts later and here it is.

toyota_cressida_radiator_06Out with the old. We weren’t technically supposed to be working on the car in parking lot. Understandably, the junkyard wants the half-disassembled cars inside, not out front. One of the employees came over and told us we were breaking the rules, but was pretty cool about letting us finish the job.

toyota_cressida_radiator_08At this point we were pretty much stranded. We put the new radiator in, but had no fluids to fill it with. So I hitched a ride with a Mexican bloke in a white Jetta to the nearest gas station in exchange for a soda. Thanks, buddy!

Freakin’ $14 for a gallon of coolant! Oh well, what choice did we have? Back at the car, Dan and I alternated pours of coolant and water to get a 50-50 mix, roughly.

toyota_cressida_radiator_09The key is not forgetting to squeeze and pump the lower radiator hose while pouring to get all the air out of the system. If air bubbles are trapped in the system, the car can overheat again.

toyota_cressida_radiator_10Finally, we were done, hands sticky with coolant and heads ready to spontaneously combust from the blazing heat. This is a closeup of the culprit. The holes that caused all our woes were microscopic.

toyota_cressida_radiator_11Three hours later than intended, we were back on the road again, Cressida as cool as an iced cucumber. Man, this car is the greatest!

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14 Responses to JNC Wagon Breaks Down at Another Junkyard

  1. J.Ramirez (zetozeto99) said:

    Good thing you guys were close enough to that bone-yard! Great to see she made it out ok!

  2. GEN2TWINCAM said:

    Good thing you guys keep a camera handy!
    I guess one never knows when some blog fodder will appear – a lesson to us all! :-)

  3. Bob said:

    Haha, very nice. When I picked up my Celica in San Fran, the radiator on the Cherokee that took us all the way there from Detroit cracked. It was dripping ever so lightly, but my friend was freaking out and ended up paying a tire shop $500 to replace it. :rolleyes:

    $14 for a bottle of coolant is pretty ridiculous though. But I can relate, what can you do. :shrug:

  4. Bob said:

    I’d also never heard the squeezing the bottom rad hose trick either. I’ll have to keep that in mind, luckily I’ve never had an issue previously, but who knows…

  5. BlownArrow! said:

    At least you made there! :-D I wasn’t so lucky :-(

  6. vballin said:

    Yesterday was a scorcher! I wouldn’t want to do ANY kind of work on my car in those conditions..

  7. immorality said:

    Ha, I’ve got an x8 Cressida and I knew exactly what that semi circular plastic thing was before I scrolled down to the description. Unfortunately I also know what a blown head gasket looks like too. I love the JNC Cressida stories, keep it up!

  8. Zukiru said:

    I too, preach of the joys of vise clamps!

    the ultimate multi-tool

  9. j.a.c.k said:

    man, never a dull moment huh guys? haha. the old school gods are watchin’ out for you for reals. what are the chances of twice breaking down and both times bein’ close to the junkyard??? haha

  10. RobertS said:

    consider re-torquing your headbolts, if it was cooking for a long time you may have some head warpage which could turn into the dreaded BHG down the track

  11. Dennis said:

    You guys are badasses… enough said lol

  12. jamil said:

    10 years ago i had this car and i was like this car is crap and i got rid of it for a camry. Now i miss it so badly…