The great thing about a car is that it gets you from Point A to Point B without you having to know the mechanics behind how it works. From driving to work to going to the shops, your engine is continually put under a lot of stress, and one of the critical components of any healthy (and happy) engine is a smooth-running radiator.
The radiator keeps the engine cool, and by having a cool head, your engine doesn’t go into overdrive by overheating. It also helps increase the performance and lifespan of your vehicle.
As a result, it’s important that you know what car radiator problems to look out for as an early diagnosis can mean a lot of money saved at repair shops and a longer lifespan for your car.
How your radiator functions
Put simply, a radiator works as the vital organ in your engine’s cooling system. A radiator maintains the temperature of your engine thanks to the constant supply of coolant fluid flowing around it. If the engine of your car reaches a high temperature, the thermostat opens which triggers the flow of coolant into the radiator. The fans in the thermostat cool down the coolant fluid which helps regulate the temperature of the engine and allows any excess heat to escape.
Once the process is complete, the coolant fluid leaves the radiator via an exit tube, and the cycle keeps repeating until the engine hits a temperature sweet spot.
The optimal temperature of your vehicle depends on the cooling system your car runs on. Newer vehicles tend to have water cooling systems which maintain a temperature range between 60 to 70 degrees Celsius while older vehicles tend to have a standard air cooling system that maintains a temperature between 75 to 85 degrees Celsius.
To find out the precise temperature range your car operates with, refer to the instruction manual.
Common car radiator problems and how to fix them
When on the road, be situationally aware of the performance of your car and look out for odd happenings such as smoke coming from the engine, weird noises, leaks, and so on.
Upon discovery, it is advised to investigate the issue as even the smallest quips may result to trouble ahead.
Fortunately, it can be simple to handle radiator problems cost-effectively despite not being experienced in car maintenance.
- The leaking coolant
A leaking coolant can be due to pressure build-up and temperature spikes putting your radiator under a lot of stress. Leaks may happen from different parts of your cooling system such as the stainless steel clamps or the rubber hose.
A coolant leak may result in a fluid spill on the ground or on parts of the engine, depending on the source of the leak.
To fix the issue, use a flashlight and inspect the engine bay for any cracks or damage to the rubber hose or the stainless steel clamps. Be sure to also check the radiator cap.
Before touching the cap, ensure the engine is cooled down completely to avoid any burns. Remove the cap and check if the deal is broken or worn and replace it if necessary.
If you are unable to find any obvious leak sources, take your car to a licensed mechanic as the leak may be happening inside the engine head or block.
- The clogged radiator
There are two main reasons why a radiator gets clogged up. The first being old coolant fluid leftover in the system and second, there may be dirt, debris, or bugs blocking off the cooling passage.
An obvious symptom of a blockage is poor internal heating which can be identified quickly and at an early stage. It won’t cost much to get your cooling system flushed.
- A faulty thermostat
Your thermostat acts as your radiator’s gatekeeper. It decides when and how much coolant is needed to enter the radiator based on the engine’s temperature.
Where there is a thermostat failure, the problem is usually in the opening or closing of the thermostat. Luckily, it isn’t expensive to get your thermostat replaced, and early detection will save you a lot.
Article provided by Natrad