If you don’t know much about your car radiator, don’t be embarrassed, you are not alone. Drivers tend to ignore their radiator – until they have to hire Miami Dade towing recovery to help their broken vehicle. However, when they do, they realize its importance.
In the simplest words, the radiator is a fundamental component of your vehicle that keeps it running efficiently. When your car is constantly running, the different engine parts move up and down to generate friction and heat that can go as high as 210 Fahrenheit. Like a warrior, your radiator will save your car from this intense heat by cooling it down.
But, if something goes with the radiator, the increased heat can cause havoc on other engine components. This often leads to overheating in the engine and ultimately vehicle breakdown. Therefore, learning about these potential problems might help you prevent them in the first place. But first things first, let’s look at how exactly the radiator works.
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Purpose of a Car Radiator and How it Works
Under the hood of your vehicle, there is a cooling system installed that serves the purpose of venting out excess heat generated during operation. The radiator is part of this cooling system along with a liquid coolant – a mixture of antifreeze and water – a fan, and a thermostat.
When running, every time the internal engine temperature exceeds a manageable level, the thermostat opens up, and the liquid coolant flows through the hoses and into the radiator. From the radiator, the coolant passes through the engine to absorb the heat and then travel back. Once in the radiator, it is pumped through thin metal fins that release the heat into the outside air.
Likewise, when a vehicle is not moving – idling in traffic maybe – the fan does its part to cool the engine down. The system fan blows air through the heated coolant to reduce the engine temperature.
Once the coolant is cooled to a certain point, the radiator pumps it back into the engine to repeat the cycle. This repeated process keeps a vehicle running without overheating.
Common Car Radiator Problems
- Radiator hose leaks
A radiator with leaking hoses is a common occurrence. The hoses that connect the radiator and the engine take a daily grind from the pressure of hot coolant running back and forth. This pressure build-up and heat swings cause severe wear and tear to the hoses, eventually damaging or loosening them. Either way, the hot coolant escapes the cooling system, thereby leading to overheating. So, it is best to replace your radiator hoses regularly to avoid potential failure in the future.
- Radiator body leaks
Cracks or leaks in the radiator itself are much more problematic than leaks in the hoses. This is because they are harder to locate. One notable sign is a stream of bubbles or steam coming from around the radiator body. However, sometimes you might notice some green fluid under or near your parked vehicle. Radiator leaks are not entirely preventable; however, regular vehicle maintenance and service can help you detect early signs. Even though these leaks can often be patched, doing it on your own can be dangerous. It involves working around the hot engine, so the job is better left to the roadside help network.
- Rust build-up
The car radiator is highly susceptible to rust build-up with all the essential ingredients, namely the air, water, and metal. Unlike the apparent rust on the outside of a car, a rusty radiator can be tricky to notice but cause leaks or malfunctions.
To keep track of your radiator’s health, check the level as well as the color of the coolant inside the radiator. If the coolant looks brownish, it indicates excessive rust build-up in the radiator. Luckily, you can avoid or at least minimize the level of this rust in the cooling system. The trick is to flush your radiator with a radiator cleaner after every 20,000 to 30,000 miles.
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Additionally, using high-quality antifreeze with distilled water as your coolant is also a good idea to prevent a rusty radiator.
- Faulty thermostat or water pump
When a car runs too hot and there are no signs of rust build-up or leaks in the radiator, the thermostat is often the culprit. Since both these parts are interconnected as a cooling system, the other faces the consequences when one goes wrong. So, when the thermostat fails, the radiator does not receive any coolant to pass into the engine. Similarly, the coolant will not be pumped with the required force when the water pump is faulty. In both cases, the radiator won’t work efficiently, and your car will heat up. The only way to avoid this problem is to get the entire cooling system serviced at recommended intervals.
- Gunk deposit and blockage
The fluid coolant you use is not always the cleanest. And when it is not, gunk or mineral by-products from it could accumulate in the radiator. Over time, small gunk deposits turn into more extensive full-on blockages that restrict the coolant flow from the radiator. This way, the hot engine does not receive enough fluid to cool down, getting hotter and hotter.
Besides, debris and several other junks can clog parts of your cooling system. The solution is simple: flush the radiator with suitable quality coolant to clear out any gunk once a year. But, if it’s too late for flushing and the blockage is severe, you might need a radiator replacement.
Your engine health and performance almost solely depend on the radiator. So, there is every reason to take care of it. To avoid potential radiator problems, top up your coolant level, check the radiator for leaks and rust, and follow regular maintenance.
Still, if your car frequently heats up, it is recommended to get it inspected by a professional mechanic before ending up stranded on the road.