One of the most vital working parts of any motor vehicle is the radiator. Some may even say it’s the most important working part of your entire car.
While this may be debatable, it’s certainly responsible for the proper functioning of your car’s engine. Without it, your engine would overheat and your car would be useless.
With this in mind, proper maintenance of your car’s radiator is absolutely necessary to ensure your car runs at its most efficient.
In order to keep your car radiator in tip-top condition, checks and maintenance should be done at least twice a year.
But how do you know when it’s time for a new radiator? In this blog, we highlight the 6 signs to look out for.
Top Signs it’s Time for a New Radiator
So, how does a car radiator work and why is it so important to the proper functioning of your car?
Basically, a radiator is used to keep your car engine’s temperature under control.
Due to the heat generated by the engine’s pistons, its temperature can rise extremely quickly.
Your radiator passes coolant through the engine block to absorb the excessive heat and keep your engine at a cool, working temperature.
If your engine becomes too hot, it will overheat and can ultimately cause damage to your car. This is an expensive headache which can be easily avoided.
Look out for these signals that its time for a new radiator before expensive damage is done to your car.
1. Visibly Leaking Coolant
Coolant is a vital part of the radiator system and is a key component in keeping your engine at a functioning temperature.
However, if you notice visibly leaking coolant spilling out onto the ground beneath your car, there is a problem with your radiator.
You may notice coolant leaking out onto the floor when you are parked or while driving.
But to definitively identify the issue within your radiator, you must take your car to a qualified mechanic.
A pressurized, colored dye test will be conducted and run through your radiator’s cooling system.
If the colored dye leaks out, then your radiator is most likely cracked and you may need a new radiator.
2. An Overheating Vehicle
If your car is persistently overheating, even if you aren’t driving a very long distance, this means there is an underlying issue with your radiator.
The good news is that this type of issue can usually be nipped-in-the-bud early enough before expensive issues arise.
The first or second time your car overheats, it’s important to address the cause immediately. Take your car to a professional mechanic who will be able to pinpoint the issue.
If this issue is left unattended for some time, this can only cause further damage and you may need a completely new radiator.
3. Discolored Coolant or Radiator Sludge
Typically, most radiator coolants are yellow, green or red in color. As your radiator ages, the coolant can discolor and turn a rusty color, eventually turning into a thick sludge.
This thick sludge is highly detrimental to your radiator as it will not drain correctly and eventually clogs the entire system. Radiator sludge is caused by either a lack of radiator maintenance or the mixing of transmission fluid and coolant.
A professional mechanic should be able to identify the cause and replace the coolant.
If this sludge manages to accumulate within your radiator, you will eventually need a new radiator and your engine could also become extensively damaged.
4. Low Coolant Levels
Typically, you shouldn’t have to change or top-off your radiator coolant levels at all if your car is relatively new. Most models of cars require a coolant change after the first 60,000 miles, then at 30,000-mile intervals after that.
If your coolant levels are unusually low and your coolant light is on more often than it should be, it’s high-time for a radiator check-up.
Try not to avoid this issue and have a professional assess the cause before it’s too late and you need a new radiator.
5. Radiator Rust Accumulation
Most components of a radiator are made from metal and are therefore susceptible to rust over time.
Modern radiators may feature a plastic top, however, the rest of the unit is comprised of metal. Over time, these internal metal parts can rust due to the constant exposure to moisture.
When doing your car maintenance, make sure to check the color of your coolant for signs of rust. If it’s a brownish color, you may have a rust accumulation throughout your cooling system.
You will need to take your car to a mechanic to have your radiator flushed to remove the rust build-up.
Make sure to use high-quality coolant and distilled water when refilling your radiator to avoid failure of your radiator and car engine.
6. A Faulty Thermostat
If your car is consistently overheating, another cause could be a faulty thermostat within your radiator system.
In fact, a faulty thermostat is known as one of the most common causes of radiator overheating.
The radiator thermostat acts as a valve which controls the level and flow of the coolant throughout the radiator. If this thermostat fails, your radiator coolant levels can go haywire.
Take your car to a mechanic if you suspect a faulty thermostat and ensure this component is replaced before you need a new radiator altogether!
Common Causes of Radiator Replacement
Just some of these scenarios are likely to cause issues with your radiator, so keep these in mind when assessing the cause of your radiator faults:
1. A Recent Car Accident
Have you recently been involved in a front-end or head-on collision? If so, your radiator is highly susceptible to damage or replacement.
Even side-on accidents are a common cause for concern when it comes to radiator damage. Try not to have your current radiator repaired and rather opt for a full replacement.
Radiator repair is a lengthy, expensive task and often doesn’t include a new warranty. Purchasing a new radiator will work out cheaper and you will have a warranty to fall back on.
2. Unchecked Overheating
Leaving your car to repeatedly overheat spells death for your radiator. If you don’t assess and repair the cause of your radiator overheating, it will eventually need to be completely replaced.
Very often it involves a simple repair such as cooling replacement or sealing a crack. But if this is avoided for too long, your radiator will completely pack in and need to be replaced.
3. A Defective Pressure Cap
The pressure cap of your radiator is extremely important in signaling when your radiator is under too much pressure.
If the pressure cap is not functioning at 100%, there will be no way for you to know your radiator needs a break. This can cause your radiator to completely burn out, destroying the radiator unit and damaging your car engine.
4. Worn Down Soldering
The joints of your radiator are made by a process of soldering. When these soldered joints become worn down and weakened, this can lead to leaks and cracks forming in your radiator.
Additionally, an accumulation of rust can also lead to worn soldering which can create further leakage throughout your radiator.
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