3 Common Radiator Problems and How to Avoid Them
Radiator problems can be prevented as long as proper care and maintenance is given attention to this crucial part of the cooling system. Remember that wear and tear as well as old age will contribute greatly to the efficiency of your radiator. The cooling system in your car is designed to maintain ideal engine operating temperature as tremendous heat is produced due to the process of combustion. Common radiator problems should be inspected immediately to prevent further engine damage. Common radiator problems may include the following:
1. Radiator Overheating
When a car overheats, the radiator is the first point of inspection to determine any possible problem. Overheating could be caused by:
- low/empty coolant level
- broken auxiliary fans or malfunction
- broken hoses that result in coolant leak; and
- broken/damaged or dirty radiator
In the event of an engine overheat, park the car in a safe place and pop open the hood to allow the engine to ventilate. Check if the auxiliary fans are working and check coolant hoses for possible leaks. A greenish or bluish fluid leak could mean a broken or worn out hose. If no leak is evident check the coolant level in the coolant reservoir. DO NOT OPEN the engine radiator cap. Fill the reservoir with water or coolant when necessary. Contact the nearest service center or mechanic if overheating persists.
2. Rust Accumulation
The radiator is made of metal and is susceptible to rust. Modern radiator designs incorporate a plastic top which is the area most prone to rusting but the internal parts are consistently exposed to moisture as well. With the engine cold, pop open the hood and remove the radiator cap. Check for coolant level and color. A brownish fluid would mean excessive rust inside the cooling system and flushing is then recommended. Inspect the radiator cap and the surrounding area for any signs of rust. Have the radiator inspected if excess rust is present.
To prevent rust from accumulating in your radiator, use high quality coolant or anti freeze mixed with adequate amounts of distilled water. Never use tap water to refill your radiator or reservoir. Metal parts in the cooling system are made of aluminum and would benefit from the use of distilled water and coolant. Have the radiator flushed at least once a year to prevent accumulation of rust which will affect the efficiency of your radiator and result to engine overheat.
3. Radiator Leaks
A radiator leak is most often caused by old age and should be repaired/replaced immediately. Accidents could also cause radiator damage and should be inspected thoroughly in the event of a road mishap. Flying stones or rocks in the road may also hit the radiator and cause a harmful leak. This would lead to coolant loss and engine overheat. If any sign of leak is evident on your radiator, have this problem inspected and repaired immediately. If the leak is persistent have the radiator replaced to prevent any problems in the future. Remember to use the right kind of coolant and water to fill your radiator.
It would be a good idea to inspect the condition of your radiator whenever possible or at least once a week. Check your radiator for proper coolant level before taking a long trip and bring along at least a liter of distilled water and coolant to prepare for any road emergency that may arise.