Your car’s radiator has an essential job. It keeps the engine from overheating by pumping coolant through it. This coolant receives heat and moves it away from your engine block.
Your vehicle’s radiator has thin metal fins. It is these that are instrumental in transporting the engine’s heat into the air outside your car.
If your radiator isn’t working, then your car will overheat. That’s a costly fix, so you need to keep an eye on your radiator and cooling system.
Let’s explore some ways you can tell that your car radiator is having problems.
Green Liquid Under the Vehicle
Any time that your vehicle is leaking liquid, it’s never a good sign. You might notice this happening:
- When you’ve parked the car in the driveway or garage
- When you’re driving, and you look back to see a drip trail
Liquid color can help determine what the problem is. In the case of radiator issues, you’re looking for green liquid, since that’s probably coolant.
What you’ll need to do is ask a mechanic to perform a pressure test. This can determine the leak’s source.
If the leak’s not bad, you might be able to repair the broken part or get a patch. A hose is one obvious potential leak point.
If the issue is more serious, then the mechanic will tell you so, and you might need to replace the radiator completely. Getting a new, well-reviewed performance radiator is an option.
Rust is your enemy as a car owner. Sometimes it’s hard to avoid, though, especially if you live in an area that gets lots of snow in the winter, and you don’t have a garage where you can store your car.
If this is your situation, it’s smart to get your car washed frequently in the winter, to get some of that accumulated salt off.
Rust can impact the radiator, too. Sometimes:
- A piece of rust falls in the engine
- It mixes with the coolant, producing a thick liquid
- The engine can no longer cool itself as effectively
The only way you’ll be able to tell that this is happening is if the engine overheats. When you take the car to the shop, the mechanic can flush out the radiator. This will get rid of the contaminated coolant.
You have to get that sludge removed, or else you’ll get corrosion. At least flushing out the radiator does not cost as much as getting it replaced.
There is a thermostat in your car, and it is not a radiator part. However, what’s happening with your thermostat might indicate what’s going on with your radiator.
A thermostat problem can lead directly to an engine overheating. You won’t have much trouble telling if that’s what it is going on. Your engine will overheat very rapidly.
If that happens, you might have to get the vehicle towed to the repair shop. You just have to hope that it didn’t happen when you’re out on the highway in rush hour or in an area far from a tow truck or a car repair shop.
Water Pump Failure
Your cooling system also features a water pump. If it fails, then it cannot pump the coolant through the engine. The temperature won’t get the proper regulation.
Since you won’t be getting the needed circulation, the vehicle will overheat. Water pump failure is one of the more common radiator problems that you can have. However, it is not an expensive fix.
Air in the Cooling System
You never want to trap air in the cooling system, but it happens. When it does, the coolant cannot flow, impeding the system’s basic functionality.
The coolant won’t do the job that it’s supposed to do with air present. Again, you’re going to have overheating, and that will be your warning sign.
A mechanic can remove the air bubbles from the cooling system. This is another fix that will cost you some money, but not as much as a radiator replacement.
As you look at these indicators that something has gone wrong with your car’s radiator, there is a commonality. In many cases, regardless of the particulars, the vehicle overheating is the reaction.
Whenever that happens, there is a better than average chance that the radiator is to blame in some way. If you don’t know much about cars, you’ll need to get to a mechanic who can tell you just what the issue is and how much it will cost to fix it.