Know your vehicle's radiator and signs that it's failing.
Updated: Jul 28, 2020
A vehicles coolant system is built up of many components, the radiator is one of the main parts.
Why does your vehicle need a radiator?
Engines create a lot of heat when they are operating, to help with this the vehicle has a cooling system. This system will pump a fluid called coolant through the engine. The
coolant is designed to get the heat transferred to it, so it can carry it away from the engine to protect it. This fluid will get to your radiator which blows air across the liquid, cooling it down and exchanging heat with the air outside of our vehicle. This is important since it is the main way your engine vents heat during operation. If not working correctly could cause massive engine damage from over hearing
How does a radiator work?
The radiator works by passing the coolant through thin metal fins, which allow the heat to flow to the air outside your vehicle. The coolant then flows from the inlet to the outlet through many tubes mounted in a parallel arrangement. The amount of heat transferred to the tubes from the fluid running through them depends on the difference in temperature between the tube, and the fluid touching it. This means if the fluid is in contact with the tube, it cools down quickly and less heat will be transferred. Some of the tubes will have a fin type insert called a turbulator, this will increase the flow of fluid through the tubes. By doing this, it creates turbulence inside the tube which allows all the fluids to mix together, keeping the temperature of the fluids touching the tubes so that more heat can be extracted. Some radiators usually have a tank on each side, and inside is a transmission cooler. A transmission cooler is like a radiator within a radiator, except instead of exchanging heat with the air, the oil exchanges heat with the coolant in the radiator
Signs you may have an issue with your radiator (or another cooling system component):
Your vehicle is overheating
Your vehicle is leaking coolant: if you see coolant (a sweet smelling fluid) under your vehicle while it is parked, that is a sure sign that something is wrong. A technician will perform a pressure test to determine the source of the leak, allowing them to confirm what part has failed.
Sludge building up in your radiator: if coolant appears discolored at any time (a rust or oil color) this is a sign of contamination which can impact your radiators performance.
Low coolant levels: if you are adding coolant to your radiator, or the “low coolant” light on your vehicle keeps turning on, it is a sign that you have a leak.
If you have any of these signs, you could call your mechanic right away. An issue with the coolant system could cause major damage to the engine.