Knowing When Your Radiator Needs to be Replaced

car radiator

The radiator is one of the most commonly repaired parts among cars that have been used over a long period. Radiator-related problems could be due to many reasons and some of them can be resolved through a basic, auto-repair regimen. However, sometimes a complete overhaul or a radiator replacement is needed. Replacing a radiator is an expensive proposition so it’s important to identify whether it actually needs replaced. The need for replacing a radiator can be confirmed through some small, easy-to-do inspection techniques explained below.

1. Establishing Radiator Rusting

Rusting can happen along the outside and inside of the radiator. Usually, when metal flakes start appearing on the radiator’s body, extreme rusting is indicated. However, interior rusting is more damaging. The first indication of excessive, internal rusting is the color of the radiator fluid — the coolant. The coolant should retain the color of its packaged form. If the coolant appears too watery and there is floating debris, radiator rusting is indicated. If the coolant develops a distinct, sludge-like appearance, it means small particles of weathered rust, along with coolant debris, is being sucked into the coolant lines. This form of damage to the radiator is irreversible and replacing the radiator is the only solution. Minimal rusting to the outside doesn't warrant a replacement. However, if some spots of external rusting have given way to rusting along the core of the radiator, a replacement eventually becomes necessary.

2. Establishing Radiator Leakage

green build up indicating a radiator leak

Sticky coolant debris often disrupts the coolant flow. This creates excessive pressure along the radiator hoses, causing them to leak. This is the most common cause of leakage among car radiators. In order to inspect radiator leakage, the coolant needs to be flushed-out. Never do this inspection with a running car. You should approach the coolant section when the engine hasn’t been used for at least three-to-four hours. The basic configuration of most automobile radiators is similar. It consists of two radiator hoses. It is best to drain out the coolant by disengaging the lower hose. Direct the disengaged hose into a dried plastic jug. Make sure to properly dispose of radiator waste. After the coolant has been emptied, flush the radiator with cold water. Use a garden hose to apply pressurized water. This helps to wash away the coolant debris. Ideally, you should insert the hose in the radiator filler opening for at least 15 minutes to allow thorough cleaning. Withdraw the hose and let all the water drip-away. Now, refill the collected coolant. If you find that the radiator is still leaking, it means that any kind of repair won't last for very long. Replacing the radiator is recommended in this situation.

3. Establishing Underperforming Coolant Action

It should be understood that the effectivity of the coolant is dictated by the condition of the radiator. If your car heats-up repeatedly, an underperforming radiator could be the reason. If this happens even after repeated coolant and water replacement, a faulty radiator is almost guaranteed. Overheating leads to quick depletion of the coolant. Here, the coolant escapes in the form of steam. Conventional garage repairs don’t work in this scenario. Leak sealers can only provide temporary relief. Such overheated engines require a radiator replacement.