Most Common Causes of a Damaged Car Radiator

The interior of a car

A good car radiator is vital to the operation of your car. Without it, the vehicle won’t run; it’s as simple as that. It’s important that you keep your car radiator in good condition. There are a number of things that can damage a car radiator. Some you can avoid, but others will be beyond your control.


A front end collision will inevitably damage your radiator. Outside the frame, modern cars aren’t especially strong. If something hits you head-on, it will damage, and quite possibly destroy, your radiator.

Accidents are probably the single most common cause of radiator damage to cars. In almost every instance, the entire radiator has to be replaced. This is because repairing a radiator can be a lengthy - and therefore very expensive - business. It’s simpler and cheaper to put in a new one, especially if you have a warranty on the car radiator.


Extended overheating can cause a great deal of damage to a car radiator. This will happen if the car runs for a long period with not enough coolant. Although it’s not a situation that will often arise, it can happen, especially if the coolant leaks out because of a hole in the radiator that can’t easily be fixed.

Luckily, unless the damage is very severe, the radiator can be fixed; it’s made to withstand a great deal. Allow it to cool properly, pour some water into it and open the spigot at the bottom. See if the water goes through, and whether there are any holes on the way.


Rust can not only clog a radiator, it can also rot it through. If you don’t flush your radiator periodically, then rust can gradually accumulate. It can reach the point where the car radiator becomes clogged and eventually useless. This is especially true with older cars. You should inspect your coolant regularly. If it’s brown, then you definitely need to flush your radiator and refill with new coolant. It will prevent damage, your car won’t run as hot, and it will run more efficiently. Neglecting your car can mean expensive damage to the car radiator.

Checking your coolant should be part of your regular car maintenance schedule. Apart from when to flush, it allows lets you see if you need to add more coolant.

Defective Pressure Cap

You rely on the pressure cap to do its job properly, and blow if there’s too much pressure in the radiator. If the pressure cap is defective, that won’t happen. You might not even be aware of it, other than the car starts running very hot. The result of a defective cap can end up destroying the car radiator.


Solder is used on joints in the radiator. This can break down and cause not only leaks, but the complete failure of the radiator. You’ll find it most often on the header and tubes of a car radiator. Rust can also cause a degradation of the solder, which leads to leaks in the car radiator.