A cooling system consists of six main parts: an engine, a radiator, a water pump, a cooling fan, hoses, and a thermostat.
The radiator's primary function is to transfer coolant heat to the outside air. In other words, a radiator prevents an engine from overheating. An engine running at the optimum temperature involves the oil lubricating the engine being of the perfect consistency to keep the parts turning smoothly. A malfunctioning radiator may cause significant engine damage due to overheating. In fact, most cars you see blowing smoke on the side of the road are the ones with malfunctioning radiators!
The following are the signs that indicate that your radiator is failing:
Overheating is a very common symptom indicating that the coolant cannot reach where it needs to go because the radiator is not functioning properly. You may see a warning light, or your temperature gauge may clue you in. If you see these signs, it's important to quickly get your vehicle off the road to avoid it breaking down and address the issue as soon as the vehicle starts to overheat.
If you notice coolant pooling under your vehicle while it is parked or smell antifreeze, your vehicle has a leak. Whether it is the radiator itself or a hose or an engine block, a leak should be addressed as soon as possible.
The coolant in your vehicle should be yellow, green or red in colour. If the coolant appears discoloured at any time – rusty or oily – it is a sign of contaminants building up in your radiator. In this case, the fluid is not able to cool the engine efficiently, as it is not drained out properly and remains in the radiator. If you or a mechanic notice sludge in your radiator, it will need to be replaced, as it can cause extensive damage to the engine and transmission. A number of issues can cause your engine coolant to become discoloured, and a mechanic should review the system right away in such a case.
If you are constantly adding coolant to your radiator or the 'low coolant' light on your vehicle's dash keeps turning on, most likely your vehicle has a leak. You should have your vehicle properly checked.
While the thermostat is not actually a part of the radiator itself, it significantly helps the cooling system. The thermostat's principal purpose is to keep a vehicle's engine operating at just the optimum temperature. A thermostat is a small device that sits between the engine and the radiator. It senses engine temperature and controls coolant flow through the radiator. It reduces the coolant flow when the engine is cold and increases the coolant flow when the engine is hot. When the thermostat fails, it increases the risk of overheating. In this case, replacing the thermostat as soon as possible is recommended.
Is one of the best ways to prevent engine failure. This should be done at least once every two years, especially if your vehicle is more than five years old. The radiator maintenance service includes the following:
To be cool, the radiator always needs to remain clean. With time, sludge, rust and other solid deposits build up inside your vehicle's radiator. Such build-up makes the cooling system clogged and less effective. A radiator flush, also referred to as a cooling system flush, is the process of adding a cleaner to the cooling system to eliminate harmful contaminants or rust. The system is then flushed thoroughly, and new, proper antifreeze and conditioner are added to protect against corrosion. This service prolongs the life of the entire cooling system and its components, such as radiators, heater cores, hoses, coolant pipes, water pumps and gaskets. A radiator flush differs from topping off the coolant because harmful contaminants are flushed out of the cooling system completely while new, clean fluid is added.
Generally, radiator flushing is recommended about every 30,000 miles or 5 years, whichever comes first. An accurate test on coolant will help identify whether the coolant is dirty and corrosive and whether it is time for the radiator flush service.
Keeping your radiator in good working condition is the key to your vehicle's overall health and performance. As soon as you notice coolant leaking, your vehicle overheating, low coolant, or the presence of sludge in your radiator, contact us online or call us at 905-381-9285.