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What is a Car Radiator?

 

The Radiator in your vehicle is one of the crucial components in the cooling system. It helps to transfer the heat from the running engine to the air. It is typically made up of an aluminum radiator core, plastic inlet, outlet tanks, and a gasket between the radiator core and tank to prevent the coolant from leaking. If your car has automatic transmission, there will be a transmission oil cooler in the tank to cool down the transmission fluid. Usually, the radiator is larger in a larger vehicle because the engine in a larger vehicle can generate more heat.

 

Aluminum strips that zigzag in between the flattened aluminum tubes typically make up the radiator core. In some older cars, the radiators could be made up of copper and brass. The water pump in the cooling system circulates the coolant through the engine, then the hot coolant flow to the radiator and the fins that are attached to the tubes will transfer a significant amount of heat to the air. The more tubes that a radiator has, the cooling ability of this radiator is better. A radiator fan is located between the radiator and the engine to pull the air through the radiator when your car is static or moving slowly. When the car is moving fast, there will be no need for the motor fan since the air will smash onto the radiator and bring the heat away very efficiently with the help of high speed.

 

On most radiators nowadays, the aluminum tubes run horizontally and the plastic tanks connect to the radiator core on both the left and right sides. There will be two big hose connections, one on each of the plastic tank to allow the coolant flows in and out of the radiator. If your car comes with an automatic transmission, there will be a smaller tank installed in one of the tanks. This smaller tank is used to cool down the transmission oil. Steel tubes will carry hot transmission fluid into the smaller inner tank and bring the cooled transmission fluid back to the automatic transmission.

 

What Cause a Bad Radiator?

 

A radiator can get damaged in many cases. Since it is so important for the cooling system, knowing what could make harm the radiator can help us avoid the unwanted situation better. First of all, just like other parts in your car, a radiator can get old over time. A radiator’s job is to intake the hot coolant and cool it down, then send the coolant back to the engine. The radiator can go through numerous cycles of hot and cold status during the years of driving. Materials of tanks and gaskets age over the thermal cycles, and eventually, the coolant will begin to leak.

 

External forces can also break a radiator. Endless vibrations will act on the radiator whenever the car is moving and contacting the ground. Even though everything in your car was designed to endure road vibrations, the aging of materials is still inevitable under constant vibration. Other than road vibration, another source of external force is a car accident. The radiator is located in the front of your vehicle. When your car crash, it is not hard to imagine how bad the radiator can get.

 

Overheating can also cause a radiator malfunction. Even though a radiator was built to withstand high temperatures and high pressure, there is still a limit. When the engine is overheating, the extreme working condition can cause the components in the radiator to age faster. If the temperature and pressure are a lot higher than the ideal working condition for the radiator, it can even break down directly.

 

Leaking, contaminating, overdue coolant, and extreme temperature can cause radiator problems as well. Without enough coolant, less heat can be taken away and engine overheating might happen. Contaminating and overdue coolant can impact the efficiency of heat exchange, or even block the radiator. Extreme hot weather can cause the engine to overheat and thereby hurts the radiator. Or on the opposite, the radiator can’t cool down the engine fast enough due to the hot weather and thereby causing the engine to overheat and other problems. Under extreme cold weather, the coolant in the system can freeze and damage the radiator if the cold is beyond the anti-freeze capability of the coolant.

 

Symptoms of a Bad Car Radiator

 

  • Engine overheating: The job of the radiator in your car is to cool your engine. So engine overheating is a powerful sign telling you that there can be something wrong with the radiator.
  • Coolant leaks: If you notice any trace of leaking coolant, either close to the radiator or on the floor, it is the time you want to inspect the radiator.
  • Discolored coolant: If you notice your coolant looks dirty, or even muddy, it is a sign of leaking in the system. The bad-quality coolant can block the radiator, so it’s better to fix the leak and replace the coolant as soon as possible.
  • Losing coolant: Coolant will lose gradually, and this is normal. But if you notice your coolant needs to be refilled again and again, more frequently than usual, you may want to check if there is a leak in your radiator.
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