Car Radiator Basics

When asked, most people can point out their car's radiator, but very few know the important role their car's radiator places in maintaining total engine efficiency.  If you are uncertain about why your car even has a radiator, then read on to find out more...

A car's radiator works to keep your car's engine cool by dispersing the heat created by the motor while it is running.  Without a radiator, your car would most likely overheat very quickly and eventually stop working all together.

By keeping your radiator running in tiptop shape, you help to avoid problems associated with overheating that leads to engine damage and finally complete engine failure.

Most radiators are made up of two tanks connected by tubing that is either coiled either vertically or horizontally giving them large amounts of surface area.  They are also built to hold large quantities of liquids and this combination of surface area and fluids give the radiator a way to efficiently disperse your engine's heat into the atmosphere.

Water is the most common liquid used in a radiator and it is circulated through the engine by the water pump through your radiator hose.  The moving fluid continually absorbs heat from the engine and disperses it into the surrounding air to keep the engine at optimal running temperature.

The heated liquid is returned to the radiator and is cooled again as outside air passes through the radiator grill at very high speeds.  The liquid is continually circulated while the engine is running and is an extremely efficient method of cooling your car's motor.

While water can do the job by itself, there are also additives that can make the radiator work even better at keeping the engine cool and running smoothly.  Many people mix a coolant such as antifreeze in their radiators.  This works to disperse the heat faster and absorb more heat as the fluids pass through the engine.

By using antifreeze, your car's motor is protected from damage that could occur if the water froze during the cold winter months.  Antifreeze can withstand freezing in extremely cold conditions that would cause water to turn to ice very quickly and prevent it from circulating through your engine.  Those car manufacturer's are some smart buzzards ain't they??

If your radiator does not do its job properly, your engine will begin to overheat.  If you notice the temperature gauge on your dashboard rising, you can reduce the risk of engine damage by turning off your car's air conditioning.

In addition, turning on the evaporator fan that is located in front of the radiator can add more air going through your vehicle's engine.  You can also turn your heater blower to the highest setting.  This will allow additional hot air to blow away from the engine and help to reduce the engine's temperature.

If these steps do not help, it is best to pull off the road and open the hood of your car to allow the engine to cool faster.  Once the engine has cooled, you can check the radiator's overflow tank coolant level.  If the tank is empty, most likely your radiator needs more coolant.  Make sure to wait until the engine has cooled, otherwise the cap could pop off at a pretty high speed if since the contents are under pressure when the car's engine is hot.

It is important to check your car's radiator coolant level and to inspect the radiator for leakage regularly.  A low coolant level and leaking radiator can cause otherwise preventable damage to your car's engine that can be a large expense later on if not caught quickly.


I hope this helps you to maintain your car's radiator easily and efficiently!

These instructions are provided for your convenience, and does not offer any warranty, express or implied, should you use these instructions and damage your part, and/or your vehicle and/or injure yourself. Use at your own risk.  

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