Understanding Why Car Radiators Fail

Your car’s radiator has a critical job to perform, despite receiving very little fanfare. While you’re driving, your engine operates at extremely high temperatures. Left on its own, the heat would keep climbing until the moving parts seized. The assembly would suffer damage and likely need to be replaced – a very costly proposition.
Oil courses through the engine and provides a small bit of relief from the constant high temperatures. But this relief is insufficient for protecting the assembly. Your radiator is needed to fill the gap. Coolant moves through your vehicle’s engine and carries heat away from it. The coolant travels to the radiator to release this heat before circulating back to the assembly.
The problem is, this component can fail. When it does, the coolant loses its opportunity to get rid of the heat taken from your engine. This can quickly cause the temperature surrounding your engine to climb, eventually bringing the assembly – and your vehicle – to a dead stop. This article will describe the main factors that can cause your car’s radiator to fail.
Corrosion Buildup
Corrosion can accumulate within the radiator for a few reasons. The first reason directly involves the coolant. If you neglect to replace the coolant periodically, it will eventually cause the inside of the component to deteriorate. Coolant is designed with compounds that are supposed to prevent this from happening. Unfortunately, these compounds become less effective over time.
The second reason involves the electrical connection – or, lack thereof – between your vehicle’s engine and the surface of the road. Without a solid connection, the charge sent by your alternator or ignition system will travel through the coolant and potentially cause corrosion to form within your radiator. This corrosion, given enough time, ends of eating through the aluminum of the component.
Structural Damage
Besides corrosion-related problems, your radiator can also suffer structural damage (though, this is less common). One of the reasons it occurs is due to insufficient antifreeze within the coolant when the temperature outside drops. If ice forms, it can expand and create fractures in the component.
The part’s location can also cause problems. The radiator sits near the front of engine compartment, which exposes it to small objects on the road. While traveling at high speeds, small rocks may be kicked up by other Car Maintenance Costs cars. These rocks can go through the front grill and penetrate the component, especially if corrosion has already weakened its structure. This allows coolant to leak, making it unavailable for heat transfer.
The radiator can also be damaged from a front-end collision. Even if the collision leaves the component intact, it can still cause leaks Car Dealership Regulation and fissures in the hoses. Here too, coolant will escape, which can cause the temperature around your engine to climb dangerously high.
When To Repair Or Replace The Component
If leaks develop in your radiator, they can often be repaired at low cost. The quickest – and least expensive – solution is to purchase sealer from an auto supply store. Simply pour it into the coolant reservoir and check to see whether it resolves the leak. If not, your mechanic may need to apply a patch.
If the problem is related to corrosion, there’s a high likelihood you’ll need to have the component replaced. Corrosion damage is seldom fixable. Unless you have experience working on your vehicle, replacing the radiator is a task best left to a trained mechanic. Even though it’s possible to replace it yourself without prior experience, the job requires a methodical approach and close examination of the hoses and belts.
Without your radiator, your engine would quickly overheat and die. For this reason, it’s important to make sure the component remains in good condition. Structural damage is difficult to avoid since you have very little control over elements that cause it. But you can prevent corrosion from eating through the aluminum. Replace the coolant periodically and have issues related to your charging system inspected as soon as you notice them.

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