United Garage Services

Warning signs your radiator needs attention

by Approved Garages | 21 Nov 2019

The radiator in your vehicle is crucial to keeping the engine temperature at safe levels so it’s important to know the warning signs when it starts to fail.

There are a few clear indicators to look out for that can point to a necessary radiator repair/replacement, do you know what they are?

Protect your radiator in winter

The radiator is an integral part of the vehicular cooling system that discharges heat from the coolant circulating throughout the engine out into the air, resulting in a cooling process some refer to as thermal transfer.

Despite its importance, this part of the car is often overlooked in winter. During the colder seasons, coolant in the radiator is at risk of freezing and expanding. This can cause additional stress on the radiator, potentially cracking or rupturing it. The ruptures or cracks lead to leaks that cause further damage to the car's transmission. Frozen components can also lead to blockages and build up throughout the system.

Radiator damage is a problem that can cause a cascading ripple effect throughout your car, leading it to break down completely if gone unchecked. To avoid this it’s crucial you keep your radiator in top condition all year round, sometimes enlisting the assistance of a qualified mechanic if need be.

Symptoms of radiator failure

The most common symptoms of radiator failure relate to coolant leaks but there are other things you need to look out for, even in winter:

  • Frequent engine overheating – the winter air won’t keep an engine cool
  • Puddle underneath the engine – the classic – you’ve got a leak
  • Relentless squealing noise from under the bonnet - your water pump might have frozen
  • Thick sludge-like coolant, or watery coolant – internal rust and corrosion are afoot

To repair or to replace…

So you’ve detected a problem, what’s next - repair or full blown replacement? Well that depends on what warning signs you've noticed.

If your radiator is leaking

Leaks are the most common problem with radiators and occur for many reasons. A radiator tube could get clogged and the pressure from inside may build and cause valves to leak. The winter weather could freeze your radiator and cause it to crack or rupture.

Your radiator will need to be flushed to determine whether your leak can be patched up or if it is too big to fix and you need a replacement.

If your radiator is clogged

There are two primary kinds of blockage that can affect your radiator:

  1. Blockages affecting the radiator’s ‘face’
  2. Blockages affecting the actual radiator tubes

Dirt and debris can cake onto the face of the radiator over time, restricting the airflow. You can actually fix this yourself by spraying compressed air from the backside to clear out the filth.

Clogged tubes are another story. They’re internal and so much harder to reach. You’ll need a professional clean to ensure all of the blockages are removed correctly, without causing further damage to your radiator.

If your radiator is rusting or corroded

Rust is most likely to affect the exterior of your radiator. This rust is nothing to worry about and won’t require immediate attention.

However, if this leads to interior rusting or even corrosion, it becomes a major problem that warrants the replacement of your entire radiator. If you’ve noticed floating bits of debris in your coolant, or that the coolant has become sludge-like in consistency, it’s a sign that the interior of your radiator is rusted/corroded – and you’ll need a replacement.

Next Step? An Approved Garage

Winter is harsh on every part of your vehicle, including the radiator. Make sure you keep an eye on it and act quickly if you notice any of the warning signs we’ve mentioned above. Whether you need a repair or a replacement, its important to make sure you get it done at a garage you can trust – search our database now to find someone near you.