Radiator Repair? Five Signs To Be Aware Of

Did you know Atlantic Tire performs radiator repair and maintenance for our customers? Your radiator may be in need of either maintenance or repair if you experience any of these conditions:

  • Visible leaking fluid – the coolant will be sticky and typically a bright green, orange or pink in color on your driveway.
  • Dropping coolant level, rising temperature gauge – a quick drop is a good indicator your radiator is leaking. As the radiator rises and falls with the engine temperature, small changes or drops in the reservoir are not unusual, however a drastic drop is a sign of leakage.
  • Examine parts & hoses – Rust and discoloration on your radiator and the surrounding engine components is a sure sign your radiator is leaking.
  • Lack of preventative maintenance – Check your car manual and make sure you are getting regular coolant flushes to prevent a leak. When coolant sours, it becomes acidic and may become more conductive. This will eat the aluminum of the radiator away and cause a leak.

Below is a checklist for radiator care & maintenance.

  1. Temperature Gauge Reads Hot

Danger: Your radiator is low on fluid or the thermostat has a problem. Try to pull over to a safe location and turn off the engine and air conditioner to put less stress on the engine. If you are in traffic, put your car into neutral or park and rev the engine gently. This moves some coolant through the engine to help cool it. Try not to use the brakes, as applying the brakes adds friction and more heat. You might get a “maintenance needed” warning light, but if not it could be your coolant level is too low or your cooling fan or radiator switch is bad. Do not add coolant or water to the radiator when hot, as doing so will cause a crack in the engine thereby causing a more expensive problem! When the radiator is cool to the touch, use a thick rag to protect your hand. Open it away from you and never lean over to look into the radiator.

  1. Overheating

This is typically characterized by billowing steam under your hood. This can lead to fire as well. If you see flames, call 911 and make sure you are at a safe distance from the vehicle. This is highly urgent as left un-attended, it could blow up your engine! DO NOT open the hood until the temperature cools down and is cool to the touch. Never open the radiator cap while it is still hot as the release of the pressure could lead to serious steam and liquid burns.

  1. Radiator Discoloration or Rust

This is an indicator there is a leak in your radiator or connecting hose leading to the coolant system. The fluid will squirt out and land on hot engine parts causing a bubble of discoloration that leads to rust.

  1. Low Coolant Levels

Your levels may be too low. If you can, keep coolant in the car to have on hand. You can also check your car manual for more information in regards to your radiator coolant and keep it regularly full if you can.

  1. Coolant Leak

If there is a puddle of bright green, yellow or pink liquid under your car this is a fluid leak. The coolant prevents your car from getting too hot in the summer and too cold (and freezing) in the winter.

We found a great article from the Car Guys that explains in easy to understand terms the functions of the radiator, the importance of coolant flow and how it works with and affects the engine. Using analogies of our own body, this article gives a great overview to how the radiator operates in our cars. For professional radiator repair or maintenance contact any of our three (3) locations in: Raleigh, Durham or Cary to set up an appointment.