It is difficult to run a car with radiator problems, and sometimes it can even be impossible. While you might be able to live with a slow leak for a little while, it will get worse with time, and there are other issues that can sideline your vehicle completely. Luckily, the radiator and cooling system is also a relatively straightforward part of the vehicle to learn, so you can handle most issues yourself.
Leaks can come from a variety of locations, and tracking them down is a matter of systematically searching hoses and connection points until you find one. You can prevent many coolant system leaks by replacing hoses, gaskets, and other fittings every three to five years. If a leak does develop, replacing the seal, gasket, or hose line should be enough to stop it.
Overheating & Corrosions
Sometimes you lose coolant from damage to the car radiator itself, not a leak in the system. This often happens because of corrosion over time, and it can lead to overheating. An improper coolant mix can also cause overheating, as can an engine that runs hotter than it should and overwhelms the cooling system.
Checking for corrosion and damage to the car radiator is the first step to diagnosing overheating issues. Corrosion that has not compromised the radiator’s integrity can be addressed with low-impact corrosion cleaners, but if it is allowing air into the system or fluid out, then you need to consider replacing the whole radiator.
If you do not find damage to the radiator or leaks in the system, your answer is probably maintenance and not replacement auto parts. The last step is to drain and replace the coolant. Consider a performance blend if you are worried your engine will run hot, and remember that coolant breaks down over time. Replacing it on time can sidestep a lot of overheating problems down the road.
Installing a New Radiator
When there is no alternative, a new radiator will refresh your cooling system performance, and you can even upgrade to a performance model to keep up with the extra heat generated by modified engines. The exact installation procedure changes a lot from one vehicle to the next, but it always follows the same basic pattern:
- Drain the coolant system
- Disconnect the battery
- Remove hoses and connections
- Remove the radiator itself
- Install the new one and hook everything back up
- Refill the coolant
The differences that arise from one car to the next usually have to do with design choices that cause the radiator to be inaccessible without removing parts that are unrelated to the operation. Radiator shape and location also play a role, and that is why it is always a good idea to invest in the technician’s manual for your car when you start doing DIY projects.
Find the Parts for Your Next Project
You can find your new radiator along with the manuals and schematics you need from the same parts experts you trust for odd replacements like interior door handles. Start searching today to build the supply list for your next project.