Tips & Advice
What are the signs that a radiator may need to be repaired or replaced?
There are several sign that your radiator needs repair or replacement. First and most obvious, is steam emitting from your radiator from overheating. A leak in the radiator may cause an unusual smell that is noticeable while driving as leaking radiator fluid lands on hot exhaust manifolds and steams. Puddles under a parked car are another sign. Your heater not working is often a good sign because, and most people do not know this, heat from the heater is drawn from the radiator. If the fluid is low or empty, the heater will not work. Keep an eye on your temperature gauge if you have one. Know what your normal operating temperature is. Steam, chemical smells, heater malfunction and puddles are strong indicators.
Does a car radiator need to be removed to be repaired?
A radiator does not always need to be removed to be repaired. For instance, small pinholes in the radiator can often be effectively repaired by pouring an over-the-counter sealant into the radiator. As the sealant circulates, it finds the hole and plugs the leak. This is a very common fix. Hoses and clamps do not require radiator removal. Larger fixes and radiator replacement are a different situation and, obviously, will require removal.
How long will a repaired radiator last?
Depending on the severity of the damage, the availability of parts, and the competency of the mechanic, radiator repair is easily done in a day. If parts need to be ordered, that can delay the process. A radiator repair should not take more than two days.
Are car radiators repairable?
Depending on the severity of the damage, most radiators are repairable. Small holes, broken hoses and clamps, cores, and thermostats, etc., are all easily repairable or replaceable by a competent mechanic. Severe corrosion is not fixable, so stay on top of changing the fluid and consult your owner’s manual or service technician for guidance. A collision-damaged or severely blown radiator is probably not fixable and will likely need replacement.
What are the different types of radiators?
There are three basic types of radiators; brass and copper, plastic, and aluminum. Brass and copper radiators are the sturdiest and most efficient at cooling, but are heavier and more expensive than their counterparts. Aluminum radiators are much cheaper to produce and weigh up to 1/3 of the standard brass and copper radiators. Plastic radiators are cost efficient from a manufacturing standpoint, excel at efficient heat removal and are very light weight which increased fuel efficiency. All three are good options.
How does a radiator work?
How radiator works is very simple. Water (engine coolant) circulates through the engine block to cool it. When the water reaches a certain temperature, a thermostat opens a valve and the water in the engine block moves into the radiator where it is cooled, and the cooled water in the radiator transfers to the block to cool the engine block. The cycle repeats over and over.
How much does it cost to repair a radiator?
Depending on the issue, some radiator repairs can be inexpensive, especially if you can do them yourself. For some leaks, you can buy over-the-counter sealants and add them yourself. Hose replacement, for example, can usually be done for under $75 (the cost of the parts) if you can do it yourself. Higher repair cost factors include the make and model car and the shop you take it to. Newer cars with complicated engine compartments and dealership service centers drive prices up.
What types of radiator damage can be repaired?
Depending on the severity of the damage, most radiator problems are fixable. Small leaks or holes in the radiator can be easily plugged while larger ones require more attention. Broken hoses, clamps and faulty thermostats are easily fixed and replaced and are the materials are not costly (labor is a separate issue). Internal corrosion is the most destructive force to a radiator and can be fixable is caught early enough. Preventative maintenance such inspection and frequent fluid replacement greatly reduces this risk.
How long does it take to repair a radiator?
The length of time it takes to repair a radiator depends on the damage and the skill of the mechanic. With the right tools and skill, a radiator can be removed and replaced in just a couple of hours. However, complete replacement is not always the best solution, especially if money is an issue. For minor holes, a simple plug can take less time if the radiator does not need to be removed. Major holes may require removal to fix it. Most shops can repair it in one day, unless ordering parts is necessary. That can always delay the process.
A radiator is the primary cooling device for most internal combustion engines in cars, trucks, and some light aircraft. Air is drawn by a fan through the radiator. That air passes over the fluid in the radiator through a bank of thin tubes and cools it. The cooled fluid is returned back into the engine block. Most systems are controlled by a basic thermostat and valve working in concert. When the engine coolant reaches the designated temperature, it triggers a valve to open, sending the cooler fluid from the radiator into the block, and the hotter fluid from the block into the radiator.