At present, there are nearly 280,000 registered vehicles in the USA according to the Federal Highway Administration. While owning a car has countless benefits, it also comes with a lot of responsibility. In order for your car to remain in tip-top shape it needs to be adequately maintained. Although most car owners know how to rotate the tires, regularly change the oil, and replenish the fluids, how to care for a radiator is not always common knowledge. Luckily, maintaining your radiator is not rocket science and there is a lot you can do to make sure it is always in good working condition.
Understand the Purpose of Your Radiator
A car’s engine generates an excessive amount of heat while in operation. The main’s purpose of a car’s radiator is to remove this extra heat from the car’s engine. It forms part of the cooling system of the engine. The cooling system also includes a fan, a liquid cooling agent, hoses to effectively distribute the cooling agent, and a thermostat that is responsible for checking the temperature of the engine. The radiator prevents the engine from overheating by pumping the cooling agent through it, carrying the heat away from the engine block in the process. Without a well-functioning radiator, a car’s engine can easily overheat, causing the metal to warp, expand, swell, and even crack.
Preventative Maintenance is a Must
There are a number of preventative measures you can take to ensure that your radiator cools your car engine effectively. This includes keeping the radiator fluid (cooling agent) always filled, ensuring that the radiator cap is always secured to maintain adequate pressure in the cooling agent compartment, and replacing the radiator hoses every three years or 36,000 miles, depending on what comes first. It is also important to keep your radiator clean. This should be done at least a few times a year to prevent any severe build-up from forming. If you are not confident to flush your radiator yourself, you can always request to have it done by professionals the next time you take your car for a service.
Get to Know the Warning Signs
Even if you make an effort to keep your radiator well-maintained it is essential to familiarize yourself with the most common warning signs of a faulty part. The first sign of a bad radiator is an engine that is overheating due to the inefficient distribution of the cooling agent. Other warning signs to look out for include a visible sludge build-up in the radiator, leaking cooling agent, fluid discoloration, and a non-functioning passenger heater. Depending on how badly damaged your radiator is, you may also have difficulty shifting gears. This occurs when the cooling agent contaminates the fluid due to crack and other damage to the radiator.
Taking care of your radiator is an important part of your overall car maintenance. Thankfully, as long as you understand the purpose of your radiator and what warning signs to look out for, it is fairly simple to ensure that your car remains in a safe driving condition.