A car's engine has numerous parts moving constantly to generate power.
These moving parts create friction that results in high temperatures.
Though motor oil is pumped throughout the engine to provide lubrication, it is not adequate to surmount all the excessive heat.
Consequentially, several parts of the engine reach temperatures high enough to cause damage.
This is where a cooling system becomes necessary in a car.
The engine must be kept moderately cool to operate normally and to avoid seizures.
To prevent this from happening, water and coolant liquid is pumped through several components of the engine to absorb heat.
When the heated liquid exits the engine, it re-enters the radiator, where drawn through a number of internal folds and chambers, it is cooled.
Designed to transfer heat from the mixture of water and the coolant coming from the engine, the radiator is a type of heat exchanger.
The radiator is helped by a fan that blows coolers outside air to speed up the cooling process.
Most modern vehicles use radiators made of thin aluminum tubes.
Several tubes are arranged parallel and the superheated liquid flows from the inlet while the fins conduct the heat from the tube and transfer it to the air, blown by the fan through the radiator.
Cars operate on a wide range of temperatures, from below the freezing point to over 38 degrees Celsius (100 F).
Water is an effective absorbent of heat but it freezes at too high a temperature for it to be work well in car engines.
The fluid used in most cars nowadays is a blend of water and ethylene glycol, also known as anti freeze or engine coolant.
This coolant also prevents corrosion and rust on the metal components.
How Long Does a Car Radiator Last? Like most parts in an automobile, a radiator has a finite lifespan.
Some car radiators last a few years while others last decades.
Also, because of the location of a car's radiator, it is prone to damage even from minor accidents and fender benders.
Break or leakage of a radiator renders it inoperable almost right away.
Trying to fix cracks in the radiator may not prolong their life.
Even solvents as strong as epoxy succumb to the high pressures and temperatures.
Maintaining a Radiator Apart from the fact that it can completely ruin an engine, overheating reduces the mileage of a car.
For maximum output and better performance it is necessary to maintain the radiator regularly.
The following tips can help:
- Correct coolant levels: Ensuring that the coolant is always topped up will help the radiator run smoothly.
If air is trapped in the cooling system, bubbles will hinder the flow of the liquid.
Also make sure you top up with the same type of coolant.
- Check for leakage regularly: The coolant may leak at the hoses or the cap which would leave the radiator inoperable right away.
- Check for clogging: Depending on the severity of clogging, the radiator might have to be cleaned properly or even replaced.
Experts say, flushing may not be an effective solution to clear the clogs as it only removes the dirt and rust.
- Using the right radiator fluid: The variety of coolants found at an auto supply store may confuse the average person.
The right fluid for your car radiator depends on the climatic conditions in your region.
- The best radiator fluid: Glycol based fluids mixed with as much water as the coolant works for most climatic conditions.
In colder conditions however, a 70/30 ratio of coolant to water may be needed to prevent the engine from freezing off.
One or more of the following parts of the cooling system may have to be replaced.
- Thermostat: Severe heating problems can damage a good thermostat.
- Water Pumps: The wrong pump or even a minor wobble in the right one could cause the engine to overheat.
- Belts: A loose belt may prevent the pump from circulating the liquid fast enough and the fan from running fast for proper cooling.
- Fan: The fan is an important part of the cooling system.
Blowing cooler outside air through the radiator, if the fan does not operate appropriately temperatures may rise up to 50%.
Due to the large variety of different types of radiators available in the market, users should have an idea of what to look for.
Construction, tubing, airflow and cost are some of the things that affect the radiator.
Aluminum radiators are the most preferred ones due to their resistance to corrosion.
The toughness of aluminum also makes it a reliable material for use in car radiators.
Wider tubes ensure a larger surface area so that a larger volume of liquid can be carried, resulting in the liquid to be cooled faster.
It is also preferable for the tubes to be not as thick as this can reduce the efficiency of the radiator.
Electrical fans are more widely used due to their economical consumption of horsepower.
Cost is a major factor when discussing the replacement of a car radiator.
The radiator itself could range from $120 to $500 depending on the make and model of your car.
Having a radiator replaced by a professional may cost about $200-$300 depending on where you go.
Cheap radiators may also be available at junk yards and used auto parts stores.
Depending on the condition of the radiator it may cost up to half the price of a new one.
For replacing a car radiator, you require minimal tools but quite a bit of technical experience and there are several problems a professional can diagnose by instinct that an average person cannot.