Category Archives: Articles about Radiator Repair

Articles related to automotive radiators and radiator repair.

Radiator Stop Leak For A Heater Core Leak

Heater Core Leaking?

Using radiator stop leak for a heater core leak is usually a simple solution. Depending on the situation it may be your only option but you must be aware that you may be giving yourself a bigger problem then you are attempting to solve. Most heater core leaks are small and will not cause an immediate significant drop in coolant level unless a connection tears loose or a tank blows off because of excess pressure. While these situations are uncommon, they do happen. You normal small leak should respond well to a little stop leak while a much bigger leak probably will not.

Do you smell coolant?

A leak within a cooling system is usually noticed by a rise in the temperature gauge, your engine hot light coming on or the smell of antifreeze. it is a very distinct smell and once you have experienced it you should recognize the cooling system odor. If you are on the road and smell antifreeze it is best to find the nearest exit and do a visual check under the hood and checking under the vehicle for leaks. You may need a radiator repair, or maybe a hose has started leaking.

If your heater is leaking you will probably not see any leaks under the engine but might find them inside your vehicle under the glove compartment. Feel the carpet on the passenger side under the glove box. If it is wet you have a heater core leak.

You may also find that your windshield  will fog up which means you are getting moisture out of your vents from the heater core. Radiator Repair

If your heater is leaking you can add stop leak and it will probably stop the leak. It will also probably stop your heater from providing the proper amount of heat to your vehicle.

Your heater core is actually a little radiator that dissipates heat generated from your engine into your vehicle. It is really small like the size of a hardcover book and about a tablespoon of dirt will plug it up to the point that you will not get any circulation and thus no heat. So if radiator stop leak works for a radiator repair it should also work for a heater core repair.

So in an emergency the stop leak may fix your cooling system problem and but may also restrict the proper functioning of your heater core. Some car heater cores cost a lot to replace as the heater is under the dashboard and very difficult to remove and replace. Your whole dashboard may have to be removed and in some cases it can cost between $500 to a $1,000 to remove a heater core and most of that cost is for labor only, the part will be extra. This is also a good time not to bring your own part to the dealer to install. If your heater starts to leak again you will want a warranty on both the parts and labor. If you provide your own part and it starts to leak the dealer will have to charge you the labor all over again.

If your car is old and you are watching your expenses you may want to throw some stop leak in and take your chances. Your may also help plug up your radiator or other parts by doing this but it is all up to you. Pay them now or pay them later.

Disconnecting your heater core

Another option you may have instead of using radiator stop leak is disconnection your heater core. If you look under the hood you will see two hoses connection the heater core to the engine. You can splice these two hoses together to bye-pass the heater completely and stop the coolant from running through your heater. You will need to fix your heater core before cold weather arrives but you will be stopping your heater core from leaking, for now. Please note that many heater cores have two different size hoses and if yours does you would need to either block them both of them off separately or buy a fitting that connects two different size hoses. Check your auto part store, some offer these fittings.


If I had a cheaper car and had a small leak and funds were an issue, a little stop leak would be my answer. Stop leak works but don’t pour in four bottles.  Start slowly, half a bottle and use no more than you need.

Don’t buy the most expensive stop leak.  I know you get what you pay for but this is stop leak. If the cheap stuff doesn’t work the expensive stuff probably won’t either. I just had a water pump leak on my vehicle and went to AutoZone for some stop leak as I was on the road. The $5 stop leak worked fine and I was able to get home and replace my water pump. I did not buy the $25 bottle of stop leak and that was a good choice in my case.

Finding a Radiator Repair Shop in your Area

Finding a Real Radiator Repair shop

If you’re looking for a radiator repair shop you’re in luck. We have just the right suggestion to help you find a real radiator repair facility near you. There is a lot of confusion out there about radiator repair and when you try to find a repair shop most of what you will find is auto repair shops that don’t offer radiator repair at all. So what should you do? You have three options.

Radiator repair option #1   radiator repair shop

The first place to check is your local yellow pages. The key here is looking in more than just city or area. Make sure you check neighboring areas also. You should look under different listing and not just for radiator repair. Check under auto service or truck service, and if no luck there check under the welding listings. If you find listings saying that the repair facility offers  automotive radiator service you will then need to call and ask what kind of radiator service they offer. Do they have a test tank and do they solder and actually repair a leaking radiator? Can they weld a radiator?  Do they just add stop leak? Do they offer aluminum radiator repair and do they epoxy or repair a plastic radiator tank? Most auto repair shops that offer radiator service actually just send your radiator off to an actual radiator repair shop or just get you in the door and try to sell you a new radiator.  Most auto repair shops just service your cooling system, Providing a cooling system flush and changing antifreeze. Most of the time if your cooling system or radiator is leaking an auto repair shop will check your radiator hoses for leaks and check to see if you have a leaking water pump. If those items are ok and your radiator is leaking they will just offer you a brand new replacement radiator. They will charge you for the labor and any parts they sell you. If you have no luck finding an actual radiator repair shop in the yellow pages go to option #2.

Option #2 — LogUp to NARSA To Find a Local Radiator Repair Shop

If you’re looking for radiator repair NARSA is the place to go. NARSA is a global trade association dedicated to its members who repair, maintain, and design, heat exchangers such as radiators, condensers, oil coolers and charge air coolers. Since 1954 this organization has been supporting radiator repair shops and the industry throughout the United States and globally. NARSA stands for the National Automotive Radiator Service Association and today goes by The International Heat Transfer Association. Go online to and you will find a wealth of information that will help you with your cooling system problems. NARSA lists radiator shops and heavy-duty industrial radiator repair shops and truck radiator repair shops. If one of these repair shops is close to you then that is your best bet for getting a radiator leak repair. Radiator shops are harder to find because a lot of shops have closed down because of the availability of  new replacement radiators and EPA regulations. The problem with not having a repair option is that in many cases the new radiator can be very costly and a repair could save you a lot of money. If you have an older car or truck it may not be the best choice to spend hundreds of dollars on a new replacement radiator when a simple radiator repair will fix the leak. In may cases, if you have a small pinhole radiator leak, and an older vehicle, you can just use a little radiator stop leak hope that solves the problem. Stop leak can also be a good solution for a small heater core leak.


Check on-line within local communities that may not be in your local yellow pages. A real radiator repair shop that is not listed with NARSA might be right down the road. Not every radiator shop is a member of NARSA. You might get lucky and find a radiator shop in the next town or close enough to make it worth your while. Just don’t drive a long way with a leaking radiator. You don’t want to overheat your engine.

Remember, most auto repair shops do not offer radiator repair, just radiator service like  a cooling system flush or a new replacement radiator. Radiator repair shops are still out there but they are harder to find in the smaller cities. Check with NARSA and get the number of the local radiator repair shop near you. On the last note, always check prices, warranties and watch your gauges after any automotive service work is performed.

In a future article we will be going over the steps to purchasing a new replacement radiator. We will highlight some of the bigger suppliers out there and help you make the right choice when it comes to buying your replacement radiator.  That is only if you can not find a real radiator repair shop in your area.

Automotive Cooling System and How it Works

Understanding Your Automotive Cooling System

It’s no surprise that your engine runs at a pretty high-temperature.  Most of your gasoline’s energy turns into heat and the longer and harder an engine runs, the hotter it gets. Without a correctly operating automotive cooling system, an engine would overheat, seize, and completely stop working, requiring a total replacement. There are many different components that work together to help keep your engine cool.

Your Coolant

First, let’s look at the coolant running through your car’s radiator. Coolant is a special mix of water and antifreeze. This liquid provides a significantly lower freezing point than water alone. It also  protects the engine with special additives which perform a number of functions like preventing corrosion and providing lubricant for moving parts. Coolant also operates better than plain water in extremely higher temperatures. Since the coolant holds heat fairly well, the heat is drawn away from the engine, making it cooler. The grill on the front of your car allows outside air to pass through to the radiator cooling the heated coolant from the engine thus providing a , a natural way to keep the temperature down.

Your Engine Thermostat

Your engine’s thermostat reads the temperature of the coolant and opens and shuts accordingly, keeping your vehicle running within a tight range of temperatures for maximum efficiency. It remains closed while the engine is cold. As the engine warms up, the thermostat begins to open, letting the coolant start to flow. The pressure cap works similarly by opening up by a spring-loaded valve when the temperature, pressure, and boiling point reach a certain point. This keeps air from becoming trapped inside the system, allowing your radiator to maximize the use of coolant.

The Fan and the Water Pump

The fan is a key part of your automotive cooling system and it keeps the air moving through the radiator when your car is not moving. The fan pulls the air through the radiator cooling the internal coolant. That coolant is moved through your automotive cooling system by the water pump which takes care of moving your heated coolant throughout the cooling system.

These two engine parts ensure there is constant coolant flow and air flow within your automotive cooling system, therefore keeping everything below critical temperatures.

The Radiator

Your radiator is what dissipates the heat out of your automotive cooling system. As heated coolant from the engine passes through the radiator, with the help of the water pump, the radiator allows that heat to be picked up by the air passing through the radiator core. The fan which is moving this air then cools the heated fluid allowing the cooler coolant to return to the engine. This completes the cycle of heating and then cooling your system.

automotive cooling system

Keeping your Automotive Cooling System Maintained

Always watch for signs your car is not cooling properly. Puddles of coolant under your car, a high temperature reading on your dashboard, the smell of antifreeze or the sounds of hissing from your engine are a few signs that your cooling system needs to be checked. By regularly checking your automotive cooling system for leaks or any potential problems, you can help ensure your car has a better chance at arriving at your destination worry free.

Radiator Flush and Cleaning

A Cooling System Flush

The best way to avoid a radiator repair is a cooling system flush. Flushing out a cooling system will remove old and worn-out antifreeze and helps to remove dirt and sludge. A cooling system flush and changing your antifreeze is the simplest way to help keep your radiator clean and prevent corrosion. Every vehicle needs regular oil changes, and your engine also needs a regular cooling system flush, Coolant levels should be regularly monitored and changed or top off as needed. The coolant in your radiator helps keep your engine from freezing at low temperatures, and not overheating at high temperatures. Antifreeze also comes packed full of additives which help to maintain your cooling system.

Antifreeze Additives

The antifreeze additives your vehicle uses will depend on what types of metal your cooling system has, what country the vehicle was manufactured in, the vehicles age, and which antifreeze you are using. The additives needed in your antifreeze will depend on  what type of radiator you have, an aluminum radiator, or a copper and brass radiator.

Your cooling system may use an ethylene glycol-based antifreeze, which as it ages, can become oxidized and turn into formic, oxalic, acetic, glycolic or glyoxalic acid. Additives are used to help protect your vehicle against these corrosive acids from forming in your cooling system. Your antifreeze may use nitrites, silicates, or borates to help prevent a corrosive environment on metal. Ethylene glycol antifreeze has a sweet taste and is very toxic. It will kill animals and yourself. Always handle with care and dispose of properly.

Other vehicles may use a propylene glycol base. This base is less toxic to yourself and pets but still needs to be handled properly. Propylene glycol oxidizes when exposed to air and heat and forms lactic acid which can be very corrosive. Additives, like phosphate, and bicarbonate can be used to control the corrosive nature of this antifreeze.

Your coolant may use an OAT antifreeze which stands for organic acid technology. OAT antifreeze claims to have over double the life expectancy and miles of other antifreeze.  OAT antifreeze has been very controversial in the past, and some had said that this antifreeze can attack gaskets and nylon and silicone rubber parts.

All of this can become very confusing to the consumer and your best bet is to change your antifreeze and flush your cooling system on a recommended schedule according to your owners manual. Also do not mix or change colors of your antifreeze and if you have to top off your cooling system, do so with the same type of antifreeze you already have in the system mixed with a  50/50 blend of antifreeze and distilled water.

Coolant maintenance

To prevent excess heat and the breakdown of your coolant make sure correct levels of coolant are  maintained. It is a good idea to check all fluid levels on your vehicle during each oil change, including your radiator coolant level. Checking your cooling system fluid level can be done by checking the reservoir tank. On the side of the reservoir tank is a fill hot line and a fill cold line.  If your vehicle is hot the coolant should be up to the hotline and if it is cold it should be lower, at the fill cold line. If your coolant levels are low, you should refill or “top off” the tank with a 50/50 mix of coolant and distilled water using the same type of antifreeze currently in your system. Never work on a hot vehicle and never open a hot cooling system. Cooling systems are under pressure and opening a pressurized cooling system can lead to extreme burns and eye damage.
When checking antifreeze levels, note the color of the coolant. The color of antifreeze should never change. If the color of your coolant has changed there is a good chance your antifreeze is old and needs to be replaced. A coolant color change may also indicate that you have corrosion or a transmission oil leak or an engine oil leak within the cooling system. In any case you will need to change the antifreeze and flush the cooling system to remove any contaminants. After any coolant change, make sure you check the complete cooling system to see if you need any repairs or a replacement radiator. Remember,  antifreeze discoloration could be caused by the expired coolant. It is important to completely flush out and replace old coolant based on the type of antifreeze you have and what your owner’s manual calls for, and never mix antifreeze types or colors.

Flushing your Cooling System

To properly flush and replace the coolant in your radiator, first make sure your engine is off and has completely cooled. Always check your top radiator hose before removing the radiator cap. It should be cool and easy to compress, indicating little to no pressure in your cooling system and. Completely drain your radiator into a drain pan, and be sure to properly dispose of the coolant, and keep all pets away, coolant should always be considered toxic,

Rinse the radiator and the complete cooling system with water until it runs clear. Rinsing is especially important if you had to add stop leak to your cooling system. You will then refill the cooling system with the appropriate 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze. This is a great time to check all hoses and belts replace any that show wear or have been on the vehicle for the recommended time frame. Hoses and bests are wear items and may look good but will need to be changed on a time schedule.

After refilling, it is important to ensure all air pockets or air bubbles are removed. Leave your radiator cap off and allow your car to run with the heater on for about 15 to 20 minutes. When you see the coolant circulating and the top hose is hot your thermostat is open. Double check your fluid levels and add any antifreeze needed to bring the fluid level up to the fill hotline. You can now replace the radiator cap tightly and you should be good to go.  It is also a good idea to check the coolant level after driving the vehicle after any system flush or part change. Always keep your eye on the temperature gauge and double-check everything after any work on your cooling system.

No matter what kind of antifreeze you have, for the antifreeze and additives to work properly, you will need to make sure that you:

  • Change your antifreeze on schedule.
  • Mix your antifreeze and distilled water using a 50/50 formula.
  • Do not mix your antifreeze with a non-compatible antifreeze.
  • Flush the cooling system to help remove any dirt and sludge.
  • Maintain the correct coolant levels of all fluids.

Preventative Maintenance to Avoid Radiator Failure

Preventive Maintenance

One of the best ways to save money on your car, or to avoid repairing and replacing your vehicle’s radiator is constant preventative maintenance. By routinely inspecting your radiator and cooling system and fixing or replacing any parts before they fail, you can save your radiator and engine from Damage.

Check your Belts and Hoses

Check belts and hoses for frays, cracks, and leakage, on a fixed schedule. By checking all belts and hoses during every oil change, you can catch problems before they get out of hand. It is also advised to go ahead and change all hoses and belts according to your owners manual which usually is around every three or five years, no matter the appearance. All rubber parts are considered wear items and need to be changed on a maintenance schedule. This can save you from unseen damage.

Keep your Cooling System Clean

Keep your engine and radiator clean, both inside and out is always a good idea. Consistently cleaning the engine and grill, and keeping them clean of dirt, bugs, and any excess buildup, not only will you be keeping up the appearance of your vehicle, but will help prevent heat build up and possibly prevent overheating.

Testing the Thermostat

Testing the thermostat can ensure that it is functioning properly. Your radiator’s thermostat’s main function is to make sure your engine is running at an appropriate temperature. Keep your eye on the gauge and watch that the temperature goes up properly and then holds at a certain temperature. You can pull a thermostat out of the vehicle and put it in a pan of water that is set at the same temperature  the thermostat is rated for, and it should open. As the water cools the thermostat should close. Most people just watch the gauge and make sure it stays in the normal range. You can also test your thermostat with an external thermometer but you should not be working on a hot running vehicle unless you are trained to do so,

Routinely checking your car’s coolant levels can help you be sure the appropriate amount of coolant is maintained. If the coolant is low, you should add the appropriate 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water to keep levels at a proper level. It is important to use distilled water and not to mix different types of antifreeze.

Ensure the fan is working properly and turns on when it is supposed to. Belt driven fans are always turning but some vehicles have a fan clutch that you will have to check. Electric fans turn on at certain temperatures and when the air conditioning is turned on, and may keep running after you turn your vehicle off. Make sure your fan is coming on and working correctly. You may have to check fuses and sensors. If there is a problem with your fan you will have different options, depending on what type of fan you have. Some of these fans can be very complicated and you might be better off having your vehicle serviced at the service center. Remember the fan must be working at all times to keep your engine from overheating.


By consistently maintaining your radiator and cooling system, you can be sure your car will run much longer and much safer. This will save you a lot of money in the long run, and can ensure you and your family’s safety by not malfunctioning at an inopportune time. Preventative maintenance to avoid a radiator failure is always a good idea and is a lot cheaper than a tow truck and a repair.

Removing Transmission Oil Lines from a Radiator

Removing Transmission Lines on Your Car Radiator

So you thought it would be easy removing the transmission oil lines to change your leaking radiator and save a few dollars! Well, most of the time it is a straight forward job installing a replacement radiator. But at times it can be your worse nightmare.

If you are not sure what type of transmission oil line fittings you have you should ask someone and look up your vehicle online. You need to ask specifically about your vehicle. Your oil lines may be easy to remove but many or not and if yours is one of the hard ones it is no joke. Some of the hardest radiator jobs we did were because of transmission oil lines.

I would like to share some comments from some who have attempted to replace their own radiator. Most DIY people think that transmission lines are simple little lines that should take you about a minute to remove. Most of the time they are, but then there is the following.

Some Comments Regarding Removing Transmission Oil Lines

  • I did not have enough clearance.
  • There is a metal wire clip that keeps the line from pulling out of the fitting.
  • Pull the line out with a little twisting and pulling.
  • I think you need a special tool to unlock the tube from the fitting.
  • I damaged the tube and fitting on the transmission line.
  • It’s a coupling fitting like a quick-disconnect.
  • it is a one-way fitting.
  • I had the wrong replacement radiator, and the trans lines won’t fit.
  • To release the fitting, you need a 3/8 inch line removal tool.
  • Use the 3/8″ tool designed for Chrysler, not Ford.
  • The tool goes to the right of that rusty old fitting.
  • Press the tool onto the fitting to release the fingers.
  • I sent the radiator to the shop.
  • I need a quick release coupler.
  • I have been tapping on it with a small hammer.
  • I cannot get it to budge, I just sprayed some PB blaster on it.
  • There is a spinner nut attached to the radiator itself.
  • To remove the lines, you might have to twist and turn it a little.
  • Pull the tool and hose at the same time.
  • Can I just cut the line?
  • Is this part of the radiator?
  • It seems to have a spring clip.
  • I needed a 3/8 spring clip tool and had broken the clip off, lost somewhere.
  • I think I will cut the trans line and deal with it later.
  • I need better access.
  • I now need to replace the O-rings with that fitting, and that was not fun at all.
  • It is no picnic to get the fitting to let go.
  • I need a bigger hammer.

Sounds like fun doesn’t it? On a final note, please know that most of the time it is not hard to replace a radiator. The hard ones are really hard and that is what you are reading about above. If you’re not sure, check first. Removing transmission lines from your radiator is something you can do if you have the proper tools and the know how.

How to Bleed Your Cooling System

Bleeding Air From Cooling System

Removing air pockets or air bubbles from an engine is how you bleed your cooling system.  This process can be referred to as bleeding air, purging or burping a cooling system. Cooling system air pockets develop after performing any cooling system service, like a coolant flush, changing a water pump or a radiator repair.  Anytime you lose or remove antifreeze from your vehicle you have the potential of an air pocket forming.  Trapped air, stuck in your engine will prevent you from refilling the cooling system fully and can lead to overheating, engine damage and a breakdown.

Preventing Cooling System Air Pockets

To prevent a cooling system air pocket, you will need to refill your cooling system properly. Using a mixture of 50/50 antifreeze and water, add coolant until the system seems full. Leaving your radiator cap off, you should start your vehicle and turn your heater on high. Let the vehicle idle for about 15 minutes watching the fluid level.

As your vehicle heats up and starts to circulate you will see the coolant rise and fall a little, and you may see air bubbles being released as the thermostat starts to open. You are now purging your cooling system of air as the water pump begins to pump coolant through your system pushing air out. As you are running the vehicle, add coolant as the air is released, and the coolant level drops. Keep doing this until the heater is blowing hot air, all the air bubbles have stopped, and the fluid level stays full and no longer drops.

Some mechanics recommends jacking up the front of the vehicle and making sure the radiator is higher than the engine or putting the front of the vehicle on an incline to help burp the cooling system. We never did this at our shop and I do not think that doing this is necessary most of the time.

When you are filling the cooling system and warming up the vehicle, you will need to open any bleeder valves your vehicle may have and allow the trapped air to be released. Make sure you know if your system has any bleeder valves and where they are located. You will need to open them until all air is released, and until you see fluid coming out. If your cooling system has a bleeder valve it will be important to use it.

Cooling System Air Pocket Symptoms

The best thing you can do to protect yourself from an air pocket is to watch the gauge and double-check your coolant level after any work on your cooling system. Most air pockets will show themselves quickly, and it is key that you check your fluid right after any cooling system service. If you lose heat after any cooling system repair, you probably have an air pocket. Check your coolant level and top off your cooling system.

At our shop, we would always run a vehicle after any cooling system work and “burp” the cooling system of air. We would allow the thermostat to open and circulate the fluid throughout the system making sure the heater was working properly. We would then check and double-check all fluid levels, open any bleeder valves and make sure everything was topped off.

Remember, vehicles will not purge themselves and must be “burped”. To burp a cooling system the thermostat must be open, and the system must be hot and fluid pumping through it. Your heater must be on hot and venting hot air. All bleeder valves must be opened to release air from any high point in the cooling system and then shut securely. Finally, after any cooling system repair, right after driving the vehicle for the first time,  take a minute to check your vehicle and all fluid levels. If you are not comfortable with any of these procedures let your mechanic do this for you. Remember, always check your coolant level after any repair and make sure you bleed your cooling system properly, or you will overheat.

Tools Needed to Test and Repair a Radiator

mechanic on creeper

Many ambitious car owners have decided to forego paying labor to an auto mechanic, and take on radiator repairs themselves. This is absolutely a doable task, and can be done with minimal tools and a little bit of knowledge.

As with any auto repair, being prepared with the right tools goes a long way. What tools do you need to test and repair your radiator?

  • A variety of common mechanics tools are things most households already have, and may not need to be purchased. A flashlight or lamp will help you see inside your engine compartment easier, especially if there is a lack of natural light. Screwdrivers, wrenches, and pliers will help you remove parts if needed.
  • Safety gear is important, because of the possibility of  boiling hot coolant and other dangers. Gloves can help protect your hands from burns and safety goggles can protect your eyes from boiling water, or parts that may pop off as you are working with them. Learn more about radiator repair safety.
  • A diagram of your engine and radiator and how it connects to various hoses and mounting brackets can help you ensure everything is put back in its correct place, especially if parts need to be removed for repairs or replacements. Use your iPhone to take pictures if that helps, and make sure all fittings removed are kept in one spot.
  • A drain pan is necessary, as a radiator’s main component is liquid and it is toxic, so keep all pets away from it. Drain the coolant from your radiator completely or at least to below the area of the leak. It is especially important, that during any repair, there is no liquid touching the inside of the hole you are repairing.
  • A pressure tester is nice to have so you can test your repair and to be sure the radiator is no longer leaking. A radiator pressure tester can be purchased as a kit that fit most makes and models of vehicles. Testers can be expensive and if you skip testing the repair make sure you key an eye on the repair and your gauge.
  • Any replacement parts will need to be compatible with your vehicle. Replacing or repairing with inappropriate parts can seriously damage your engine or causing problems. Make sure you get the right part for your vehicle and having the VIN number is a good idea when going to the part store.

By arming yourself with the correct tools and following directions, you should be able to safely perform a proper radiator repair.

Safety Tips for Working on Car and Truck Radiators

picture of wrench

Repairing your vehicle’s damaged or broken radiator on your own can be a great way to save the labor costs that a mechanic would charge. More important than saving costs, however, is your safety. Let’s explore some safety tips for working on car and truck radiators.

First and foremost, it is essential to know your limits. If you’ve never worked on cars a day in your life, and don’t know anything about the mechanics of vehicles, it may be a better idea in the long run to give the work to a licensed mechanic. This also applies to your physical limit as attempting to lift a large car part with a weak back can cause serious physical harm. A radiator repair can be very easy on some vehicles and very difficult on others. Older vehicles have less obstructions and less electrical cooling system parts and should be easier to work on.
Before starting a radiator repair turn off your vehicle and allow the car to cool down at least an hour before touching anything. Burns from a still-hot radiator or engine are among one of the most common radiator repair injuries. This is especially true when opening the radiator cap, as pressure and boiling hot liquid can cause serious injuries.

  • Never work on a hot radiator! They are pressurized and get up to 190 degrees and much more if overheating.
  • Fire hazards may seem moot when working with liquids, but is a very real danger that should be accounted for. Keep all open flames away from your workspace, including cigarettes. Keep a fire extinguisher handy, in case a fire does begin. Electrical wires can cause a fire, keep all flames and sparks away from your battery and a gas can ignite if there is a gas leak around the engine.
  • Ensure your car is properly lifted and supported with jack stands. Don’t trust one method to keep your car off the ground, especially before getting under it to work.
  • If repairs or replacements are being made, be sure to drain all coolant before beginning and always wear eye protection.
  • Never work alone, or without someone knowing you are working on your car. Having a friend or family member there to help is always a good idea.
  • Finally, follow instructions. Trying to take shortcuts during repair or replacement may save time, but can be very harmful. If your radiator fails due to a shortcut what did you really save. Do the radiator repair properly or take it somewhere to get it done.

Most of all, remember your safety comes first. Follow all guidelines as stated in your owners manual and any instructions that come with a repair kit if you are using one.

5 Most Common Causes of Cooling System Failure

cooling system failureCooling System Failure

There are a lot of different reasons for vehicle cooling system failure. Let’s look at some of the most common issues to can cause you to experience a breakdown. We will be going over a few of the main issues and will go over others in another post soon.

Low Coolant Level

Your coolant is key to keeping your engine running at the proper temperature. It is important to regularly check fluid levels to ensuring you have the necessary amount of coolant in your vehicle. If your coolant levels drop due to a leak, your engine will overheat.

Thermostat Malfunction

The thermostat helps your engine know when it needs to cool down, and if it is not working properly, your engine will continue to get hotter and hotter until it gets seriously damaged. The thermostat can be easily removed and tested for accuracy.

Radiator Cooling Fan

A malfunctioning fan can quickly cause an overheating situation.  With the vehicle in park and running open the hood and turn on the air conditioning. Your fan should be running and if it is not you may have a number of things that can cause the fan to stop working. The radiator’s fan needs to pull air through the radiator and dissipate the heat from the coolant. If not working you will need to have it repaired as soon as possible.

Cooling System Leak or Radiator Leak

A leak in the cooling system can be one of the easier ailments to diagnose, but may be harder to locate. If there is liquid leaking out of your system, there may be a few different places to look. Check hoses for pin holes or cracks first, as they are usually the first to go. If you can not find it within the hoses, check the radiator itself for cracks, corrosion or pin hole leaks.

Cooling System Obstructions

Obstructions within your system can be hard to diagnose because some are internal. While obstructions to the outside can be power washed off, internal blockage can be difficult to locate and fix. Trapped air, clogs and buildup can all block coolant and cause inefficient flow and overheating. Maybe you had to add stop leak and that can cause heater core blockage or plug up an already dirty radiator. If you have an internal problem you should start checking things simple at first and work your way down the list.

Cooling System Failure Wrap up

Though there are many reasons your cooling system may not be working properly, it’s best to start with the most common and simple issues first, to help identify exactly what is causing the issue, If you are lucky you can repair or replace the correct part the first time.