Warning Signs of Radiator Trouble

truck overheatingYour vehicle’s radiator is the workhorse of the engine’s cooling system. It’s a fairly simple mechanism that should remain problem-free for years… as long as you take good care of it. There is quite a bit at stake should your radiator go bad. If your engine can’t get cool, the transmission and other components will overheat and fail, leaving you stranded.

There are a few obvious signs of a troubled radiator, such as leaking coolant, but other symptoms are tougher to detect. Below are a few things to look for that could be a precursor to radiator disaster.


The radiator’s primary purpose is to reduce the temperature of the engine coolant before it re-circulates, but overtime it can become less and less effective.  This will allow your engine to run at a higher temperature, which will lead to overheating if its not fixed. A thermostat in your engine reads the temperature of the coolant and sends a signal to the gauge on your dashboard– pay attention to this gauge. While you’re driving, if you see the temperature creep past normal, pull over and let the engine cool before it overheats. (Never touch the radiator cap while your engine is hot or running.) Make pit stops all the way home if you have to, and then do a thorough inspection. Make the necessary repairs before you drive it again.


The most glaring sign of radiator failure is a crack or leaking coolant. If you see a puddle of green stuff under your car, inspect the entire cooling system to find the source. If you have trouble, ask a Grease Monkey mechanic to do a pressure test. When you discover the leak, patch it or replace the faulty part– that goes for the radiator cap, too. radiator showing signs of rustRadiator cracks are typically caused by rust, which is essentially engine cancer. If you find rust, consider replacing the entire unit to avoid more trouble.


Rust can damage your cooling system in more ways than one. If pieces of rust break off inside your engine, it will combine with the coolant to make a disgusting sludge. That won’t work to cool anything. You can have your radiator flushed to remove it, but this is more of a bandaid than a real cure. Where there is sludge there is rust, so make sure to replace what’s corroded.

If your car overheats that means your radiator needs help.  Take this seriously and address the problem before the engine cylinder head cracks and you’re faced with a slew of new and worse problems.

Drop by Grease Monkey in Battle Ground today for help– no appointment necessary! You’ll get only what you need, guaranteed.