Tips to Care for Your Car's Radiator

Team CARS24
Team CARS24

Updated on: 29th February, 2024 IST

Tips to Care for Your Car’s Radiator

It is really worth noting that overheating is among the most common reasons for engine failure. This is especially true in high-performance cars and diesel vehicles.

Now, in order to ensure sufficient cooling in the engine bay, the car radiator should be in top-notch condition. Hence, proper radiator service during regular intervals along with frequent inspections is vital.

By following a few steps, one can easily get rid of the expenses occurring from engine damage caused due to overheating. In this piece, we will tell you about the proper maintenance regime of a car radiator but before that, let’s try to understand the working of a radiator.

What Is a Radiator and What Are Its Functions?

Many people must have heard the word radiator in their everyday life. However, not many are actually aware of the importance of this component.

Simply speaking, the car radiator is an element that plays the most important role in the entire cooling system. The basic function of the radiator is to ensure that the engine is not overheating.

An internal combustion engine (ICE) generates power through the burning of fuel. The combustion, along with the movement of the parts, causes a lot of heat.

Now, it’s important that this heat goes away from the engine to avoid overheating and to ensure the motor’s performance is not compromised.

This is exactly where the radiator comes into play. It ensures that the heat is transmitted out of the engine. This component works in tandem with coolant, fan, thermostat and hoses that are responsible for circulating the coolant.

Basically, the liquid moves through the hoses from the car radiator to the engine to absorb the heat and return to the radiator. Once it is back in the radiator, the fine metal fins release the heat from the liquid to the outside air. Meanwhile, cool air flows into the radiator through the car’s grille.

In case the vehicle isn’t blowing, the fan blows air to reduce the temperature of the heated coolant. Once this coolant passes through the radiator, it is recirculated into the engine.

Basic Tips for Radiator Maintenance

1. Radiator Leakage

Among the biggest problems that car radiator systems encounter is leakage. Hence, regular radiator service ensures this issue doesn’t arise.

Actually, this leakage takes place when any of the hoses, gaskets or seals crack. Generally, these components develop small cracks over the years and get worn out. In case of irregular maintenance, these parts break down and, thereby leading to the leakage of coolant.

In case you spot any leakage in the radiator system, it could be a clear sign of a damaged component that requires immediate replacement. Failing to do so will lead to coolant level gradually decreasing, thereby causing the engine to overheat due to lack of cooling.

2. Rusty Coolant

Yet another common issue that car owners face with the radiator is rusty coolant. In fact, this rust not only affects the performance of the radiator but even hampers the working of the water pump. The rust clogs the ducts, which further leads to disruption of the coolant flow.

Therefore, it’s highly recommended to drain out the rusty coolant and replace it with a good quality one. While premium coolants cost a handsome sum, they actually perform much better than the standard ones. This, of course, ensures the long age of the car's engine.

Read More: Engine Maintenance Tips For A Good Car Care

3. Hose Issues

As we said, the coolant travels between the car radiator and the engine through hoses. So, they end up being one of the most important elements in the whole cooling system.

Basically, any car has two hoses – upper and lower. The former connects the upper part of the radiator to the engine while the latter is responsible for connecting the engine’s water pump to the radiator. These hoses are made up of rubber and synthetic material. With time, they tend to develop small cracks due to regular wear and tear.

However, if not properly taken care of, these cracks could lead to leakage of coolant which would subsequently result in insufficient cooling of the motor. Hence, it’s highly advisable to inspect the hoses during radiator service and replace them if required. Generally, these hoses should be replaced after every 50,000 km to ensure things stay in order.

4. Thermostat Malfunctioning

Another common problem with the car radiator system is the malfunctioning of the thermostat. In case you find the upper hose very hot while the lower hose is normal, this could be due to the thermostat malfunctioning.

Essentially, the thermostat regulates the coolant flow based on the temperature. So, if it develops some fault, there could be severe problems with the functioning of the engine. Also, prolonged overheating of the engine can cause serious financial damage while affecting the life of the vehicle tremendously.

So, if you feel that your car engine is getting unusually hot, it could be an issue with the thermostat. In such a case, you should get the car inspected and, if needed, the radiator service should be carried out immediately. The technician is likely to conduct a couple of tests to figure out the exact cause of heating. Usually, the below two tests are performed to ascertain the reason for engine overheating:

  1. Pressure Test: Through this test, one can figure out if there is a leakage in the cooling system of the car.
  2. Flow Test: This test determines if the cooling system of the car is choked.

5. Never Overload your Car

Every car is designed and developed to carry a certain weight. This is known as the payload capacity of the vehicle.

Basically, the payload is the maximum weight that a car can safely carry but it doesn’t include the weight of the car itself. So, while a vehicle could be used to carry more weight than its payload capacity, it would have a direct affect on the performance and, over long use, even the lifeshell of some of the components.

Carrying higher than recommended weight will put additional stress on the engine. The higher load on the engine will, in turn, have the cooling system work overtime. Needless to state, every vehicle’s cooling system is designed keeping in mind the payload capacity, and hence a malfunction might occur. Therefore, one should never overload the car.

6. Use The Right Quality Coolant

There are numerous coolants available in the market. However, each one of them has a different formula and characteristics. It's immensely important to select the correct coolant for your car and mixing two different ones should always be avoided. Remember, only the right coolant will ensure your car radiator works exactly how it is supposed to.

There are many types of engines and they are created from different materials. Some are cast iron motors while others are made of aluminium alloy. Also, some are turbocharged while others are naturally aspirated.

So, ‘one type fits all’ strategy with choosing the coolant doesn’t really work. The safest choice is the one that is recommended by your car’s manufacturer or one should always follow the owner’s manual.

Read More: How to Choose Best Engine Oil For Car?

7. Check The Water Levels

As explained, over time, various hoses, joints, and seals in the cooling system tend to develop cracks. This can lead to leakage of coolant, and, thereby, a drop in the coolant levels.

Also, any sort of malfunctioning in the car radiator could lead to a drop in the coolant levels. While this is something that can be easily spotted during radiator service, using a car with low coolant levels can have serious consequences. Hence, one should regularly check the coolant and water levels.


You must have seen cars being broken down mid-travel and parked on the side of the road due to overheating engines. Obviously, one won’t want to ever find himself/herself in such a traumatic situation. The easiest way to stay away from it is to ensure regular radiator service.

By now, we’re hoping that you would have understood the importance of the radiator system in the proper functioning of a car. Regular maintenance and routine checks can help you keep the radiator as well as the car’s engine running perfectly.


Q) What is the purpose of a radiator?

The engine of a car produces a lot of heat from the burning of fuel and movement of parts. The job of a radiator is to ensure it keeps the engine cool through the flow of coolant. Doing so is imperative for optimal performance.

Q) How to ensure that your radiator keeps running without facing issues?

Through regular radiator service and inspection, you can ensure the car radiator keeps running without any issues. One should keep an eye on the coolant levels at regular intervals while heading out to a service station as soon as something unusual is spotted. Also, one should use only the recommended grade of the coolant.

Q) When Should I Replace My Radiator?

A car’s radiator generally lasts around 10 years. So, it’s best to keep it checked once your car gets around 10 years old. Also, one needs to visit a service centre as soon as some issues sensed while opting for replacement on the advice of an expert technician.

Q) Why do radiators need to be replaced?

Like every other component, even a radiator undergoes wear and tear over the years. It can get damaged due to issues like corroded tubes, cracked tanks and faulty seals.

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