Your car’s engine produces an enormous amount of heat as it runs, and would quickly break down if it didn’t have a way to dissipate this heat. That’s where your car’s radiator comes in, taking the heat away from the engine so that it doesn’t overheat and cause big problems.
Radiators work by circulating a mixture of water and liquid coolant around your engine through a system of pipes. This coolant is specifically designed to absorb heat and then be quickly carried away, back to the radiator itself. The air passing over the radiator as you are driving cools this fluid. Once it has reached an acceptable temperature, it is put back in circulation to begin the process again. This happens constantly as you drive.
Because of how vital this heat-exchange system is, your car can be severely damaged if your radiator is not fully-functioning. The most common way for a radiator to fail is through a coolant leak, usually from a crack in the coolant piping.
These are the signs you should be aware of:
Car Radiator Leak
Your car has a series of sensors designed to detect if there is too much heat within the engine, or if your radiator coolant levels are low.
Your first sign of a problem is usually a warning light on your dashboard telling you that you need to refill your coolant levels. This doesn’t inherently mean that your coolant is leaking from the radiator – like all liquids in your car, coolant needs to be topped up and replaced from time to time – but it does mean that you should pay close attention to your temperature.
If the coolant light comes on and your temperature gauge begins to climb, you should immediately pull over and turn off your engine before it does any damage.
If you’re lucky and you aren’t driving when you spring a car coolant leak, then it’s quite likely you’ll have a tell-tale puddle of liquid underneath your parked vehicle. Coolant is instantly recognisable as a brightly-coloured liquid, typically green, but it will vary with the model of your car and your manufacturer’s recommended coolant. It isn’t uncommon for coolant to be blue, yellow or even pink. These liquids will also have a very noticeable smell, ranging from sickly-sweet to rotting fish.
If you do see anything that you even suspect might be from your radiator leaking under your car, it’s important that you keep your family away from it, especially small children and pets, as coolant is considered toxic and will irritate your skin on contact.
When Should I Go to a Mechanic?
Unfortunately, radiator issues aren’t easy to diagnose and fix. This is due to the radiator being quite large and quite complex, stretching through the entirety of your engine. This makes it exceedingly difficult to find where a cracked pipe might be leaking, even for trained mechanics with the correct equipment. For this reason, we always advise that you let a professional mechanic look after a potentially broken radiator and handle the repairs.
If you’re worried that your car has a radiator problem, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team at Great Lakes Auto Centre. We have the expertise to help answer any of your questions, whether it’s about radiator replacement cost or something else with your vehicle. Give us a call on (02) 6555 6844, or fill out our online contact form.