Your radiator is a key part of your cooling system that helps keep your car from overheating. If your radiator isn’t working, your cooling system will be unable to regulate internal temperatures. This can lead to an overheated engine, stalling, and costly repairs, not to mention it puts you in harm’s way in the process. That’s why it’s important to be able to recognize the signs of radiator issues.  

The Part Your Radiator Plays in Your Cooling System

Your car’s cooling system is made up of several components: the radiator, fan, thermostat, water pump, hoses, pressure cap, and overflow tank. These parts work together to gauge the temperature of coolant that passes through the engine. If the thermostat deems the coolant to be too hot, a valve opens that allows the coolant to pass over the radiator. Here, fluid is cooled before re-entering the engine. 

Your cooling system benefits your vehicle by optimizing fuel economy and performance. There is an optimum temperature for fuel to burn at that allows for the purest burn. When fuel is burned at this constant, optimum heat, fuel economy and overall engine performance at their peak. Without this sort of regulation, engine temperature would continue to rise as it began working harder and harder.

 Left unchecked, this excess heat can cause one or several components of your engine to fail. Not only is this bad for your engine, it can put you and other drivers at risk. If you ever sense trouble with your engine, bring it to a mechanic immediately. 

4 Signs of Radiator Issues

1. An Overheating Engine

It comes as no surprise that since your radiator is so integral to your engine’s cooling system, an overheating engine may be the first sign that you have radiator trouble. Keep in mind that engine overheating can be caused by more than just the radiator. A faulty thermostat, hose, or water pump could also be to blame. Regardless of whether you think it’s your radiator or something else, take your care ASAP when you notice overheating. 

Signs of an Overheating Engine

At this point you may be wondering how to tell your engine is overheating. Typically, a light will come on on your dashboard indicating an issue with your engine. You’ll also notice your temperature gauge brushing towards or fully in the red zone. Other signs of overheating include leaking coolant, ticking or thumping sounds, or steam coming from under your hood (we sincerely hope it doesn’t get to this point).

2. Discolored Coolant

Another one of the common signs of radiator issues is discolored coolant. Usually, coolant is a vibrant yellow, green, or pink color. A faulty radiator can lead to overheating and a buildup of deposits in the coolant, shifting the color to a muddier, oil-like color. 

3. Leaks

Speaking of leaks, coolant leaks themselves are one of the signs of radiator issues. Radiators are made of both plastic and metal parts. When certain components overheat or become old and brittle, cracks can appear, which lead to leaks. Coolant comes in a variety of colors, including yellow and red.

4. Malfunctioning Passenger Heater

Your cooling system does more than just keep your engine from overheating. It’s also important for other functions like cooling. If there’s a problem with your radiator, you may notice issues with your interior cooling.

If you suspect an issue with your radiator, come into Courtesy Auto and Tire of Tacoma. Located right by the Tacoma Mall, our technicians are standing by to help get you back on the road as soon as possible.

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