Protecting Your Radiator Protecting Your Radiator

Protecting Your Radiator

If you find yourself watching your temperature climb higher toward the dreaded red zone while you are sitting in traffic on a summer day near Jonesville, you and your car may both be close to blowing a gasket!

Rising radiator temperature is a sure a sign something is wrong and that your radiator is likely malfunctioning. Allowing your engine cool and adding coolant (note: this is dangerous if you have not allowed adequate time for the engine to cool) is a temporary measure that can get you home or to a mechanic; however, the longer you run a car with a radiator or water pump requiring repair, the higher the risk of full radiator failure and a costly repair bill. To avoid catastrophic radiator failure, in this article we want to provide some steps for protecting it and your car's cooling system.

What Does a Radiator Do?

There are many moving parts in your vehicle's engine all integral to keeping your car running and operational. Those components burn fuel and create friction, generating a lot of heat. To mitigate temperatures and prevent significant damage, your cooling system is designed to divert heat away from the engine. The operational heart of your car's cooling system is its radiator, which stores coolant and water; releasing them when the thermostat senses that your engine is too hot. Similarly to your HVAC system at home, that heat is then transferred back to the radiator.

With assistance from fans and vents, the large surface area of the radiator is enough to cool the fluid. Once the coolant is cool enough again, it is recirculated through the engine.

Leaking hoses or holes in the radiator, warped components, build up of debris, and several other issues can cause your radiator to malfunction, leading to your engine overheating. Ultimately, an overheating engine can cause several other problems: 

  • Seized pistons.
  • Overworked thermostat.
  • Water pump damage.
  • Heater core breakage.
  • Hose damage.

Your radiator is key to keeping your running smoothly. When it fails, it can create a domino effect with other parts and components, costing you even more money and time with your vehicle in the shop. 

Here are five tips for keeping your radiator functioning properly:

5 Steps to Keep Your Radiator In Top Shape

  1. Check your coolant. When your engine is cool, check the overflow tank. If you need to add additional fluid, add a 50/50 mix of coolant and water. Always consult your cars owner's manual.
  2. Check and change antifreeze for winter! Overheating can occur in winter as well as summer. If coolant or water freezes in your radiator, frozen coolant cannot circulate properly, and the frozen water will expand, potentially crack your engine.
  3. Replace your coolant/antifreeze. How often depends on the make and model of your vehicle. Consult your manufacturers’ recommendations or bring your car to Jody's Automotive in Jonesville. We can help you with flushing the radiator, which prevents the accumulation of rust and debris in the cooling system.
  4. Check for leaks. Open the hood and see if you can identify any leaks. Leaks may result in rust forming on engine components. If you do see excess moisture in your engine, bring your car to us as soon as possible. We will help determine if it is a minor, fixable issue before it becomes something major.
  5. Make an appointment at Jody's Automotive. Preventative maintenance is the best thing you can do to ensure you are not left on the side of the road.

What Should You Do If Your Engine Overheats?

What should you do if you are in traffic or on the road near Jonesville with an overheating vehicle?

  • Before you find yourself in that situation, consider storing extra coolant and a gallon of water in your vehicle for emergencies.
  • Turn off the air conditioning and turn on the heat. It may be no fun at all, but blowing the heat in the cab diverts it from the engine
  • Pull over. As soon as it is safe, pull over onto the side of the road, turn the engine off, and wait for it to cool. Pop the hood from inside your car, but wait before you open it fully. It may take 20-30 minutes for the engine to cool enough to touch the hood safely.
  • Check your coolant reservoir. If low, add fluid. If it’s full, call for a tow and bring your car to us.
  • Check for leaks. If you notice drips/puddles under your vehicle, your coolant tank may have a leak. If there is evidence of a leak, you could add coolant to the radiator itself. Be careful. Use a rag to protect your hand when opening the cap even after the engine seems to have cooled. If you are uncomfortable with this, it may be better to call Jody's Automotive.

You should never add coolant or water to the radiator while it is still hot. In addition to threatening your own safety, rapid cooling can crack your engine block. If you must add fluid, let the radiator cool, crank your engine, shift into neutral (with the parking brake engaged) or park, and then add fluid slowly. 

It is vital to practice the utmost safety and patience with anything related to your engine and radiator. When dealing with an overheating engine and radiator issues, the best and safest practice is to for a tow and having the driver bring your vehicle to us.

Our experienced mechanics will give your cooling system a thorough inspection that will include checking for leaks, draining and flushing the system, and refilling it with fresh coolant at the right ratio. Take care of your radiator so it takes care of you. For radiator and other vehicle services, contact Jody's Automotive in Jonesville.