Here at Autoworks, we like to keep our Ithaca drivers on the road and a radiator issue will put your vehicle in Park faster than most issues! Every liquid-cooled engine on the road has a radiator; without it, the engine would overheat in no time, causing catastrophic engine failure. What you don't want to see is steam coming out from under your hood so proper maintenance is key. While the efficiency of radiators, the materials they’re made out of, and the shape and size of them have changed over time, radiators haven’t actually changed much over the last century or so.
How your radiator works. In concept, a radiator is pretty simple. Coolant circulates throughout the engine, heating up as it makes its way through the system. It moves from the engine into the top of the radiator, which consists of passageways to lengthen the amount of time the coolant is in the radiator and to dissipate heat. Thin metal fins further facilitate the dissipation of heat. Air moving through the radiator, either by the motion of the vehicle or the cooling fan, rapidly drops the temperature of the coolant before it enters the engine again. As a result, the engine stays cool and running smooth.
What goes wrong? Radiators are pretty durable components - they generally last a long time. However, they do occasionally fail and when they do the first call is here to our shop, Autoworks. There are multiple reasons why you might suffer a failure and many can be avoided with standard maintenance. Here are some common issues your radiator might have:
Debris in the system. If rust, sludge, or other contaminants make their way into the coolant system, the radiator is likely to get clogged. Those small passageways are great for cooling liquid but almost act as a collection place for dirt and debris. Sometimes it can be flushed out, sometimes not and that results in a need for a new radiator.
Damage. Radiators are sensitive to any kind of damage - it isn’t hard to put a hole in one or collapse the cooling passages inside the radiator. Damage can occur during other engine work, front end damage, an object contacting the radiator, or even just from age. They’re always under pressure, so there’s a tendency for radiators to come apart at the seams after many years of use.
Overheating. Sometimes a bad radiator causes overheating, sometimes overheating causes a bad radiator. Either way, overheated coolant can put too much pressure on the radiator, causing it to balloon or develop leaks. Fortunately, one of our professional technicians at Autoworks can diagnose, repair, or replace a radiator, and have you back on the road in no time.
At Autoworks we will help you prevent the need for any future radiator repairs by providing maintenance. By far, the most important aspect of radiator maintenance is coolant servicing. By having the coolant flushed as recommended by our technicians, you prevent debris from clogging or damaging passageways in the radiator, and ensure the cooling system is up to the task of keeping your engine cool. Since overheating and debris are two of the main causes of radiator failure, a coolant flush goes a long way.
Keeping your thermostat, hoses, and other cooling system components are also crucial. If your engine runs hot, the radiator will fail faster. Watch for leaks and overheating issues, and let one of our technicians at Autoworks know if there is a problem. When you see fluid under your vehicle and it is not simply water from running the air conditioning then we need to know about it quickly as it is typically a radiator issue.
No matter your repair or maintenance needs, we’ve got you covered! For the best service by highly trained technicians, trust Autoworks in Ithaca. Stop in or call us today for exceptional service by a team that cares about your needs.
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