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When Your Radiator Fails | Signs of a Clogged Radiator

When Your Radiator Fails | Signs of a Clogged Radiator

When Your Radiator Fails | Signs of a Clogged Radiator

When damaged radiator symptoms indicate failure it can be very annoying, however, there are some warning signs to look out for. Once you notice signs it is time for a new radiator. Ignoring the problem won't help as it will only become worse and may leave you stranded, or worse still cause damage to the car's engine.

Signs of a Clogged Radiator

  1. Vehicle Overheats. You notice the temperature gauge rising, and if your vehicle is constantly overheating, it is most likely due to a failing radiator. It is not usually an emergency situation, but it is definitely time to book the car in to have a new radiator fitted.

When a car overheats, always give it time to cool down before removing the radiator cap. The water inside can reach boiling point and removing the cap releases the pressure inside causing burns, especially if you are bending over the radiator at the time. If you notice any steam coming out from under the hood never remove the radiator cap until it cools. Allowing overheating to continue will ultimately damage your car's engine, and replacing an engine is a whole lot more expensive than replacing a radiator.

  1. Leaking Coolant

Sometimes you will see some coolant on the garage floor under the car. If a crack occurs in the radiator the coolant can leak out. Go to see your mechanic and he may decide to pressure test the radiator to determine whether a new one is required.

Radiator coolant is a liquid that helps to keep the car engine cool as it circulates through the radiator. The main component is Antifreeze which raises the boiling point of the liquid. In the old days (the 1970s), during winter the radiator sometimes would freeze and crack in the extremely cold winters. So, the car really had to be garaged to prevent this from happening. In cold climates, the Antifreeze is mixed with the water in the radiator.

Leaking Coolant

  1. Sludge

Radiator coolant is mostly green and clean like cool aid. As the radiator fails you will notice that the coolant looks sludgy. This is caused by a failure of the barrier between the transmission fluid and the coolant failing allowing the two fluids to mix together, The coolant will be unable to cool the engine when this occurs, If it happens have the radiator replaced immediately as it can damage the engine if allowed to continue, causing the engine to ultimately seize up.

  1. Motor Vehicle Accident

Any accident damaging the front of your car can crack the radiator, so following what may seem like a slight bump, always have the radiator checked for damage. Sometimes when the radiator is damaged, the car engine will make a strange noise. When a car has front-end damage, the radiator hose can come off, and this can be easily replaced or re-attached. If this happens don't drive the car until it is fixed.

Damaged Radiator Symptoms

Once you have checked the water level and the antifreeze, it is time to check the radiator coolant level, to do this,

  • find the coolant reservoir by removing the cap and checking.
  • if the level is low add more coolant
  • run the car for 5 minutes and then check the level again, add more coolant if needed.


If your radiator is damaged offers thousands of aftermarket auto body parts and will have the radiator for you. You really can't drive around with a damaged radiator as you never quite know when it will fail to leave you stranded.

Even the most imechanite (non-mechanical) person, like me, can check the radiator for water and coolant. Our car is an expensive purchase and it is important to take care of it. Fortunately, in Florida, you have the right help available to you and it is good to know that Partsmax can help you.

Order online by selecting your car make and model. Alternatively visit our retail store, to get an idea of what parts are available for your motor vehicle. Prices are very competitive and there is a wide range to choose from in the store.