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Dealing with an Overheated Radiator

Posted on August 13, 2021 by Willard Fraire

Overheating is one of the most frequent breakdowns that autos encounter throughout summer time. It occurs when the temperature of the coolant exceeds the normal operating temperature range of the engine. Overheating has many causes. Idling under warm weather for prolonged periods can cause a mess on the cars cooling system, since the water pump does not turn quickly enough. Thus the coolant isn't circulated, as it needs to be. Sometimes a leak may cause the coolant level to fall thus causing the radiator to overheat. Here are a few tips for dealing with an overheated radiator:

1. Switch off the A/C. If the car isn't seriously overheating, this will lower the engine's temperature. The AC evaporator is located in the front of the radiator, and it adds heat to the air going to your engine. The hotter the incoming air is, the less effective the radiator will be.

2. Turn on your heater (set on maximum temperature setting, with blower on highest setting). This will be embarrassing for you, but it is going to cool the engine by transferring the heat to the atmosphere. Roll down the windows, and recall how'hot' you will get if your engine needs replacement!

3. If you are stuck in traffic, pull over and stop. Unless you are moving, hardly any cool air reaches the radiator. Open the hood and let the engine cool off. This takes time, so be patient. Use the opportunity to go get a jug of water or antifreeze.

4. Check the overflow tank coolant level. When it's empty, the radiator is most likely low on coolant.

5. Check the pressure of the system by wrapping a cloth around the upper radiator hose and squeezing it. If it's still under stress (hot) it won't squeeze easily. Wait till it does.

6. Put a large cloth over the radiator cap, and carefully release the pressure. Severe burns may result in the hot coolant. If in doubt, wait until the motor cools completely.

7. If the coolant is low, start the motor, and gradually add the water or coolant required to fill this up. The engine has to be running. Adding coolant into a hot engine can crack the block. By running the engine, the coolant keeps moving and reduces the odds of the sort of damage occurring.

Radiators are crucial elements of any cooling system. They're designed to dissipate the heat, which the coolant has absorbed from the engine. But like all auto parts, radiators are vulnerable to corrosion and damage. As it's mostly made from metal and is in continuous contact with fluids, radiators can break down over time due to corrosive forces. Defective radiators can spell doom for any engine. Irreparable damage can result if a malfunctioning radiator isn't repaired or replaced promptly.