Though everything may seem fine on the outside, a radiator can still have plenty of problems on the inside. Being vigilant with the symptoms of a clogged radiator will not only prolong the life of your engine, but also save you from expensive repair costs as well.
So how does a radiator get clogged? Many factors contribute to this problem. For instance, rust can build up overtime inside your radiator. You increase the chance of this happening when you tend to ignore performing a radiator flush with some regularity. Or maybe you use poor quality coolant that contains plenty of contaminants. Regardless of the cause, engine heating is a very serious thing, so make sure you pay close attention to these five symptoms of a clogged car radiator.
1. Leaking coolant
When coolant is not able to circulate in the radiator, it can leak out onto other areas of the vehicle. When you see small drops of coolant on your garage floor or driveway, look over your radiator and see if coolant is leaking anywhere in the assembly.
2. Discolored and thicker coolant
You know your coolant’s original color, don’t you? You also make sure to check the condition and level of your coolant, right? If you do, then you’ll easily notice a change in its color and viscosity. When rust, sludge, and other contaminants mix into the coolant, it will turn into a dirty brown color and feel thicker than usual. When this happens to your coolant, the potential for buildup increases.
3. Damaged water pump
When a radiator gets clogged, coolant will stop flowing into the water pump. Pretty soon, without coolant to lubricate its parts, metal will start grinding on metal, pressure will build, and the water pump will suffer damage.
4. Excessively high gauge temperature readings
When your engine begins to overheat, your gauge temperature readings will move more toward the red zone. Newer cars have digital temperature gauges that give off a warning when the engine temperature reaches dangerous levels.
5. Blocked, bent, or damaged radiator fins
Coolant is not the only thing passing in and out of your radiator. Air also needs to circulate freely through its fins. Those radiator fins absorb heat from the coolant, and it does its job best when air is able to pass through unimpeded. When fins get bent, damaged, or clogged up by dirt, leaves, and other materials, airflow is blocked, which prevents the fins from performing their desired function.
Depending on the type of problem you have with your radiator, solutions can range from a simple pressure wash, radiator flush, or replacement of the radiator assembly. Your vehicle engine relies on the radiator to keep cool. If the radiator is unable to do its job properly, overheating ensues, and that leads to a whole host of problems you don’t want to have.