If you’ve ever seen a frustrated motorist on the side of the road with smoke billowing from under the hood, the overheated engine was likely caused by a malfunctioning radiator. In all types of weather, the radiator works to maintain engine balance, so understanding how to diagnose a leak could save you from looking like that other guy. Here are a few of the most likely causes of a radiator leak.
Overheated coolant and water end up in the coolant reservoir, so a crack in this area will cause coolant loss. In good news, this part can be fixed without much hassle or cost.
Broken Radiator Cap
Damage to this small but significant part can lead to a whole mess of problems since its malfunction can lead to leaks and collapsed hoses. Fortunately, this part can be easily checked, and replacing the cap is neither difficult nor expensive.
A Failing Water Pump
The water pump contains several valves and gaskets that could break with time and use. To diagnose and resolve the issue, a licensed mechanic is your best option.
Cracked or Broken Hoses
The radiator consists of hoses that source the engine with coolant, but they can become brittle over time and crack. You should be able to visually diagnose this issue, looking carefully for leaks or pinching the hoses to see if they feel stiff or easily broken (make sure to keep the engine running while you check).
Defective Heater Core
Like a miniature version of the radiator, the heater core powers the defrosting mechanism that heats the inside of the car. If this element stops working, the cabin could become excessively humid and/or the heater could fail. This part is another that is best suited for professional evaluation.
Blown Head Gasket
A broken head gasket results in coolant leakage into the crankcase, which will affect engine oil and spark plugs. If the head gasket is blown, look for discolored motor oil or engine misfires. If this problem lasts, your entire engine could fail, so call a mechanic at the first sign of malfunction.
The most common signs that your radiator is in danger are leakage under the car, low levels in the reservoir tank, or a sudden overheating of the engine. To minimize damage until you can get your vehicle to a professional, use a leak repair product to plug the leak. However, this fix is temporary, and you should make an appointment with a licensed mechanic as soon as possible to prevent further damage to the engine.
For all your vehicle’s needs, call Fairfax Auto Repair at 703-822-5911 and schedule an appointment today!