Dripping coolant fluid? Check. Scorching engine? Check. If your vehicle is experiencing both, there’s a big chance that it has a radiator issue. In this post, we are going to give you five simple steps to fix a radiator leak.
Nobody wants to experience a radiator leak. When the coolant fluid freely drips out from the pump, not only is it annoying, but it also costs a lot of effort to fix it. That’s why it’s imperative to know how the radiator leak happens and what the signs are. Also, you need to know what are the steps to fix the problem.
How Do Radiator Leaks Happen?
First, let’s start with the radiator’s purpose. The radiator is part of the vehicle’s engine cooling system. It’s a vital setup that helps keep the engine at operating temperature by way of using water and coolant mixture.
When the motor gets too hot when it’s running, the cooling system – well – cools it down. At the same time, when it’s gone cold, the radiator helps the engine to warm up to its ideal temperature fast. The radiator also helps provide cooling and warming your vehicle’s AC system.
Because it works from the time you start the engine, the radiator takes a beating right from the start. It deals with engine heat every day, but the cooling property helps maintain its shape for the cooling system to work.
But the fluid’s cooling feature won’t stay forever. When the cooling level drops, wear and tear happens, which then melts the hose, creating tiny holes where the fluid can seep out from.
How To Tell If The Radiator Is Leaking
The good thing about radiator leaks is that it’s easy to spot if it’s happening. Check out these symptoms to know if there’s a problem with your radiator.
Puddle Under The Engine
Mentioned above, the easiest way to detect a radiator leak is when you find a puddle underneath the engine — puddle forms when your vehicle is parked. You can check under your car, and if you see a puddle forming, it’s most likely the coolant is getting out of the radiator.
It’s important to note that the fluid, though seemingly harmless, is toxic and should be disposed of as soon as possible.
When the radiator doesn’t function as it used to, the engine won’t be able to cool down as it runs. Because of this, the engine overheats every more frequently even when you don’t run at high speed. Although there are many reasons why an engine overheats, the radiator leak is one of the most common suspects.
Abrupt Drop-In Coolant Level
The coolant level drops slowly, depending on how much you drive your car. But when the level drops dramatically, it’s a likely sign that your radiator is leaking.
How To Fix A Radiator Leak
When you find the signs of a radiator leak (listed above), it’s time to check where the drip is coming from. It’s essential not to use the vehicle at the moment. Your radiator may have lost a lot of cooling fluid and may overheat the engine when you use it.
Once you find the holes where the fluid drips, check and scrutinize the extent of the damage to determine the products to use to stop the slow leaking.
These leak-stopping products are formulated to form a solid block to keep the water from getting out of the cooling system. But most mechanics suggest these products to a small radiator or heater-core leaks – at times also for cracked gaskets. For more significant problems such as cracked aluminum or a broken hose, it needs professional help.
When the problem is fixable with a leak-preventing product, here are the five steps on how to fix radiator leaks.
Get rid of the old coolant. You don’t want to mix the old water-coolant mixture with the new one, so it might as well drain the old mix first.
Rinse the entire cooling system. Make sure the whole cooling system is clean by flushing it using distilled water. This also helps activate the thermostat as well as the heater for your vehicle’s AC system. Don’t use tap water as it has mineral components and may cause sedimentation. Once the system lets out clean water, the system is now rust-free.
Pour the new coolant into the radiator. Don’t forget to mix the coolant with water and pour it in carefully.
Elevate the front part of your car. Do this to make sure that the radiator and the cooling system doesn’t trap air bubbles inside. If you don’t have a jack to use, find a slightly elevated road.
Add the stop-leak product. And you’re done, but not quite. Observe the car for a few days to check if the leaking has stopped. Run the engine at its operating temp and check the part where the fluid is dripping.
These are the easy steps to fix a radiator leak. Prevent this from happening altogether by changing the fluids regularly. Not only will it keep the tubes and the radiator function regularly, but it also keeps the other parts of the cooling system in top shape.
Terrence Clarke is a person who loves everything about cars – from tires to keys. He works as a Content Manager at Action Auto Sales and Finance. As a matter of fact, he has this collection of different vintage cars right in his garage. In his spare time, he shares his fascination with the online community by writing.
Read more: How Does Electric Parking Brake (EPB) Work?