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FAQs Concerning Radiators
How do I clean a radiator?
The car’s radiator is like a magnet, attracting all sorts of debris, including insects and dirt. Lift the hood and you may find the radiator fins clogged with debris. When the radiator is cool, bring out a garden hose with a nozzle attached and hose it down. This may help you troubleshoot cooling problems.
What is the best way to check coolant levels?
Certainly, by not removing the cap from a hot radiator — you may get burned! Instead, check the nearby coolant reservoir (recovery tank). If low, add a 50/50 mix of coolant (also known as antifreeze) and distilled water. You can purchase a pre-mixed solution or create the blend yourself.
How often should I flush a radiator?
Your owner’s manual offers the best guidance on car maintenance intervals, including how often to drain it. There are signs, too, that it is time for a flush, including leaks, overheating, regularly needing to add coolant, and a persistent sweet smell of coolant fluid.
When should I replace the radiator?
If all your cleaning and maintenance efforts are to no avail and your car continues to overheat, then it may be time to replace the radiator with a new one from Advance Auto Parts. Even so, rule out other possible problems first, including a stuck thermostat, malfunctioning temperature sensor, a busted radiator fan clutch, or even a failed water pump.
Buy replacement radiators online or visit your local Advance Auto Parts store and have one of our knowledgable Team Members help you.
Signs You Need a New Radiator
- The car is repeatedly overheating. There’s a good chance your radiator is behind your car’s constant overheating, especially if you ruled out other possibilities, including a leak, a malfunctioning thermostat, or the radiator fan clutch.
- Cracked radiator. A leaking radiator won’t hold coolant and that’s like a person losing blood. You can replace leaking hoses, but if the radiator has a crack, you’ll need to replace it.
- Sludge present in the radiator. Radiators regularly maintained by occasional flushing won’t develop sludge. Once sludge is present, you have passed the point of no return and will need to swap out the radiator.
Types of Radiators
- Plastic and Aluminum
- Comprised of an aluminum core and a plastic tank
- Found in most modern cars
- Cost efficient and lightweight
- Lightweight material
- High thermal conductivity for instant cooling
- Common in most vehicles until about 1980
- Brass tank and copper core
- Copper is corrosive and expensive to replace
- Tanks located at top and bottom of the radiator
- Gravity forces fluid to flow downward
- Commonly found in newer vehicles
- Tanks located left and right
- Coolant flows through the radiator with aid of the water pump
How to Install a Radiator
- Open the drain cock to empty the car radiator of fluid. Use a catch basin to contain the fluid. Dispose of responsibly.
- Detach the clamps holding the connecting hoses in place.
- Disconnect the cooler lines.
- Remove the clamp bolts holding the radiator in place and lift it out.
- Put the new car radiator in place, clamping same. Reconnect the cooler lines, then attach and clamp new hoses.
- Fill the radiator with water and flush out the cooling system. Once flushed, add a 50/50 mixture of coolant. Start the car and inspect the cooling system for leaks.
How to Solve Common Radiator Problems
Check coolant levels and top off as necessary. Examine the rest of the cooling system to ensure that hoses aren’t cracked. If you find a leak, trace the source.
If the radiator is plastic, you’ll need to replace it. Otherwise, if the leak or hole is small, soldering may provide an effective solution.
Flushing the radiator on a schedule will extend its life; however, replace a sludge-clogged radiator.
Buy a replacement radiator online or visit your local Advance Auto Parts store and have one of our knowledgable Team Members help you.
How do I shop for a car radiator?
Check out our full line of Carquest radiators to find one for your vehicle.
Can I change a radiator myself?
This isn’t a job for a novice, but a mechanic isn’t necessary. With the proper tools, including a socket set, you can get this job done in under an hour.
What kind of radiator do I need?
Replacing your OEM radiator with the same type is the best choice.