How to Tell If Radiator Is Clogged

How to Tell If Radiator Is Clogged?

We can not stress enough how important it is to maintain the car and its core components frequently. One time we did not bother cleaning the cooling parts and flushing the coolant correctly when we changed it. And that is what got our radiator blocked and clogged.

We still did not bother to pop the hood open and take the time to clean it up. And that is where we faced all of the issues. So, if you are wondering how to tell if radiator is clogged or not, you just came to the right place. This article will describe all of the things that we faced when the radiator was clogged.

How Does a Radiator Affect a Car?

First, we would like to ensure that you have a fair idea regarding the component. You might already know by now that the radiator is responsible for keeping the engine at its optimal temperature. And the engine can indeed get extremely hot.

The radiator basically cools down the coolant that is passing through the tubes. And when there is the flow of cooled coolant through the engine, the engine stays at optimal condition. That means if the radiator functioning properly, the engine will reach an extremely high temperature in a small amount of time.

Furthermore, the radiator properly dissipates the heat of the coolant and ensures that the flow of the coolant is optimal. So, when this component is not working optimally, it will get pretty hard for you to make the engine reach its absolute potential. It will throttle a lot due to getting overheated.

Signs That Gives Away That the Radiator Is Clogged

As we mentioned, we had a clogged radiator and still drove the car around for quite a long time. And we did face a lot of issues. All of those issues were signs telling us that the radiator had gone bad or was clogged. So, without keeping you waiting any longer, let us get into describing the signs, shall we?

High-Temperature Gauge Reading

When the radiator is functioning normally, the engine will not overheat, nor will the temperature gauge freak out. In other words, when it is not operating optimally, the gauge will be at a very high point. And no, we are not speaking of the gauge being in the middle. Instead, what we are referring to is the red mark of the dial.

Some of the newer cars might have a digital temperature reading screen. Those will not offer any visual signs that the temperature is exceptionally high. Instead, they will offer the reading in number form. And the normal operating temperature for most cars is around 195 degrees to 220 degrees Fahrenheit.

On that note, some of the new cars might even offer a beeping alert when the engine temperature is way above the optimal range. Some cars might even stop the engine entirely. And if your car does not have these features, just keep a close eye on the display. Whenever the temperature is beyond that range, check the radiator.

Coolant Leaks

Sever rust build-ups can also clog the radiator. And for the pressure of the coolant, which basically the engine is causing,  the walls of the radiator might give in and crack. When that happens, there will be small drops of coolant on the floor in the beginning.

Over time, the crack might widen up, and your car can lose a high amount of coolant. When that happens, even if you are not capable of noticing the leak, check the dashboard.

There should be an indicator on the dashboard that states the amount of coolant left in the reservoir. If it is dropping at a higher rate, consider checking the radiator for clogs.

Fluid Discoloration

When there is a clog inside the radiator, the coolant will not be able to flow at the optimal pace. That means the hot amount of coolant will remain at the high-temperature place for a long time. And that would discolor the liquid. There will be internal deposits too, which will make the antifreeze change its color.

If you leave that liquid inside the reservoir for a long amount of time, it will enhance the oxidation process, further damaging the crucial parts of the engine. Now, to prevent all these from happening, you should check the condition of the fluid from time to time.

Just pop open the hood and check the color and density of the liquid through the reservoir. The coolant reservoir is usually white and translucent in color. And they will be of plastic and should have a large cap on the top. Open the cap up if you have and check the condition of the coolant once every two weeks.

Radiator Fins Blocked

There are fins on the exterior to make the radiator offer the maximum amount of cooling. Also, there will be fans attached to the radiator. When you drive the car, the radiator pushes all of the air to the inside and lowers the temperature of the coolant passing through the tubes.

However, when the fins are blocked or the radiator is clogged, the fans will make a weird noise. So, when you hear such weird fan noises when the car is idle, it is most likely that the radiator or the fins are blocked for some reason.

The fins can also get blocked due to leaves, bugs, dirt, and other materials. And for most of the cars, you will be able to notice this blockage just by taking a look through the front of the car.

On that note, you might need to remove a couple of plastic coverings for some of the cars. That means when you are speculating that the radiator might be blocked, it would be wise to pop open the hood and take a look at the radiator’s exterior.

Heater Does Not Work

When the radiator is blocked, the cabin heater will not work optimally. This heater depends on the coolant that is passing through the core of the radiator. Basically, if the radiator is blocked, the heating element will not be able to collect enough heat to pass it along to the cabin.

That being said, you will still be able to turn the heating function on, but it will offer little to no effect in terms of heating up the cabin. Instead, it will draw an unnecessary amount of power and make the engine work too much while you are driving.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace the Radiator?

how much does it cost to replace the radiator

Just because the radiator is blocked, it does not mean that the whole thing will need a replacement. You can still repair it by paying about $100. However, if you are determined to replace it, the aluminum core ones can go anywhere between $100 to $600. And this pricing will depend on the model of your car.

Final Words

After reading through the article, we hope you are still not wondering how to tell if radiator is clogged or not. And we would recommend checking the overall condition of the radiator and the coolant reservoir at least once a week. That will lower the chances of the radiator getting severely damaged.

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