The radiator plays a critical function in all internal combustion engines as it help keeps a vehicle from overheating. It is connected to several channels running through the engine and cylinder head, through which is pumped a liquid which is usually a mixture of water with ethylene glycol (antifreeze). The liquid then flows through a thermostat and back again to the radiator. As such, heat is conducted away from the engine parts, making the vehicle safe from overheating.
To keep the radiator, the fluid inside, and the engine in peak conditions, the radiator is typically mounted behind the vehicle's grille, as cold air is driven through it. There is also a system of valves installed to simultaneously operate a small radiator called the heater core inside the car. This small radiator serves to warm the vehicle's interior cabin.
A device located between the engine and the radiator called the thermostat is another key component of a vehicle's cooling system. The thermostat remains closed and restricts coolant flow until the engine reaches the thermostat's activation temperature. This enables the engine temperature to remain in the ideal operating range. The thermostat closes and allows heat to build up in the engine when the engine gets too cold and it opens and allows heat to be removed by the radiator when the engine becomes too warm.
The invention of the radiator is widely attributed to Karl Benz. Nowadays, some engines have an additional oil cooler which is a separate small radiator to cool the motor oil while most turbo-charged engines may even have an intercooler.
Radiator Buyer's Guide
- A radiator serves as a heat exchanger. It is designed to transfer the heat from the coolant to the outside air.
- A radiator can come in different shapes and designs but it is basically made of metal.
- There are two types of radiators: Copper/Brass and Aluminum.
- A radiator can cost around $90 to $200.
- Symptoms of a failing radiator: coolant leak, low coolant light, frequent engine overheating.
Frequent overheating may cause long-term damage to your engine. Unnecessary stress on your engine can also damage the rings, pistons, and rod bearings. The engine’s cooling system makes sure that engine overheating does not happen frequently. One of the integral components of this cooling process is the engine’s radiator.
What is a radiator and how does it affect the cooling system?
The engine’s cooling system works with the help of a fluid or gas called a coolant. This fluid is responsible for cooling down the heated car engine. The coolant circulates in the car’s engine with the help of a water pump. A thermostat detects if the fluid has reached maximum temperature. The heated coolant will then make its way back to the radiator. The radiator cools this fluid down with the help of a cooling fan. The fluid will make its way back to the water pump and the process repeats itself.
A radiator serves as a heat exchanger. It is designed to transfer heat from the coolant to the outside air. Radiators come in different shapes and designs, but it is typically made of metal.
What are the different parts of the engine’s radiator?
A radiator is made up of four components:
This consists of a rectangular metal structure with aluminum fins. This is the largest and most important part of the radiator because the small aluminum fins allow outside air to flow to the coolant. It also takes away the heat from the coolant to the outside air. Radiators can be classified by the number of cores it has.
There is constant pressure in a car’s cooling system. This alters the coolant’s boiling point, allowing the system to be more efficient. The radiator’s pressure cap is responsible for creating this pressure. It uses a spring to create pressure up to 20 PSI.
Inlet and Outlet Tanks
These tanks are responsible for moving the coolant from the engine to the radiator. A crossflow radiator tank is positioned on the side of the core while a downflow radiator tank is located at the top or bottom of the core.
Transmission fluid is needed to cool your engine’s transmission. Transmission fluid flows through steel pipes. This type of coolant is also cooled within the radiator. Although some vehicles have a separate radiator for transmission fluids, it is more common for a radiator have both functions.
What are the types of radiator?
Radiators can be made from different materials. Each has their own set of advantages and disadvantages. The most commonly used materials are the following:
Copper and Brass
This type of radiator is made with brass tanks and a copper core. One of the advantages of using this type of radiator is its durability and ability to transfer heat better than its aluminum counterpart. However, it is more expensive and heavier compared to plastic and aluminum.
Copper and brass tanks were widely used until the mid-1980s. Although they were efficient, copper tanks were heavy and expensive. Because of its high cost, copper radiators were replaced with plastic and aluminum.
Although copper is a much better heat conductor than aluminum, many car manufacturers switched from copper/brass to aluminum radiators. Aside from being a cheaper option, aluminum is much lighter.
Some auto manufacturers use a plastic component in their tank’s radiators. Referring to this type of radiator as “plastic radiator” can be confusing because technically, the tube and fins are still made of metal.
How much does a radiator cost?
The radiator itself can cost you around $90 to $200. Depending on the material used, the price can go higher than the estimated range. Radiators can be sold individually or as part of an assembly or kit. Remember to consult your car’s manual to ensure that the radiator you plan to buy is compatible with your car’s cooling system.
What are the symptoms of a failing radiator?
The most common reason why radiators malfunction is rust. Rust can get inside the radiator and cause leaks. One of the most obvious signs that your radiator is failing is a coolant leak. Coolant will leak onto the floor on either the front or center of your vehicle. On automatic vehicles, your low coolant light might constantly turn on, even when you are constantly filling out your tank.
If you notice any of these signs or if your vehicle frequently overheats, it may be time to have your vehicle checked by a trusted mechanic.
Important Facts You Need to Know About Radiator
The radiator is one of the cooling components that prevent engine overheating. So, make sure your car radiator is properly maintained at all times.
Is your engine radiating more heat than it should? Then there might be something wrong with your radiator, which as most of us know is the cooling system's main component. So if this part's inefficiency is starting to drive you up the wall with its unreliability, then it's time to start looking for the perfect car radiator replacement.
As you drive, your engine's operating temperature gradually increases to as much as 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. During fuel combustion, the engine's temperature doubles, producing a tremendous amount of heat that if left uncontrolled, could wreak havoc to your engine and its surrounding components: overheating, or worse, total engine failure. Radiators prevent these engine problems by pumping a cooling liquid, known as the coolant, throughout the engine. The coolant absorbs excess heat from your engine and controls its temperature, thus preventing overheating. The coolant then makes its way back to the car radiator, and is cooled by a mechanical fan. When the coolant becomes cool enough to absorb more heat, it is once again pumped through your engine system.
Given the extremely crucial task that the radiator performs in your car, it is only smart to keep it in tiptop shape. Once it gets damaged, replace this part immediately to avoid hassling engine problems. Install a reliable replacement in your engine cooling system as soon as possible.
Radiator: Just the Facts
When it comes to cooling down your car's engine, no other part does it better than the radiator. It helps lower engine temperature through the simple process of heat exchange. As coolant flows through the engine, the fluid absorbs much of the engine block's heat. This keeps engine temperature at manageable levels, preventing the dangers of overheating.After taking heat from moving engine parts, the hot coolant returns to the radiator. The radiator is usually equipped with one to three rows of finned tubes that can hold heated coolant. The heat exchange process happens when air blown in through your vehicle's grille picks up heat from hot coolant, leaving the coolant at a lower temperature.The radiator's tubes are, however, thin and delicate. Front-end collisions can easily break these tubes, rendering the radiator useless. If you discover water dripping under your car, or you notice the engine's coolant level dropping unusually fast, then chances are good that the whole eadiator is busted.A replacement is probably due, but don't worry. CarParts.com has the right stuff for you.
• Prevents engine overheating
• Designed to handle hot coolant
• Fits perfectly and last longer than stock
What to Look for When Buying a Radiator for Your Car
Each time your car burns gasoline to make the wheels turn, power is created. Sure, it's good to see your vehicle tear up the highway when you drive. Then again, all that power that the car generates has a nasty effect--heat. That's the reason why vehicles should be equipped with dependable radiators to ensure that the proper engine temperature is maintained. When the temperature goes overboard, there's a good chance for engine overheating to occur.
There are many radiators that are sold today, however, there are a few things that you have to consider before buying a brand-new radiator for your ride.
Things to Consider
- Construction--- The most trusted and commonly used radiators these days are those that are made of aluminum because they're tougher and not prone to corrosion unlike other radiator options out there.
- Tubing---The bigger and wider the tubes in the radiator, the better. The truth is, wide tubes maximize the contact that the coolant makes and because of that, more heat is absorbed from the engine. Aside from the width of the tubes, the thickness also determines how quickly the heat can be absorbed. Generally, the thickness of the walls should be minimized.
- Airflow--- For the radiator to function effectively, air should be able to flow freely through the core. That means radiators that have more fins are recommended by engine experts. However, too many fins could actually crowd and block the right airflow. A radiator with 15 fins is the best choice because it allows air to move freely for proper heat dissipation.
- Radiator Fans---Believe it or not, mechanical radiator fans can eat up as much as 20 horsepower or 6500 RPM and that's the reason why you should switch to electric radiator fans. By using electric radiator fans, the movement of air inside the radiator would be improved and as a result, there's less chance that your car's engine would overheat.
- Coolant Restriction---For your car to operate at optimum levels, it's important that coolant should never be restricted. You see, no matter how well built a radiator is, it's as good as useless if its coolant is actually being restricted.
So before buying a brand-new radiator for your car, you better consider all things that were mentioned above that's because you don't want to spend anything on something that would simply disappoint you.
The Right Way to Install a New Radiator
When the radiator of your car is already damaged, you run the risk of experiencing an overheated engine. Now when this happens to your vehicle, you have no other choice but to replace the radiator right away. Though radiator replacement might be difficult, it could still be done as long as you follow the instructions stated below.
Difficulty level: Difficult (Six hours minimum to complete the task)
- Flathead screwdriver
- Open Race Wrench
Step 1: Disconnect the battery so any electric cooling fans won't suddenly get activated when you're working. also, don't forget to remove the entire assembly.
Step 2: Disconnect the radiator hoses and drain the radiator fluid. To do these, loosen the hose clamps first.
Step 3: The transmission cooling lines have to be disconnected as well and to do that, you'll need an open race wrench.
Step 4: Remove all the clamps and screws before lifting the old and damaged radiator.
Step 5: Get the new radiator and slide it into place.
Step 6: Reconnect any clamps or screws that you've removed during the removal process.
Step 7: Replace the fan shroud that you've removed.
Step 8: Reconnect all the electrical connections.
Step 9: All plastic covers should be replaced.
Step 10: Check for leaks. The main about radiator replacement is that there are just so many things pieces that you'd have to connect and reconnect that it's no longer surprising that leaks happen after the installation.