What Ails Your Subaru Impreza's Radiator?
Your Subaru Impreza's engine produces heat in the process of making your car run—a LOT of heat. The fuel inside your car's cylinders burns at temperatures over 4500 degrees Fahrenheit. The most efficient engines often make use of just 20%-25% of that heat energy to drive your vehicle. Enough heat is left to wreak havoc in your vehicle by doing things like causing lubricating oil to evaporate and engine parts to jam or melt. Your radiator, as the main component of your vehicle's cooling system, keeps these things from happening. It's a job that may eventually wear out this component. Be aware of these common radiator problems.
As your vehicle's main cooling component, radiator failure will certainly cause overheating. You may notice this especially while driving at speeds of 55 mph or more. When this happens, check if the coolant is circulating properly. You can do this by starting your car with the radiator cap off and seeing if the coolant level smoothly bubbles over the top without overflowing and by disconnecting a radiator hose to see if the coolant is still flowing. However, before making any decision to replace your radiator, know that overheating can also be caused by other components like a faulty thermostat or a worn radiator cap. In some cases, especially those involving driving in hot weather and heavy traffic, there could just be more heat than your cooling system can handle.
Consistently low coolant level
Another symptom of radiator failure is when it starts leaking. This problem is detected easily enough by the pools of coolant on your garage floor or by stains on your radiator. Left unchecked, this problem will eventually cause your car to overheat. In some cases, you can remedy minor leaks by simply adding a cooling system sealer to the radiator. A radiator with more serious leaks needs to be replaced right away. Make sure you also inspect the radiator hoses. Spongy or brittle hoses may indicate that the hoses are the ones leaking and not the radiator. Replacing just the hoses would be easier and cheaper. Sometimes, you may find yourself losing coolant without detecting any leaks at all. This could mean that the fluid is evaporating—an indication that your cooling system is failing and it's time to replace your radiator.
Tips for Keeping Your Subaru Impreza Radiator Healthy
A functioning radiator, as the main component of your Subaru Impreza's cooling system, is responsible for keeping your vehicle from overheating. Most car engines run best at a temperature of around 180 degrees Fahrenheit. At around 200 degrees Fahrenheit, your cooling system has to step in and cool the engine. Your radiator stores the coolant that circulates the engine and dissipates heat from the cylinders (in which fuel burns at temperatures exceeding 4500 degrees Fahrenheit). Your radiator also cools the hot coolant that makes its way back to it before being re-circulated. Here are some tips for making your radiator last as long as your vehicle:
Inspect your thermostat.
The thermostat is what opens to allow the flow of coolant once the engine reaches a certain temperature. A faulty thermostat may fail to open, and this affects the fluids that flow through your radiator. It can also cause high coolant pressure that can cause cracks in the radiator. You can check this by feeling the upper radiator hose after starting your vehicle. It should get hot after a while.
Check your head gasket.
Gaskets are effective seals, but they can get worn out over time. When your head gasket starts leaking, it can cause overheating or high coolant pressure that can cause cracks in your radiator.
Flush and clean your radiator regularly.
Over time, the coolant inside your radiator can become acidic and lose its ability to effectively cool your engine. Your radiator can also get corroded with rust and calcium deposits after a few years of operation. Once a year or every 40,000 to 60,000 miles, it is advisable to flush your radiator and clean it. Failure to do so can lead to clogging and overheating. Certain cleaners are used for this purpose. In some cases, white vinegar may be a cheap but effective alternative in removing lime deposits.
Mix in the right amount of antifreeze.
Even in winter, the ideal mix is 50% water and 50% antifreeze. For extremely cold temperatures (-34 degrees Fahrenheit and lower), you can increase the amount of antifreeze up to 69%. Any higher than that is detrimental to your radiator. Highly concentrated coolant tends to get slushy in very cold weather—a quality that can lead to stalled water pump impellers, broken drive belts, and more.