The radiator is responsible for maintaining the engine temperature at the right level. It may suffer from mechanical injuries (e.g. caused by a pebble), but may also be damaged by a worn coolant. White smoke coming out of the hood and the arrow on the temperature gauge moving to the red field is a sign that the radiator has been damaged.
What is the role of the radiator?
In the cooling system, the radiator transfers the heat collected by the coolant from the block and head of the engine. The coolant goes through small channels inside the radiator ribs as the air generated by the fan or by car movement passes through it.
When should a radiator be changed?
A radiator may become defective as a result of the wide range of temperatures to which it is exposed, the pressure inside the cooling system, as well as mechanical damages. A defective radiator will leak coolant and lose its ability to release excess heat from the engine, ultimately causing its damage. A radiator may fail also as a result of external contamination or concentration of limescale in the cooling system (in the case of a poor quality coolant). If this happens, the radiator will have to be replaced with a new one. But first, the coolant must be removed from the system.
How is the coolant changed?
Depending on the car, the size of the engine chamber and additional devices fitted near the front part, removing a radiator may simply require unscrewing its mounting screws, disconnecting the cooling hoses and removing the radiator itself. In complicated cases it may be necessary to remove the air-conditioning system radiator or the automatic transmission. A new radiator is fitted in the reverse order. When changing the radiator, a good idea is to check the rubber cooling hoses and their connecting rings.
What to keep in mind
When refilling the coolant you should ensure that it is resistant to freezing and boiling. After all the elements have been fitted in, the engine should be started to check if the cooling system works properly. Some cars may require removing it from the cooling system by means of a special screw usually located near the thermostat housing.