Written by By Kate Kelleher
Milder months offer drivers a chance to cruise without the worries of winter – no snow tires, gas freezes or icy roads – but drivers still need to stay alert to auto problems. The high temperatures of summer bring with them their own complications, and problems with your radiator are more likely to occur in the milder weather. We’ve asked our experts to tell us what warning signs to be on the lookout for, what leads to radiator damage and options for repair.
“A radiator disperses the heat emitted by the car’s engine, allowing parts to function without overheating,” said Alex Ordonez, service manager at Hoffman Toyota of West Simsbury. He explained that the size of the radiator coordinates with the size of the vehicle, as larger engines produce more heat and require a larger radiator. “When something goes wrong with the radiator, heat damage can occur to other part of the vehicle, particularly the engine.”
Ordonez said there are some signs of radiator damage, and a major clue are puddles left under your car. These puddles often signify a coolant leak. Coolant is designed to help the radiator disperse heat, and without it the car can not maintain a constant temperature.
“Puddles under your car can signify a coolant leak, which is the most common cause of overheating,” said Ordonez. “Leaks can occur in hoses, the radiator, heater core, water pump, thermostat housing, head gasket, freeze plugs, automatic transmission cooler and cylinder heads.”
Leaks can occur from the wear and tear of age and use, but Ordonez also outlined some factors that could cause stress on your radiator. Exposure to environmental factors, such as extreme hot or cold, can cause wear and tear on a radiator. Additionally, rocks can get tossed up underneath the car and cause damage. Even newer cars can experience radiator damage.
“The vehicle’s mileage is more of a factor in radiator damage than age. The more the car has been driven, the more cycles its parts have been through, putting stress on them,” Ordonez said.
Ordonez said the repairs needed for radiators can vary case by case, depending on how hot the temperatures get.
“It all depends on what the failure is,” he said. “The majority of costs will likely be labor, as the accessibility of a vehicle’s radiator can vary in different cars. In some vehicles, the radiator is easily accessible just by opening the hood. In others, parts must be taken out to reach it.”
Minor damages can require only the replacement of hoses and pipes damaged beyond repair or sealing a crack. However, excessive damage can potentially put the driver in danger. Overheating can cause hoses or other parts to explode or the car to stall.
Ordonez recommends periodically inspecting your radiator for visible cracks or other damage to prevent major complications, such as the engine overheating. Maintaining consistent coolant levels and topping off as needed is the best defense against the engine overheating. Overheating does not necessarily mean the car’s engine is damaged – but can result in serious damage if ignored. If you suspect that your car is overheating, it is best to have it brought to your local service department to have it checked out.
Editor’s note: DrivenCt.com is a consumer auto guide which CtWatchdog Editor & Publisher George Gombossy helped create, provides editorial guidance and advertising in return for a marketing fee. The columns that published from DrivenCt.com are not only edited by George, they are sometimes, suggested by him. In full disclosure, George’s son Ethan Gombossy is the Porsche service representative for Hoffman. And of course from time to time Hoffman dealerships pay for advertising on CtWatchdog.com. George also purchased his company vehicle at Hoffman prior to entering into the marketing agreement. Obviously George has a huge conflict of interest and therefor cannot publish any positive or negative comments from readers about Hoffman Auto Group. As he has in the past, he forwards any complaints he recieves to co-owner Brad Hoffman.
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