June 22

How Do I Know When I Need a New Radiator


Regular maintenance keeps vehicles going at their best as long as possible. Still, different parts will eventually wear down and fail due to everyday use. The radiator helps keep internal combustion engines cool, protecting them from critical heat damage. Here are the signs you will see when your radiator begins to fail.

An Important Point Related to Radiator Integrity

Ignoring signs of radiator problems may be tempting, but this won’t save you time or money. The worse radiator issues get, the more likely the results will cause engine core damage that costs a great deal more in terms of time and money to repair. The typical radiator costs between $700 and $1,000 on average. Larger units for trucks and SUVs and more advanced ones for luxury vehicles cost more.

If your car has a four-cylinder engine, replacing it can cost approximately $4,000. However, high-performance engines can require more than $10,000 to replace. In the case of a complete radiator failure, you won’t be able to drive for long before the engine overheats and suffers thermal damage, typically around one-fourth of a mile later. To avoid needing to replace your entire engine, it’s wise to have the radiator checked at a certified service center as soon as any of the following signs are detected.

Radiator Fluid Mix Leakage

Most radiators run using a combination of water and glycol antifreeze at a one-to-one ratio. Radiators that have suffered structural damage due to temperature issues, impacts, or small component failures may leak this fluid mix. It’s possible to safely drive your vehicle to a service center if the leak is minor, but if your car has a significant leak, you should have it towed to avoid expensive engine core damage.

The liquid mix in radiators is highly toxic to pets and people, so it should be thoroughly cleaned up immediately, especially in or around homes with small children or pets. A tiny amount, as little as half a teaspoon, can be lethal for pets. It costs between $125 and $600 to fix a leaking radiator, depending on the unit.

Rust and Corrosion

Rust and corrosion are more common in older vehicles but can also be a concern for those with newer cars. Rust sharply reduces the capacity of radiators to bleed off heat as intended. The broader the rust contamination, the less effective the unit will be. Corrosion of connecting or internal parts can also cause problems when radiator fluid and rust mix. You can have rusted radiators repaired, but you should replace heavily compromised ones. De-rusting a radiator costs between $125 and $275, but components lost to corrosion may increase that cost.

Thermostat Failure

It may sound odd, but the failure of a component not tied to the radiator can cause drivers to miss radiator-related high-temperature issues, resulting in expensive engine component failures. That part is the thermostat, which monitors the engine bay. Our service professionals can replace that part easily, so our valued customers can always be sure of the integrity of their engines. Engine thermostats cost between $200 and $500.

Water Pump Failure

The water pump moves the coolant fluid mix through the radiator and around the engine, allowing the vehicle to bleed off heat from the engine. Pump failure has the same overall result as total radiator failure: The motor will lose its heat-sinking capabilities and overheat quickly. You should never ride in a vehicle with a bad water pump to a service center since driving it could cause heavy heat-related engine damage. Water pump replacement costs between $400 and $800.

Sludge Clogging or Leaking

Sludge can build up in radiators when rust mixes with the coolant or when the coolant fluid is old. These mixtures are highly harmful and can corrode surfaces. To clean them, you should wear protective gear to avoid contact with skin and inhalation of fumes. If you detect sludge in your radiator, it must be flushed out. It costs between $100 and $150 for a radiator flush.

Air Contamination of the Coolant Lines

Sometimes, air can get into the coolant lines of vehicle radiators. This creates pockets of air between the fluid, which can decrease the effectiveness of the radiator and cause fluctuations. If the engine temperature variations shown by thermostats are erratic, air may be contaminating the coolant lines. 

If there’s air in your vehicle’s coolant lines, towing it to the shop is usually unnecessary. This issue only decreases the effectiveness of the radiator, so the chance of thermal damage is low. Simply bleeding the system of fluid and replacing it can resolve the problem. That service operation costs between $100 and $150 on average.

Skyrocketing Engine Temperatures

Though the other issues you might notice could potentially be fixed without replacing the radiator, this one is a sign of total radiator system failure. If a vehicle’s radiator is not functioning correctly, it can cause damage to almost all components inside the engine bay. The engine’s thermostat will overheat and remain in the red zone if the radiator is not working. Driving the vehicle in this state can significantly reduce the engine’s running life by tens to hundreds of thousands of miles, even if there’s no apparent severe component damage.

Come to Huffines Kia of Corinth for All of Your Radiator Needs

Our professional team at Huffines Kia of Corinth knows how to repair and replace an incredible range of radiator units. We hope you come and see us if your vehicle’s radiator has issues. Our parts and service centers are open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can find us at 6940 S. Interstate 35E in Corinth. Give us a call or set up an appointment online if your radiator is having issues. We offer great service specials regularly, so you can save significant money by coming to us.


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