October 2, 2015

A radiator in a home is designed to keep a room warm, so many people might think it does the same thing in a car. In fact, it does the opposite; it cools the engine down.

Engine’s heat up. A Lot. The internal temperature of a vehicle’s combustion engine can reach up to 2,500 degrees Celsius. At this kind of temperature the metal in the engine can weld itself together. If this happens, total engine failure is inevitable, and a costly repair bill is already in the post.

The heat comes from friction between moving parts. We try to minimise this friction with Motor oil which is pumped through the engine as a lubricant, but it’s not 100% effective. There’s still plenty of heat there to melt the engine, and this is where the radiator comes into effect. A mixture of anti-freeze and water is pumped through the engine, sucking up all the excess heat produced by the pistons pumping away.

This super-heated engine coolant goes through the engine, comes out the other side, and then into the radiator. The radiator is designed to have the most surface area possible in order to let the heat dissipate. Some radiators have fans that force cooler air from outside the car into the radiator help with the process. The car’s grille is also designed for this purpose. With the outside air and the radiator bringing the coolant temperature down, it’s now cool enough to go back into the engine.

If you’re coolant is low, or your radiator isn’t working properly, then this could be a serious problem. Your engine will continue to warm up, getting hotter and hotter until it blows a piston or literally melts, welding itself together. This is why you should always check your radiator and oil levels- a quick once over today can save you a lot of grief along the road. Radiators don’t have to particularly cool to work, but if they leak or crack, then it can only be a matter of minutes before the engine reaches critical levels. Always allow the engine too cool down before trying to bring it to a mechanics.