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Ford Truck Club Forum > GARAGE TALK > Garage Talk: Shop Class 101



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Old August 22nd, 2013, 07:32 AM
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Exclamation Dealing with an Overheated Radiator

Overheating is one of the most common breakdowns that autos encounter during the summer season. It happens when the temperature of the coolant exceeds the normal operating temperature range of the engine. Overheating has many causes. Idling under hot weather for prolonged periods can wreak havoc on the cars cooling system, because the water pump doesn't turn fast enough. Thus the coolant is not circulated, as it should be. Sometimes a leak may cause the coolant level to drop thus causing the radiator to overheat. Here are a few pointers for dealing with an overheated radiator:

1. Turn off the A/C. If the car is not seriously overheating, this will reduce the engine's temperature. The AC evaporator is located in front of the radiator, and it adds heat to the air going to your engine. The hotter the incoming air is, the less efficient the radiator will be.

2. Turn on your heater (set on highest temperature setting, with blower on highest setting). This will be uncomfortable for you, but it will cool the engine by transferring the heat to the air. Roll down the windows, and remember how 'hot' you'll get if your engine needs replacement!

3. If you're stuck in traffic, pull over and stop. Unless you're moving, very little cool air reaches the radiator. Open the hood and let the engine cool off. This takes time, so be patient. Use the time to go get a jug of water or antifreeze.

4. Check the overflow tank coolant level. If it's empty, the radiator is probably low on coolant.

5. Check the pressure of the system by wrapping a cloth around the upper radiator hose and squeezing it. If it's still under pressure (hot) it will not squeeze easily. Wait until it does.

6. Place a large cloth over the radiator cap, and carefully release the pressure. Serious burns can result from the hot coolant. If in doubt, wait until the engine cools completely.

7. If the coolant is low, start the engine, and slowly add the water or coolant necessary to fill it up. The engine must be running. Adding coolant to a warm engine can crack the block. By running the engine, the coolant keeps moving and reduces the chances of this type of damage occurring.

Radiators are indispensable parts of any cooling system. They are designed to dissipate the heat, which the coolant has absorbed from the engine. However, like all auto parts, radiators are prone to damage and corrosion. As it is mostly made of metal and is in constant contact with liquids, radiators can break down over time due to corrosive forces. Defective radiators can spell doom for any engine. Irreparable damage can result if a malfunctioning radiator is not repaired or replaced immediately.

If your radiator needs to be replaced, you can find aftermarket radiators that are more affordable but are nonetheless excellent in quality. Replacement radiators are available from auto parts suppliers down the road or on line.


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