What is Radiator Service and Repair?  | Scott's Fort Collins Auto

What is Radiator Service and Repair? 

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Your radiator has a very important function – running coolant through your engine.  Without that, your engine will overheat and the car won’t run. Scott’s Fort Collins Auto & Repair can check for coolant leaks, most commonly caused by corrosion but also possibly stemming from cracked or loosed hoses or a tear in the radiator. Here is what your radiator service will include and how we can help you. 

What is the Radiator? 

Essentially, the radiator is Grand Central Station for an engine’s cooling system, Cars.com explains. The mixture of antifreeze and water that cools the engine continually passes through the radiator. From there, it discharges some of the heat it gathered from the engine and takes in cooler air before it circulates again around the engine. A spur line sends warm coolant to the heater core to generate heated air for the interior when required. 

A water pump circulates the coolant around the engine, and a thermostatically controlled fan behind the radiator turns on as needed to bring more air through the radiator to help cool the antifreeze/water. 

Today, most radiators are made of aluminum and plastic and can typically prevent rust, however, sometimes the metal can still corrode. Antifreeze has rust inhibitors that can break down over time. When this happens, corrosion can occur and cause damage to cooling fins inside the radiator and rust to occur from the inside and result in leaks.

Due to all of this, this is why vehicle manufacturers recommended changing the engine coolant and flushing the system periodically. Some manufacturers suggest this every 100,000 miles or more, while others say the coolant doesn’t ever need to be changed and it’s levels only need to be checked periodically. 

Common Radiator Problems

Unfortunately, the radiator is a part of the car that you have to think about even when it’s not having any issues. The radiator, thermostat, and water pump are what makes up your car’s cooling system. When a problem happens, it can cause high-heat temperatures within the engine and can lead to your car overheating — and possibly failing. Hyperlube explains that your car’s engine is typically around 200 degrees Fahrenheit, but when it isn’t being cooled down, the heat can cause problems with all sorts of parts under the hood. 

They explain that the most common radiator problems are:


When your radiator leaks it typically is due to leaky hoses, however, it can also be due to leaks in the radiator itself which is a larger issue. The coolant continually running from your radiator to your hot, running engine and back again can create unneeded pressure. That pressure buildup will eventually lead to disaster for your radiator hoses. These hoses can degrade or come loose, which will allow coolant to leave the system — which will result in overheating. The solution here is to replace your radiator hoses regularly as part of standard maintenance. 


Rusty radiators happen when air, metal, and liquid come together. All of these ingredients are present in your radiator, which means rust is a threat. If a radiator becomes too rusty, it can cause holes and leaks. The solution here is to do a coolant flush every 20,000 or 30,000 miles to get rid of existing rust and prevent more from forming on your radiator. 


Another common radiator problem is a buildup of mineral deposits which is often referred to as ‘gunk’. Gunk is a thick and goopy substance that can clog things up. Mineral deposits, by-products, debris, and other obstructive buildup within the radiator can make it more difficult for the radiator to flow the right amount of coolant to the engine. To correct this issue, again, flush the coolant. 

Faulty water pump or thermostat

Your radiator is just one component of an interconnected coolant system. All of the parts within this system need to work properly to keep your engine cool. If the thermostat goes down, the system will not know when to release fluid to the radiator. If the water pump fails, the system will not have the pressure necessary to flow the coolant through. In this case, the only solution is to replace the faulty thermostat or water pump. 


An overheated radiator or engine is the typical result of any kind of problem with the cooling system. If you find that your car’s temperature gauge spikes when you are sitting idle, it’s most likely to due to a failed radiator fan. For this issue, the only solution is a replacement. 

Get Radiator Help with Scott’s Auto 

At Scott’s, we recommend that you have your cooling system inspected approximately once every year.  We will check for leaks and loose belts and hoses, any potential issue.  Our trained and experienced team can repair or replace any problematic parts and keep you traveling in comfort.  Stop by and let us make sure everything is in good shape. With four convenient locations, we’re here for you! 

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