So, your car radiator is getting old—can you fix it up on your own, or do you need a shop’s help?
Let’s look at what you can handle in your own garage and what damage you should be hiring out to repair.
Repairable Damage on Your Car Radiator
It’s easy to think, “oh, I’ll just throw some duct tape on it,” when your radiator springs a leak (that’s a joke, please never try that).
Still, what kinds of damage can you handle, and what do you need to go to an auto repair shop for?
Well, there are only a few conditions you can repair. Many of those conditions involve leaks and minor corrosion (though even minor corrosion is pushing it).
Minor corrosion is unavoidable. Even though most radiators are made from aluminum, which is rust-resistant, aluminum is affected by metal particles in the cooling system. So, while aluminum can’t rust, it can corrode as hard metals slowly eat away at its softer surface.
Repairs for minor corrosion are simple. Get a ScotchBright pad and a can of elbow grease and go to town. Once the metal is bright and shiny, your job is done.
The same goes for surface rust on steel radiators.
Every radiator leaks.
If you want to repair your radiator, then you need to make sure that you’re regularly inspecting your radiator to catch the inevitable leak when it’s a slow trickle instead of spraying like a sprinkler.
Try checking your tubing, replacing the radiator cap, or any of these locations for slow leaks.
Finding a leak early can save you a pretty chunk of change.
Non-Repairable Leaks on Your Car Radiator
Yes, as unfortunate as it is, you will almost certainly be taking your car to a good car repair shop like Delta Automotive if your radiator starts showing signs of severe damage.
Severe damage includes large dents, cracks in the metal, large leaks, and corrosion that has eaten through the metal. Usually, this type of damage will leave large puddles under your car, or your vehicle will begin to overheat easily.
Here’s how to spot an unrepairable radiator.
Your Radiator Has Major Corrosion
Major corrosion on your radiator can range from deep pockmarks in the metal’s surface to holes in the radiator’s core that let fluid seep out.
If your radiator looks like it’s about to morph into swiss cheese, then you should probably consider replacing it. It’s better to be safe than for your radiator walls to give way when the pressure becomes too great.
Change your radiator fluid frequently and watch for floating corrosion or rust. If you notice any, it may be time to get your radiator replaced.
Your Radiator Is Leaking
If you notice liquid pooling underneath your car, take a closer look. If you see a rainbow sheen, then you’re leaking oil and your radiator is fine.
Leaking oil still isn’t great, but it’s an issue for another article.
If the liquid appears thick and colored, then your radiator has a problem.
Check your tubes for wear-and-tear regularly to prevent this from happening!
Your Radiator Is Clogged
If your car won’t stop overheating, then the most likely culprit is—you guessed it—your radiator!
Radiator clogs happen when liquid is too old or when corrosion packs up inside of your pipes.
Technically, you could flush your radiator yourself, but because the job involves complex maneuvers, we don’t recommend going it alone.
Instead, take your car to a pro who knows what they’re doing… Especially if you end up replacing your radiator in the end.
You’ll thank us later.
So, Will You DIY or Hire Out?
Whatever you decide, proceed with the utmost caution. Clean your radiator thoroughly, try not to dent it, and drive your car nicely until you know that your colling system is good to go.
If you have any more questions about car radiators, reach out to your local car repair shop ASAP.