Car Radiator Guide

The essential guide to car radiators

Despite being one of the most vital components of a vehicle, just how good is your knowledge about car radiators? Find out everything you need to know with this handy guide compiled by vehicle specialist Advanced Radiators:

A car radiator’s functions

The main function of a car radiator is to keep an engine cool and thus a vehicle running perfectly. It’s for this reason why it’s one of the most important pieces of equipment that you will find under your car’s bonnet.

As well as assisting the engine, car radiators also work to store various fluids and lubricants — including power steering fluid and transmission fluid — at adequate temperatures.

Car radiator types

The following are the two primary designs of car radiators:

  • Cross flow radiators, which use tanks found on either side of the radiator core so that the coolant can cycle back and forth across the core. This setup enables heat to be dissipated across a spacious area.
  • Down flow radiators, which utilise a conventional vertical-flow design along with an expansion inlet tank at the top of the core so that coolant can circulate effectively through the radiator.

In regards to the designs of car radiators, aluminium core car radiators complete with plastic tanks have slowly been replacing those made from copper and brass cores.

Aluminium cores have proven popular because they carry a lot less weight and are more cost-efficient, while aluminium in general has an impressive rate of heat transfer when compared to many other common metals.

Why coolant is an important part in the setup of car radiators

Coolant has featured when talking about both primary designs of car radiators, and for good reason.

A combination of antifreeze and water, coolant is pumped around an engine towards a car radiator. During this process, the antifreeze part of the solution works to prevent any water that is found in the radiator from either freezing or boiling.

Allow the coolant level of a car radiator to get too low and the issue could be the entire vehicle overheating — water is all that’s required to keep the solution topped up.

A word on safety regarding car radiator caps

There are a few important safety considerations to bear in mind when it comes to the caps of a car radiator.

Above all else, you should never open a car radiator cap when the vehicle’s engine is hot; there’s a high risk of you being scaled by doing so.

Be cautious of car radiator caps which are malfunctioning too. Coolant can leak if a cap does not screw on properly, for instance; a cap that doesn’t sit correctly can result in water pressure being compromised.