Heat exchange is a crucial process in every vehicle. It allows for engine operation to take place and for your vehicle to perform at its best. One component that helps in that is the radiator. As simple as it might sound, the function of an automotive radiator can be quite complex. While not as complex as the inner working of the engine, there’s still a lot going on. But no matter if you’re new to cars or not, understanding the radiator is not that hard.

The radiator helps cool the water or anti-freeze used in your cooling system by running it through piping that is surrounded by coolant. In a way, you have the water/anti-freeze flowing through pipes that are cooled by a different type of fluid. But how come the coolant doesn’t get hot? Well, the coolant is sent through the pipes with the help of a turbulator which increases turbulence and makes the coolant flow smoothly. This makes it stay cool and extract the heat from the water when it gets in contact with the tubes. But where does this all take place?

Where Is the Radiator Located in a Car?

car radioator
source: holtsauto.com

While there are many places where the radiator can be located depending on the vehicle model and make, it is most commonly found towards the front of the vehicle when you open the bonnet. No matter whether it’s an OEM or a quality aftermarket radiator, it can also be placed near the engine or at the back of the vehicle (if the engine bay is located in the back of the vehicle).

How to Flush a Car Radiator?

  1. The first part of flushing a radiator is actually locating it or rather, locating its cap. When you open up the bonnet you’ll need to look for a round metal cap. The easiest way to find this cap is to look for two words that are generally written on it – radiator coolant. Once found, remember its location as you’ll need to refer to it at a later stage.
  2. With the location of the radiator cap noted, get under your vehicle and start looking for a valve on a large diameter hose that goes up to the radiator. This valve has a removable clamp that holds it in place. Once located, position your drip pan under it and open the valve so that your aftermarket radiator gets drained of all of its coolant. The radiator needs to be left to drain for at least 10 minutes.
  3. The flushing should be done once there is a slow drip of radiator coolant. With the valve closed and retightened remove the radiator cap and put distilled water into the radiator until it’s full. Then, replace the cap and start your vehicle. Leave it running anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Once the 10 to 15 minute period has passed, shut off the engine, open the valve and drain the distilled water into a drain pan. Then, close the valve and add fresh coolant into the radiator. Here, you’ll refer to your owner’s manual for the most adequate mixture of water and antifreeze.

How Do You Check Radiator Fluid Level?

clean car radiator
source: yourmechanic.com
  1. Checking whether or not you have enough radiator fluid is pretty simple. The cap you found and poured distilled water in needs to be opened. Open the cap by turning it counterclockwise until its first stop. This allows air to escape, but if you see some steam coming out retighten it and wait for the engine to cool down.
  2. With the engine cooled down, open the cap fully and look into the fill hole. The coolant should be covering the radiator tubes that are otherwise visible with the cap removed. There needs to be about 5 cm of space between the coolant and the end of the cap. If not, add water and coolant according to your owner’s manual. Most car radiators need a 50/50 mixture.

Radiator Maintenance Tips

Overloading

Packing your car to the max will make both your engine and radiator work double time. While sometimes this scenario is inevitable, there are other times that we can avoid it. The heavier the load you’re going to tow or put in the boot, the more stress it’s going to cause on the engine and radiator. The longer you drive, the longer both components are going to be working at their maximum.

Checks

mechanic repairing the car
source: billionautogroup.com

To prevent issues occurring on the regular and to avoid frequent mechanic stops, you need to take a good look at your vehicle’s radiator from time to time. This doesn’t just include checking coolant levels, but you should also take a look at the valve as well as the radiator pipes.

Top-Up

Make sure to top up with coolant in order to maintain the optimal functioning of the radiator. This is correlated with performing regular checks. If it isn’t for the checks you wouldn’t be able to identify how much coolant there is in the first place let alone filling up the radiator with some.