Common Radiator Issues & Their Sources

If your vehicle is overheating, you’re damaging your engine. High heat can warp engine components, including your vehicle’s pistons, which means that it’s essential to keep your car cool while its out on the road. That’s precisely the purpose of your radiator. Your radiator pulls heat from your engine, and it radiates that heat into air that passes through your engine compartment. As you can tell, your radiator is important. And when it is underperforming, you’re putting your car at risk for a number of issues — you could even total your engine if you drive an overheated vehicle at high temperatures for long enough.

Common Radiator Problems & Their Sources


First and foremost, overheating is an issue that cannot go overlooked. If you have an overheating engine, you’re damaging its components. Safely pull off the road and kill your engine if you have any overheating issues, and have your vehicle towed to a mechanic to avoid causing damage to your vehicle.

Overheating can be caused by a number of issues. You may not have enough coolant in your radiator, for instance. Or, your coolant may be gunked up with particulates from the engine. You might also have a cracked radiator or a broken fan. Regardless of the source of the issue, Thompson Automotive can diagnose the problem, and fix your cooling system.

Inconsistent Temperature

Radiators are designed to remain at a fairly consistent temperature. Manufacturers build their engines and cooling systems so that they steadily cool your engine. This ensures that components aren’t constantly growing and shrinking as the engine temperature changes. To keep your engine temperature consistent, your radiator must be operational, as well as the fan system which controls airflow through the radiator. If your radiator or your fan aren’t working together as they should, you may have an issue with the radiator, the fan, or the thermostat (which triggers the fan to operate). Keep the temperature of your engine consistent to extend the longevity of your vehicle.

Temperature Gage Isn’t Working

If the temperature in your vehicle never appears to raise, you could have an issue with your thermostat or the coolant temp sensor. Even in the coldest weather, your engine’s temperature will eventually raise — so if you don’t notice any changes in your temperature gage, you have a problem. Bring your vehicle into the shop and we’ll take a look to identify the source of the issue. It’s important to keep your temperature gage operational, so that you can be aware of overheating issues before they damage your engine.

Leaking Coolant

Coolant, or antifreeze, can leak from your radiator if it is cracked or if there is a loose hose. You may notice that you find coolant on your driveway. If that’s the case, it’s best to bring your vehicle into the shop right away, since a leak may deplete your antifreeze to the point where it no longer regulates your engine’s temperature. Be especially cautious if you have coolant pooling on your driveway, since it is toxic and it has a sweet taste that can be attractive for household pets. You can use kitty litter to absorb the antifreeze, as well as paper towels, soap and water, to clean up whatever remains.

You may also notice that your vehicle is producing steam while you’re driving. That’s a sign that your antifreeze is spraying out of your cooling system in the form of steam, or it is spraying onto your engine and evaporating. Either way, you have a leak that will require fixing. Be wary of your temperature gage if you notice steam caused by coolant — it’s likely that your engine is overheating as well.

Coolant may escape your radiator system if the radiator or overflow compartment caps are loose. These caps are liable to wear down over time, and the overflow compartment cap is especially liable to fly off if the radiator is especially hot.

Count on Thompson Automotive

Here at Thompson Automotive, it’s our duty to keep your vehicle in top shape. We’re proud to work with our neighbors here in Englewood, Littleton, Highlands Ranch, and the entire Denver Metro Area. We’ve been providing expert mechanic services for Coloradans for over 7 years, and we’re ecstatic to continue our dedication to the trade. If your vehicle requires radiator maintenance and repairs, or a coolant flush, you can count on our professional staff. Get in touch with us today to schedule your service!