RADIATOR FAQ’s

How Radiators work & what to do when they don’t!

A car’s cooling system plays a significant role in preventing a vehicle overheating nightmare. The same principles used over a century ago still applies today; radiator parts work in conjunction with the water pump, head gasket, heaters and a maze of hoses to circulate radiator coolant through the engine block. Without a well-performing system, the explosions created inside the engine will lead to uncontrollable heat and self-destruction! Read more…

 

Why you should use quality radiator parts over discount radiators

Greater efficiency
Increased reliability

Our radiator specialists can make custom solutions with both aluminium and copper alloy designs. With better build quality and heat dispersal, an ADRAD solution lowers coolant temps faster while offering greater reliability under the stresses of high temperature. Cheap radiators compromise reliability through shoddy parts and workmanship, leading to complete failure and engine damage.

In essence, radiators do an amazing job and a well-constructed and serviced radiator will have minimal issues throughout its lifespan. However, when things do go wrong, the issues can be quite diverse and require an expert. Our nationwide network of radiator agents will be able to supply you with the best quality radiators and radiator parts produced by trustworthy and established manufacturers.

 

How does radiator cap help my car’s engine beat the heat?

Most people have no trouble locating and identifying the radiator cap in their vehicle’s engine. But do you know how it works?

While the radiator cap, also known as a pressure cap, is just a small component of your vehicle’s cooling system it plays a vital part in helping the engine keep its cool and providing you with trouble-free motoring.

Unfortunately, most people never spare a second thought for their radiator cap, sometimes even for the entire life of their vehicle. However, this is not something that we at ADRAD National Radiators recommend you do.

If you notice an unexplained water loss from your vehicle’s cooling system or you find your vehicle’s engine is running a little hotter than usual, there could be a problem with the radiator cap. A radiator pressure cap is a relatively cheap automotive item, making the cost a very small price to pay for insurance against the more dire consequences of overheating.

That’s why, as members of a specialist radiator repair company, our nationwide network of radiator agents advise that you replace your vehicle’s radiator cap every two years, when you get your radiator service done, and drain and flush the radiator.

 

Why is the right mixture of cooling liquid important?

The liquid in an engine’s cooling system should be a 50/50 mix of water and coolant or antifreeze.

The job of the water is to take the heat out of the engine. However, water’s boiling point is too low and too close to the optimum operating temperature of the engine for it to be able to cool the engine effectively on its own. Water’s freezing point is also too high, and water also allows corrosion to happen within the system.

So, we have to add coolant or antifreeze to the mix. The coolant enables a higher boiling temperature and a lower freezing point, and it also contains inhibitors that prevent corrosion.

With the right water-to-coolant ratio in the system, a vehicle’s cooling system can manage temperatures as low as -37° C and as high as 106° C.

But wait, the story doesn’t end there. In fact, this is where it starts to get really interesting, and leads eventually to the little old radiator cap suddenly taking on a starring role.

 

Why does the cooling system need its radiator pressure cap?

Remember how we said that engines are designed to operate efficiently within an 85° C to 96° C temperature range? And how the right water/coolant mix will increase this to about 106° C?

OK, so that gives the engine a little bit of wiggle room, but not very much or nearly enough, especially if it has to work hard or in the warmer months.

Now, this is where the beauty of the pressurised cooling system takes centre stage because when you put a liquid under pressure the point at which it will boil goes up.

As we said, the boiling point of the right water/coolant mix was around 106° C, but that is when the liquid is only under 1 psi (or 1 pound of force per square inch) or 6.9 kPa (or kilopascal – 6900 newtons per square metre) of pressure. However, most automotive cooling systems are designed to operate at around 15 to 18 psi or 103 to 124 kPa.

As the engine gets going and its coolant heats up, the coolant also begins to expand and create additional pressure. By allowing that pressure to increase, the coolant’s boiling point also increases to around 125° C at 15 psi / 103 kPa, which means the fluid in the cooling system can absorb even more heat from the engine without boiling.

At 125° C, the cooling system and the engine now have a lot more wriggle room than they would have at 106° C for staying safe and being able to operate at maximum performance. However, heat and its corresponding pressure know no bounds and they’ll party on together until disaster strikes unless something can control them.

 

What do radiators do?image009

When the engine is running it produces a lot of friction and heat. The radiator uses coolant to keep the engine running at a healthy temperature, therefore the radiator prevents the car engine from overheating.

 

What are the tell-tale signs of a damaged radiator?

  • Steam coming out of the bonnet indicates an overheating engine and possibly a faulty radiator
  • A puddle underneath the car could indicate a leaky radiator
  • If the temperature gauge signals HOT, this may indicate a damaged radiator

 

What should I check for?

  • Check the coolant levels when your vehicle is COLD, it should sit somewhere between the min and max level. Check these levels often, as a sudden drop in levels could indicate a leak
  • Check there is no sludge build-up around the radiator cap or neck of the radiator
  • Check there are no leaks in the radiator core or tank
  • Check for signs of damage to the radiator and heater hoses, such as loose clamps or deterioration

 

Why is my auto radiator making a noise and how do I stop it?

Occasionally, noises coming from your heating system will not be as a result of a faulty product; it is much more likely to be down to poor installation. The noises are usually banging from the pipework or the radiators themselves as the heat causes the materials to expand, or the whooshing of water. If you have had radiators installed recently, contact the installer involved.

 

How do I tell if my radiator is faulty or if there’s something else wrong with the car?

A pressure test will determine this, just call your local ADRAD Radiator Agent to have this done.

 

Why do radiators need repairing or replacing?

Radiators may become damaged over time due to corroded tubes, faulty seals or a cracked tank. Like many essential car parts, radiators need to be repaired or replaced so that the vehicle can function properly.

Many radiators only need the faulty part repaired. However, if your radiator was a cheap after-market product your best bet is to replace it before the unit fails completely and damages your vehicle.

Talk to your local ADRAD radiator Agent to discuss the best option for you.

 

Why should I go to an ADRAD Radiator Agent when there are cheaper options out there?

There are many cheap radiators imported into New Zealand, These are often mass produced using inferior materials and sub-standard techniques. These may seem appealing as they’re cheap, but they can quickly end up costing a lot more than a quality one. Therefore, buying a quality radiator is a decision you won’t regret.

You can trust the ADRAD radiator Agents to supply you with the best quality radiator produced by trustworthy and established manufacturer – after 80 years in the business, Adrad National Radiators are the experts!

 

Why should I clean my auto radiator?

It’s important to remember that your vehicle’s radiator and cooling system needs to be clean in order for it to be able to carry out the above process effectively.

Over time, however, solid deposits or sludge builds up in a vehicle’s radiator that can clog the cooling system, making the cooling process less effective and potentially hurting the performance of the engine.

Doing a quick, inexpensive car radiator flush every two years or 30,000km (whichever comes first) can keep your vehicle’s cooling system in shape and your vehicle running smoothly.

 

How do I fix my radiator hose temporarily?

If your car has broken down, it’s highly advised to get your car checked by a professional rather than trying to fix it yourself, but knowing how to temporarily fix a broken hose may save you in an emergency.

  1. Firstly, let your car cool off – Never do any cooling system repairs when your car is still hot. When it has adequately cooled, open the hood.
  2. Once you have opened the hood, see if you can locate the source of the steam. If the steam is coming out of a rubber hose you are likely to be able to fix it quickly to get you out of your predicament.
  3. Once you have located the hole, dry it completely.
  4. Next, you need to tear off a 2-3 inch piece of duct tape (remember to buy some duct tape and keep it in your car). Place it over the hole in the radiator hose, starting at the centre (just over the hole) press the tape firmly in place.
  5. Now tear off a long piece of tape and, starting about 2 inches above the smaller piece of tape, wrap it around the hose tightly
  6. . Tear another longer piece of the duct tape and, starting about 2 inches above the smaller piece of tape, wrap it around the hose tightly and press it in place.
  7. Now check if you have enough radiator fluid to get home or to a radiator repair shop. If it’s very low you can add water, for now, adding the coolant later.

 

How do I flush my vehicle’s Radiator?

There are 5 steps to flush an auto radiator:

Step 1: Prepare to drain the old coolant:

Ensure the engine is completely cool – in other words, your vehicle’s engine hasn’t been running for at least two hours.

Make sure you have a suitable wide-mouth container ready into which the coolant or antifreeze can drain. The container must be large enough to hold all the radiator fluid that comes out – and you’re going to do the process twice so you’ll need to be able to collect twice the volume of fluid that’s in your radiator. Coolant is very toxic so you will need to dispose of the collected fluid appropriately.

You’ll also need to have the appropriate radiator flush solution on hand for use after you’ve drained the radiator.

Step 2: Drain the old coolant

Open the radiator cap. Then look beneath the radiator for the drain plug (either a screw plug or bolt plug) or petcock. Be sure you have the receptacle for the used coolant in place under the drain before you open it. Let the coolant completely drain out of the radiator and into the receptacle.

Step 3: Add the radiator flush solution

Once all the coolant has drained from the radiator, close the drain plug or petcock.

Now pour the radiator flush solution into the radiator and fill with water. Then screw on the radiator cap tightly and start the engine. Let the engine run until the temperature gauge reaches its normal operating temperature.
At this point, turn on the vehicle’s heater and set the temperature control to the hottest position and highest fan setting.

Let the engine run like this for 10 minutes, then shut it off and let the engine cool completely again.

Step 4: Drain the radiator flush solution

Once the engine is cool again, repeat the process in Step 2 until all the radiator fluid has once again drained into the latch receptacle. The radiator fluid will also contain residue coolant flushed from the system which makes it just as toxic as the first lot that you drained, so be sure to dispose of it appropriately.

Step 5: Refill the radiator with new coolant

Once all the fluid has drained from the radiator, close the drain plug or petcock. Now that you’ve successfully performed an engine coolant flush, all that now remains to be done is to refill the radiator with fresh coolant. Check your vehicle owner’s manual to ensure you use the right type of coolant for the vehicle’s cooling system and that you mix the coolant and water to the right ratio.

Using a funnel to eliminate spills, fill the radiator with the right mix of coolant and water, usually a 50/50 mixture, but make sure you check what’s right for your vehicle. Once the radiator is full, also fill the plastic coolant reservoir if your vehicle has one, again with the appropriate coolant/water mix. Replace and tighten the radiator and coolant reservoir caps and start the vehicle. Let it run and check for any leaks.

 

What is Antifreeze or Coolant?

The main ingredient of coolant or antifreeze is ethylene glycol, a substance also found in hydraulic brake fluid. It’s a clear, colourless, odourless liquid. The main purpose of these additives is to prevent the liquid coolant from freezing, which can cause extensive engine damage. However, modern antifreeze also allows cooling systems to operate more efficiently by raising the boiling point of the coolant solution. Various substances have been used as antifreeze in the past, but most current automotive applications use ethylene glycol.

 

How is Antifreeze / Coolant a crucial ingredient for a healthy engine?

The coolant/antifreeze in a vehicle’s cooling system helps prevent the engine from overheating, especially in the hotter months, and it also prevents the engine from freezing when the temperatures drop below zero during the colder months.

Not checking your vehicle’s radiator fluid regularly or looking after the vehicle’s cooling system could lead to expensive radiator repairs later on. But what exactly is antifreeze/coolant – is there a difference, and how do they work? Let’s take a look.

 

Is Antifreeze safe for animals?

Antifreeze has a sweet test that attracts animals.  The fact it tastes sweet and so good is the big problem because if swallowed, ethylene glycol will produce dramatic and lethal toxicity.

There’s always the danger of spilling coolant or antifreeze on the ground when you top up your vehicle’s radiator. Or there may be a leak in the radiator you’re not aware of.

Owing to its sweet smell dogs and other animals (and even small children!), are likely to be attracted to it. They may ingest large amounts of it because it tastes good. Ingesting coolant or radiator antifreeze will cause widespread tissue damage in the brain, heart, kidneys and blood vessels. The result can be fatal. Even licking up a small spill of antifreeze can kill an animal.

 

Can I buy a radiator online?

Purchasing a radiator online is risky as there are a lot of subtle differences and various factors that need to be considered, therefore we don’t recommend this.

Instead, come into your local ADRAD radiator Agent to discuss the best option for you. With a nationwide network of Agents, we can generally get you back up-and-running either the same day or overnight.

 

How often should I replace my radiator coolant?

It’s ideal to periodically change the radiator fluid to maintain optimal cooling. Over time, dirt and contaminants can build up in the fluid and areas of the cooling system. Change in PH level over time can reduce the effectiveness of your coolant. Most manufacturers recommend you flush your cooling system every 24-36 months or 40,000kms-60,000kms. If the vehicle is used in very hot, very cold or harsh environments, every 12-24 months would be more suitable.

 

What are cabin air filters designed to do?

Air entering and circulating through your car can contain millions of microscopic pollutants… which is exactly what our Cabin air filters are designed to remove. A relatively new feature on the automotive scene, these are often overlooked in regular vehicle maintenance. They will maximise the performance of your Air-conditioning and make your journey healthier and more enjoyable. Now available from any  0800Radiator Nationwide Radiator Repair Agent

 

How to buy a quality radiator

When it comes to your vehicle’s engine, a quality radiator is like its best friend, because nothing else can provide the engine with a more efficient cooling process to ensure it keeps running smoothly.

The radiator’s important function makes it a vital component of every vehicle, which is why manufacturers have come up with many various models of a radiator to meet the exact requirements of all the different engines. In reference to these exacting design and specification standards, you may be familiar with the term Original Equipment Manufacturer or OEM, to describe the maker of an automotive part that is manufactured by the same company that produced the original part used in the vehicle’s assembly.

When it comes to vehicle engines and their various components, it’s always important to use the right part of the job. That’s why ADRAD radiator products meet and often exceed OEM specifications. Our products are tested to the highest quality standards to ensure optimal performance and trouble-free motoring.

 

Why do auto radiators need to be repaired or replaced?

Over time, a radiator may become damaged due to corrosion or cracked seals or some other failure, usually as a result of poor maintenance. Like many other essential car parts, radiators also need to be properly maintained and, if necessary, repaired or replaced in order to ensure the vehicle can function properly.

When this happens, and given how vital a role the radiator performs for the health of your vehicle’s engine, it’s always wise to get your radiator repair done by a specialist radiator repair service.

 

How radiator cleaning service is done?

By utilising chemical and steam cleaning, we’re able to target internal and external blockages in any radiator.

 

What is Reconditioning radiator service?

This involves stripping the radiator down and cleaning every part. By unblocking the tubes and resoldering connections your radiator will have a new lease on life.

 

When you need Recore radiator service?

Recore radiator services are needed when the condition of current core is worn, damaged or unsatisfactory. Many different specifications are available from our radiator servicing experts to suit your purpose – ADRAD can even offer high performance cores for vintage models as a superior cooling alternative.

 

What type of radiator repairing we do?

We can repair many leaking radiators. Be it tube leaks, core leaks, or even tank leaks, ADRAD’s superior radiator services technicians can fix the problem with trust and care.

 

Why go to a reputable radiator agent?

The huge variety of radiators available on the market today can make choosing the right one challenging for anyone but the most knowledgeable radiator specialist. In other words, someone who knows about key radiator factors, such as construction, tubing, airflow, and so on, like the back of his hand.

Remember, while a radiator might not be an overly cheap item, it’s much less expensive than having to replace the engine!

Unfortunately, some people forget this very important point and are sometimes distracted by the often cheaper radiators that are available from sources other than a professional radiator service, or even online.

However, when it comes to radiators, cheaper often means that corners have been cut somewhere in the manufacturing process, with the end product usually inferior to the OEM design specifications required for your vehicle.

 

Quality radiators mean better performance and longer life

There are many small differences between quality radiators and inferior ones, which together combine to make a big difference to the radiator’s overall performance and service life. It’s important to remember that in the radiator game, better construction always means better performance and longer life.

To reduce costs, inferior quality radiators are often mass produced using sub-standard techniques and inferior quality or thinner gauge materials that don’t meet those important OEM specifications.

 

How could this affect the performance or life of your radiator?

  • Well, for example, if you live near the coast (and let’s face it, most Kiwis don’t live far from the coast at all) or go to the beach often, the sea air will quickly corrode the thinner cooling fins. Or, if the incorrect material grade is used for the header plate – that’s where the radiator tank joins the core – the header could split, which will make it impossible to repair the radiator.
  • Then there’s the question of whether the fan and shroud will fit correctly to the cheaper replacement radiator. If there are gaps around the shroud or holes that don’t line up, you’re almost guaranteed poorer performance.
  • Or the tank size of the cheaper radiator could be wrong, which will also mean that the header plate is also the incorrect size, which leads to problems with inter-changeability if a new tank needs to be fitted at a later stage. Not being able to get the right size could mean that you’ll need to buy a whole new radiator again instead of simply being able to replace the part in question.
  • Finally, ask yourself what sort of guarantee comes with the cheaper radiator. You might not like the answer.

So, while a cheaper than expected radiator might seem very appealing, it can quickly end up costing you a lot more in time, hassle and money than a quality radiator that you can rely on.

If you’ve got a quality radiator in your vehicle and it develops a problem, take it to a specialist radiator service company and you’ll likely find that instead of having to replace the whole radiator you only need to replace a part or get a minor radiator repair done. This is seldom the case, however, if you’ve got one of the cheaper after-market radiators, where a fault usually means a complete replacement.

 

Where to get the best radiators?

ADRAD National Radiators have been in the radiator business for more than 80 years, which means we’re a radiator company that offers expert radiator repair services. Our nationwide network of radiator agents will be able to supply you with the best quality radiators produced by trustworthy and established manufacturers.

Our radiator agents carry the most extensive range of engine cooling products in New Zealand – from components to radiator cores to complete assemblies – and our radiator experience and know-how ensure our products provide unmatched performance and reliability.

We’ll check on the condition of your radiator, assess what it needs and advise you on the best maintenance plan, and with our nationwide network of radiator agents, we can generally get you back up and running either the same day or overnight.

Finally, for your peace of mind, we offer a two-year nationwide radiator warranty support from our radiator repair network, which means you’re covered from one end of the country to the other.

Isn’t it time you had your vehicle’s cooling system comprehensively checked by a specialist radiator service? Call us on 0800 723 428 and we’ll get it sorted for you.

 

Radiator repairs