Everything you need to know about car radiators

Car radiators make for vital vehicle components, but just how much do you know about the technology? Find out by taking a look at this guide created by vehicle specialist Advanced Radiators:

What are the functions of a car radiator?

Primarily, car radiators work to keep an engine cool and a vehicle running perfectly. They are one of the most important pieces of equipment under a car’s bonnet.

This isn’t the sole reason why a vehicle has a car radiator though. They also function to keep various lubricants and fluids — transmission fluid and power steering fluid, for example — at an adequate temperature.

Distinguishing between the different types of car radiator

There are two primary designs of car radiators:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Another point to consider when looking at the types of car radiator available is that copper and brass core designs have begun to slowly make way for those designed with aluminium cores and plastic tanks. The reasons for this change include:

  • Aluminium cores carry less weight.
  • Aluminium cores are more cost-efficient.
  • Aluminium boasts an impressive rate of heat transfer when compared to many other common metals.

Why is coolant crucial for car radiators?

Coolant has been mentioned when looking at the two primary designs of car radiators, as it plays an important part with how the technology works.

It’s a combination of antifreeze and water that’s pumped around a car’s engine towards the radiator, with the antifreeze part of the formula functioning to prevent any water found in the radiator from either freezing or boiling.

A car radiator’s coolant level should never be allowed to get too low, as doing so can cause the entire vehicle to overheat. Water is all that’s required to keep the coolant at its recommended level.

Important safety notes regarding car radiator caps

When it comes to car radiator caps, there are a few safety aspects that need to be known.

Above all else, a car radiator cap should never be opened when the vehicle’s engine is hot. There’s a high risk that the person doing so could be scalded.

Keep an eye out for malfunctioning car radiator caps too. The water pressure of a car radiator can become compromised when the cap isn’t sitting correctly, for instance, while coolant can leak if a radiator cap fails to screw on properly.

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