Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

How Does a Radiator Keep an Engine Cool?

enginecarradiator

You’re driving along when you notice steam coming out from under your hood. You stop immediately to check the problem. Pop open the hood and it reveals that your car radiator has lost its coolant because a hose busted. You have to call for help because it will damage the engine if you try to drive the vehicle. You may know this fact but not understand exactly how the radiator does its job to keep the engine cool.

One hot engine

The engine runs at a high temperature during combustion. The friction of the pistons moving up and down inside of the cylinders create friction. If the engine gets too hot, it can cause the pistons to meld to the cylinder or “seize up” and stop working. You don’t want this to happen because it means replacing or rebuilding the engine.

To keep the engine cool, channels run throughout the engine block and cylinder head. All of the channels join to one outlet. Coolant, which is a mix of antifreeze and water, runs through these channels from the radiator. When the coolant becomes hot, a pump moves it from the engine to the radiator. Air passing through the radiator carries away the excess heat of the coolant. Then, the coolant is ready to go back to work cooling the engine.

The radiator must continue to work properly or it can’t cool off the engine. That’s why you should never run your vehicle if the radiator has sprung a leak or isn’t working correctly. An overheated engine will cause you even more problems and be costly to repair. If your radiator does need to be replaced, contact a reliable mechanic as soon as possible.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

Rules of the Road For Iowa Drivers
Driving on the roads requires knowledge of the rules, many of which are based on common sense and courtesy. However, even though you know the rules in...
P2159 OBD-II Trouble Code: Vehicle Speed Sensor B Range/Performance
Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC): P2159 P2159 code definition Vehicle Speed Sensor B Range/Performance Related Trouble Codes: P2158: Vehicle Speed Sensor B P2160: Vehicle Speed Sensor B Circuit Low P2161:...
What are the Car Pool Rules in Hawaii?
Hawaii is widely regarded as a land of vacation and relaxation, and as such, its scenic roads and routes are far better known than the state’s freeways. But, as with all...


Related questions

Q: Check engine light spontaneously comes on

Hi there, thanks for writing in about your 2003 Geo Tracker. There are numerous potential causes for the problem you are having. It could be anything from a bad spark plug to a failed sensor. The only way to know...

Q: Radiator leaking

With the radiator leaking, I would refrain from driving the vehicle for fear of overheating the engine and causing further damage. Radiator leaks are a common issue caused by excess heat and pressure inside the radiator. I would recommend having...

Q: Overheats at 120 C even after replacing thermostat and water pump.

If the hoses are cool, engine coolant is not flowing due to a blockage in passageways or hoses or inadequate water pump speed due to a loose drive belt. If you just added coolant after replacing the water pump and...