How Long Does a Radiator Last?

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Your car’s coolant system is vital to ensure that the engine stays within operating temperature limits and does not overheat. It’s comprised of several different components. The radiator is the largest, but there are others, including the upper and lower radiator hoses, the coolant reservoir, the water pump, the thermostat and more.

The radiator’s job is to help remove heat from coolant after it has cycled through the engine. Heated coolant flows through the radiator, and moving air wicks away the heat before the coolant is sent back into the engine to complete the cycle again. Without a working radiator, your engine would quickly overheat, possibly causing catastrophic damage.

Your car’s radiator does have a limited lifespan, but there’s no set number of years. A lot will hinge on how well you maintain the coolant system. If you have your coolant drained and filled regularly, and never run straight water in the radiator, it should last for a long time (for at least a decade). Saying that, your radiator can be damaged in a number of ways.

If too many fins are flattened or folded, it won’t be able to properly do its job. It can also be damaged by rust (if you use plain water rather than a coolant/water mixture), and it can be gummed up by sludge from an improperly maintained coolant system.

Your radiator is working any time the engine is running. This is because coolant constantly cycles through to prevent overheating. It’s still technically on the job even when the engine is off, too, as it holds a significant amount of the coolant in the engine (in conjunction with the reservoir).

If your radiator fails, you’re in danger of overheating the engine. Knowing the signs of a failing radiator can help prevent this from being a disaster. These include the following:

  • Coolant leaking on the ground under the radiator (this could also indicate a leak at a hose, the drain cock or other locations)
  • Damaged fins on the radiator
  • Temperature gauge rises quickly past normal operating temperature (this can also indicate low coolant, air in the lines and other problems)
  • Rust in the coolant
  • Cracks in the plastic (many modern radiators are plastic, rather than metal)

If you suspect your radiator is failing, a certified mechanic can help inspect the radiator, and replace it if necessary.


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Recent Car Radiator Replacement reviews

Excellent Rating


YourMechanic Car Radiator Replacement Service

Average Rating

4.9/5

Number of Reviews

1,620

Rating Summary
1,514
61
5
10
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1,514
61
5
10
30

Raymond

36 years of experience
126 reviews
Raymond
36 years of experience
Saab 9-5 - Radiator - North Las Vegas, Nevada
Thank you for keeping us posted and showing the next steps for getting her car up and going! We appreciate the honesty and that you really love your cars!! Thank you!!
Kia Optima - Radiator - Las Vegas, Nevada
Raymond called us to see if he could start early. That was a pleasant start to the day. He was very thorough and efficient. He is an asset to the company. If I ever need to use your services again I can only hope to get him again.

Richard

11 years of experience
45 reviews
Richard
11 years of experience
Saturn SW2 - Radiator - Tucson, Arizona
Richard showed up to do showed up to replace the radiator & hoses on my aging '97 Saturn. Everything went smoothly & I got to sit at home instead of in a service department waiting room. I would highly recommend Rick! I wish I had known about Your Mechanic sooner. It is convenient and more than competitive price-wise,
Cadillac Seville - Radiator - Tucson, Arizona
Richard did a good job very professional and finished within quoted time I would defitnetly recommend him

Nikolay

19 years of experience
33 reviews
Nikolay
19 years of experience
Honda Civic - Radiator - Oceanside, California
Nikolay is a fantastic, highly-skilled mechanic. He arrived early and stayed nearly 5 hours to fix my old car’s overheating problem(s) after a previous mechanic failed to do so. It’s now thankfully running perfectly. After some back and forth, Yourmechanic honored their warranty claim and completed the repeat repair work at no cost, which I very much appreciate. Extremely knowledgeable, personable, and professional, Nikolay was the best mechanic I could’ve hoped for and I highly recommend him. Great job and thank you again!

Bereketeab

6 years of experience
23 reviews
Bereketeab
6 years of experience
Jeep Wrangler - Radiator - Roseville, California
Showed up on time. Very professional, honest and knowledgeable. I’d request him specifically for any future appointments.

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