When it comes to radiators, most people don't think about them until they suddenly stop working altogether. It turns out, though, that there are some big clues that you can pay attention to in order to avoid potentially breaking down completely. Once you know what to look for in a failing radiator, it's easy to find a solution for the problem.
Burning Smells When the Car is Running
Burning smells are never good when it comes to your car, but it helps to narrow down the cause of what could be wrong with your car. In some cases, brakes that are going bad can cause a burning smell. To help determine the cause, let the car run and then lift the hood and smell around in the engine compartment. Burning coolant is most likely to happen around the reservoir or the radiator itself, if that is the problem. Once you know exactly what burning engine coolant smells like, you'll be able to recognize it again.
Overheating During Normal Driving
When your radiator is working properly, it keeps your car's engine in a normal range. You probably don't think about it too much because the temperature gauge doesn't show you any unusual movement. As the radiator has more and more difficulty keeping the engine cool, however, you'll see a huge fluctuation on your temperature gauge. The needle may go to the high end of normal and then rapidly drop for a while only to rise again. Keeping an eye on your temperature gauge more regularly helps you to get a feel for what normal is for your car, and then you can recognize abnormal temperatures more readily.
Rusty or Watery Liquid in the Coolant Reservoir
You can't see much of the coolant when it's in your radiator other than a little bit under the cap. A better place to check out the status of your coolant is the reservoir where you actually fill the radiator from. These containers are usually made from semi-opaque plastic that allows you to see if the coolant is the normal greenish-yellow color or more of a rusty shade. Open the reservoir lid and check the coolant itself. If it looks cloudy or as though there is a lot of sediment in the reservoir, you may have an issue. Coolant that is abnormally-colored is also cause for concern.
If you think it may be time for a new radiator, contact someone who can help, such as a radiator service by Action Muffler Radiator & Brakes. Professional mechanics can have you back on the road again in no time at all.