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How Do Radiators Fail and When Should They Be Changed?

Miata radiator 1 | Tim's Quality Car Care
Miata radiator 2 | Tim's Quality Car Care

Your radiator is responsible for removing heat from your engines coolant to help keep your engine cool. A leak free cooling system and a properly functioning radiator is key to the reliability and longevity of your vehicle. When engines get hot or “over heat” internal engine damage can occur. In years past radiators were constructed from brass or aluminum fins and soldered on to brass or aluminum tanks. Today most modern vehicles have aluminum fins which are crimped on to plastic tanks. The most common areas for failure on modern radiators is either where the plastic tank seals to the aluminum fins, or the plastic tank itself. Cooling systems are also subject to pressure, most cooling systems operate between 13 and 16 psi. Plastic tanks heat and cool at a different rate than the aluminum core. Over time the heating and pressure created from the heat, and the pressure relief from cooling wear the plastic on the tanks of the radiator. We find that over time the black plastic the tanks are made out of begins to fatigue. The most obvious sign of radiator tank fatigue is the tank begins to change color from a dark black to a lighter brown, as well as small cracks begin to develop. At Tim’s we inspect your cooling system every time we service your vehicle. Included in your digital vehicle inspection will be pictures, notes and ratings on your vehicles cooling system. We recommend changing radiators on most vehicles between 90,000 and 100,000 miles. At that time browning and cracking are normally prevalent on the tanks. At Tim’s we believe it is better to change your radiator when we can see outward signs of wear, but before it starts leaking. It is better for the vehicle and our customers to help them keep their cooling systems leak free. In the Attached pictures you can see the difference between the severely dry rotten tanks on a Lexus ES we serviced vs the shiny and dark black tanks of the new radiator in a clients Miata.

Let the pros at Tim’s help keep your vehicle and its cooling system reliable!

Miata radiator 1 | Tim's Quality Car Care
Miata radiator 2 | Tim's Quality Car Care
Miata radiator 3 | Tim's Quality Car Care
Miata radiator 4 | Tim's Quality Car Care


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