When to repair, replace or flush your car’s radiator

Your radiator is an unsung hero that keeps your car running cool, and chances are you give it little thought – until things start heating up unexpectedly.

An underperforming radiator can dramatically shorten the life of your engine and leave you stranded by the side of the road.

However the good news is that a problematic radiator don’t necessarily require replacing. Often a good flush is all that’s needed to restore its cooling performance.

If you see any of the classic warning signs of radiator problems, then nip into Natrad. Our radiator specialists will perform a free cooling system check for you and advise you whether your radiator needs repairing, replacing or flushing.

We are Australia’s market leader when it comes to radiator repairs and maintenance, with around 50 stores nationwide.

4 classic warning signs of radiator problems

car radiator cap

1. Your car is running hot or overheating

If your car’s temperature gauge ever goes into the red or if your dashboard temperature warning light ever comes on, it is important that you act immediately.

Overheating is the single most common cause of an irreparably damaged car engine. Steam billowing from under the hood is another classic sign of an overheating car.

WARNING: Don’t remove your car’s radiator cap in this situation, as this could result in serious burns.

2. Sludge in your radiator

If the coolant in your radiator looks rusty or black in colour, this is a sign of radiator sludge and your car could be on the brink of breakdown.

If left unattended, radiator sludge will eventually block your car’s cooling system, resulting in a major repair bill.

However if caught early, radiator sludge can very often be resolved with a radiator flush, a relatively quick and cost-effective procedure which can save your engine and your hip pocket.

3. Your coolant levels are running low

Whenever you check your car’s oil level, check your coolant level too. Your mechanic should check this at your service intervals, and it’s unusual for you to have to make additional top ups in-between.

If you do, you may have a leak which could result in your radiator running dry and failing out on the open road.

4. You notice leaking

If you notice a visible leak when your vehicle has been parked, such as a pool of coolant, you probably have a cooling system leak.

Common causes of radiator problems

Common causes of radiator problems include corrosion, perished hoses, a failed thermostat or water pump, blockages and obstructions, ‘stray current’, physical damage (for example from stones impacting the radiator through the grille) and radiator core leaks.

Benefits of a radiator flush

Flushing your radiator and replacing the coolant it contains can often resolve potential car overheating problems. Sludge naturally forms from rust and scale in any car radiator, and must be periodically removed.

Refilling the radiator with fresh coolant will also enable your car’s cooling system to run at peak efficiency, lubricating the water pump, improving performance and extending the life of your cooling system and your entire engine.

DIY radiator flush

Some DIY enthusiasts may choose to perform a radiator flush themselves. However if you’re thinking of doing so, then bear in mind:

  • Used radiator coolant is toxic. You should avoid contact with your skin or eyes, and always wear suitable protective clothing and safety glasses.
  • Draining and flushing your radiator will produce a large volume of used coolant-water mixture which should be treated as hazardous waste, and stored and disposed of properly.
  • Ensure your car’s engine is cold before starting, or you risk serious burns to the face and body.
  • Your car’s manufacturer may void your warranty if you don’t follow the correct procedures, or fail to use the specified coolant mixed in the correct ratio. Be sure to check your vehicle owner’s guide before starting.

Get a professional radiator flush

professional car radiator flush

Alternatively, bring your car to Natrad and we’ll not only check your radiator and coolant but your entire cooling system for you. Our workshops are staffed by fully trained radiator technicians, with an average of 10 years industry service.

As part of our standard inspection and service, we will:

  • Inspect your car’s cooling system hoses
  • Check hose clamps where required
  • Check for worn fan/engine belts
  • Inspect the radiator for external and internal corrosion
  • Check for evidence of stray current
  • Pressure test your cooling system and check for any leaks
  • Externally inspect water pump and welsh plugs
  • Check the radiator cap seal for any leaks or deterioration
  • Check for restrictions in airflow
  • Flush the system and refill coolant levels
  • Test for head gasket leaks and pressurisation

If any issues are diagnosed, we’ll determine whether your car’s radiator needs servicing, replacing or repairing and discuss this with you before commencing work.

And Natrad is Australia’s only national network of radiator replacement and repair specialists that can provide a true, manufacturer-supported 3-year nationwide warranty.