When you're driving your car at full speed on a motorway, the temperature inside the engine can rise to unbelievable levels. In fact, it can be as high as 200°F (104°C), and the motor will certainly need some help if it is to maintain its efficiency, keep working as it should and avoid having a meltdown. In order to protect the engine, water has to be recirculated through special channels within the engine block, and the whole process relies on the humble radiator at the front of the vehicle. There's much more to this radiator, however, than may meet the eye, so why should you keep a close watch on its functioning from time to time?
How It's Made
The modern-day radiator is typically made from aluminium, is quite lightweight and is specially designed to put up with high engine temperatures efficiently. If you take a close look at it, you will see a variety of different components, including fins, tubes, headers and tanks. The tubes and fins are carefully engineered and are typically made up of thin aluminium ribbons, which are set out in a corrugated fashion. The hot water is forced through these thin tubes and over a very broad surface area so that air is allowed to flow over the surface in a regulated fashion, to dissipate all of that heat.
The diameter of each fin is very small, because if it were any larger it would be impossible for the airflow to cool the water effectively. All would be fine were it not for the nature of the fluid that passes through the system, however.
The fluid inside the system contains a variety of impurities. With time, tiny particles of rubber can strip away from the inside of some pipes and corrosion can take place inside the engine, and all of these imperfections will end up within the coolant. It doesn't take much for tiny particles to become lodged inside those miniature fins, and this will eventually lead to a blockage.
If you notice that your vehicle tends to overheat, and especially if it's been stationary for a little while, then your radiator may need further inspection. You can take it into a car radiator repair service, and they will flush out the system using specialist equipment to get rid of these imperfections. This will enable you to get back on the road without needing to worry about engine temperatures and longevity.