How Much Does It Cost to Fix a Radiator?

There’s nothing worse than unexpected car problems. They’re often expensive to fix and might leave you without your car for a couple of days. 

One of the main problems when it comes to cars is that most of us don’t understand our cars well enough to prevent problems or to catch them early. Often we can’t tell that there even is a problem happening, let alone knowing where to find it. 

Today, we’re going to talk about all things car radiators. These are big trouble causers in the world of mechanics.  

In this article, we’re going to talk you through car radiator problems, where to find, why they break, how much it costs to have them repaired, and how you can prevent these problems from cropping up.

What is a Car Radiator and Where Do I Find It?

Let’s start with the basics. 

In a car, a radiator is a series of pipes usually made of aluminum. A cold liquid called Coolant is run through these pipes and they are used to cool combustion engines. They have also been used on locomotives, motorbikes, and piston-engine air-crafts. 

These radiators are placed on either side of the engine to stop it from overheating whilst it is driving. They can generally be found at the very front of your engine carriage.

What Can Cause a Radiator to Break?

There are three main areas of your radiator that can break are: 

  • The Joints 
  • The Cooling Fins 
  • The Headers

The Joints 

The welded joints are a weak point in the radiator and are one of the most common issues with these radiators. The wearing down of these joints is most likely to happen in older radiators, 

The wearing down generally results in leaks and fractures in the joints. If the coolant is completely drained from the radiator it will dry out, and the dried it is the more likely it is to break in other places. This is a self-perpetuating issue. 

On top of causing damage to itself, the leaking radiator can upset the delicate balance of the rest of the engine. This could cause you much more serious and expensive problems. 

The Cooling Fins 

The cooling fins are thin metal slithers that transfer heat away from the engine core. Without these to keep the engine cool the whole system can overheat. The fins are very thin and are therefore very vulnerable to damage. 

The fins can snap or get bent out of place. In the hot weather, they are more likely to warp. When the temperature drops they can develop a brittle texture.  This can cause a whole host of issues. Without correctly functioning fins many areas of the engine can suffer from overheating. 

The Headers 

If the pressure within the radiator gets too high then the headers can implode or rupture within the radiator. This can happen if the headers get too worn. 

The function of the headers is to seal of the tubes that absorb the heat from the coolant, allowing it to return to the engine to cool it again. If one of the headers ruptures then the radiator will cease to function.  

How Much Does It Cost to Fix a Radiator

This varies depending on the type of repairs that are needed, and how badly damaged your radiator is.

If you have a rare car, or a car that they don’t make parts for anymore it may be very expensive to repair. 

It can often cost between $300 – $1200+ to fix your car radiator. 

How to Make Your Radiator Last For Longer

We understand how frustrating car repairs can be, thankfully the experts have some good advice for preventing issues with your car’s radiator.

Luckily for you, we’ve gathered the best of this in one place and put it in a handy list for you. 

Here are the four best things you can do to maintain your car’s radiator: 

Number 1 – Top up your coolant

Over time your coolant becomes less effective, so it is important that you get it replaced or topped up every 3-4 years.

Doing this will help you to avoid any of the failures we mentioned above. 

This is something you can get your local garage to do, or try yourself if you’re comfortable working with hazardous chemicals. 

Number 2 – Regular checkups are needed

This tip works for pretty much every part of your car, but getting your car checked regularly can help you prevent a lot of tricky situations.

The earlier any damage or issues can be discovered and repaired, the better. 

Issues are much cheaper to repair when they are smaller. This is also a lot safer for you.  

Number 3 – Always flush the radiator 

There is a simple rule when it comes to car radiators – never mix coolant. When you see the list of chemicals that coolants contain you’ll understand why this is a good idea. 

If you do need to change to a different type of coolant you should completely flush your radiator before doing so. This avoids any mixing and unwanted chemical reactions inside your precious radiator. 

This is a simple process that you can get done at your local garage, or do yourself if you’re interested in learning something new.  

Number 4 – Never overload your car

It is insane how many problems you can cause by overloading your car. Did you know that overloading your car can lead to flat tires, damaged breaks, damaged a steering system, damaged suspension, and yes a damaged radiator. 

When your car is overlord every one of its parts are working harder than they were ever designed to. Your engine needs more air to cool itself and there the radiator has an increased workload. This is the point where the radiator burns through its water reserves and fails. 

To top the water reserves back up, wait for the car to cool and tend to add cold water back into the reserve. Do not attempt to do this while the engine is hot, this could lead to cracked parts.  

Photo of author

Sean Mendez

Hi, I am Sean, a self-confessed petrolhead. I live in Boise, Idaho with a busy family of four and our energetic Labrador retriever. Thank you for visiting my website. You can find my email on the contact page.

Leave a Comment