Radiator Replacement Service and Repair

Typical modern Radiator with palstic end tanks- Crossflow type Radiator in back ground, vertical flow in foreground- Courtesy Denso

Radiator Replacement Service and Repair

Radiator Replacement Service and Repair

What is a Radiator and what does it do?

The radiator is where the cooling of the engine coolant takes place. The Radiator consists of many thin veins or tubes with fins where coolant passes through for efficient cooling. The veins and fins are known as the radiator core. Radiator cores are designed with either a cross flow pattern of veins or a down flow pattern. Cross flow Radiators are more desirable due to their compactness that allows for lower hood lines. A radiator has top and bottom tanks or side tanks (a.k.a. end tanks) that are attached to the core. The radiators are normally placed at the front of the car behind the front grill and bumper.

Radiator cooling fans can be placed in front and/or behind the radiator.  Cooling Fans placed behind the radiator can be mechanical, driven by the engine drive belts, or driven by electric motors. Some cars use both styles of fans with the mechanical fan being the primary fan and the electric fan being the auxiliary fan for extra cooling. See Radiator (Cooling Fans) for more information. The Radiator is fed engine coolant by the water pump through radiator hoses.

Radiators use to be made of completely of metal. Modern radiators, except for special aluminum racing and aftermarket models, have aluminum cores with plastic end tanks. The change in Radiator construction is the primary reason why most dedicated radiator shops went out of business.


What Common Symptoms indicate that you may need to replace the Radiator?


  • Coolant Leaking (Depending on the car, it can be red, orange, green, pink, purple or blue)
  • Car is overheating. Water Temperature Gauge is higher than normal. Warning indicators in dash.
  • Low Coolant Light
  • Steam from engine compartment.
  • You are smelling an odd sweet like smell


How Important is the Radiator Service and Repair?


If you have coolant leaking or suspect a radiator failure, it is best to stop driving the car and have it immediately towed to a repair shop. Coolant is circulated through engine to absorb heat and then sent to the radiator where it is cooled by a fan. Modern engines are very sensitive to overheating. Poor circulation of coolant can result in expensive repairs such as blown head gaskets, cracked cylinder heads, or complete engine seizure.


General Repair or Service Procedure (NATEF Standards):

  • Pressure Test and inspect cooling system for leaks.
  • Remove radiator cooling fans and fan shroud.
  • Disconnect water hoses.
  • Remove and replace radiator.
  • Replace Thermostat (recommended).
  • Install new Reservoir (recommended) and Radiator Cap.
  • Fill with new coolant and bleed system.
  • Clear related engine codes
  • Test Drive car and review engine data, check for proper fan operation.
  • 2nd test drive and Check for proper temperature response.


Additional parts and labor that may be needed:

Depending on the engine design additional parts and labor may be required


Preventative Maintenance Recommendations:


Have your coolant system flushed with new coolant every 4 years or 40,000 miles. This will insure proper ph balance of the coolant and prevent internal corrosion of components and extend their life. Always use manufacturer OEM or recommended Coolant (Antifreeze). It is no longer ok to use green coolant for general replacement. Exotic metals and materials in modern motors require special chemicals to preserve their operational life, which can only be provided by the proper OEM coolant.


Sprint Motorsports takes pride in caring for our customers, and we are invigorated by the opportunity to provide competent and comprehensive automotive repair services. We are the leading auto repair, tuning, car service, automotive performance shop in San Jose and adjacent areas while providing you personalized, detailed, and friendly service. Our relationships are built on trust, communication, integrity, and commitment to our purpose; to be the best auto repair shop we can be.


We stand behind our work with a 2 year warranty on repair work!*

To schedule a cooling system service or any other car repair, major or minor services, please contact service@sprint-motorsports.com or 408-831-3730. We welcome you to stop by our auto repair shop located at 2099 S 10th Street, Unit 40, San Jose, Ca 95112.  If you have any questions about your car’s repair needs, performance, or maintenance, ask our friendly and expert staff for assistance.