Automobile Radiator Is a Key Component of the Cooling System
The main responsibility of the car radiator is to cool the mixture of antifreeze and water that circulates throughout the entire engine. When the engine is running, it becomes very hot, and the mixture of antifreeze and water, called coolant, absorbs some of the heat as it circulates through the internal passages in the engine with the help of a water pump. The coolant runs in a closed, pressurized system, and when the engine is at normal operating temperature, the temperature usually exceeds 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
As the coolant passes through the radiator at the front of the vehicle, cooler outside air flows through the grille towards the radiator to lower the temperature of the coolant, which then recirculates back to the engine to absorb more heat. A thermostat-controlled electric fan opens to draw in more outside air through the car radiator, for example, when the car is parked in hot weather.
This continuous circulation of coolant from the car radiator through hoses to the engine is necessary to prevent the engine from overheating. It also prevents moving parts from warping or fusing together due to overheating. A leak in the radiator, hoses, or engine or a damaged water pump can cause significant damage as there is not enough circulating coolant to dissipate heat. On some vehicles, the radiator has an internal oil tank for cooling automatic transmission fluid that circulates through a separate cooler from the engine coolant.
Temperature regulation of the car radiator
Like radiators in homes with hot water heating systems, the radiator in a vehicle is designed to dissipate heated air. The core of the car radiator is thin metal fins, usually made of aluminum, which allows hot air to escape and cools external air flow. Typically, a thermostat near the radiator monitors the temperature to regulate the flow of coolant through the engine. However, unlike home heating systems, this type of thermostat does not allow the driver to set the temperature. It opens and closes automatically based on the temperature of the coolant.
The pressure cap on top of the radiator increases the boiling temperature of the coolant. When the coolant expands due to heating, a valve on the cap opens, allowing some of the coolant to enter a recovery tank connected to the radiator by a small hose. When the coolant temperature drops, such as when the engine is shut off, another valve allows the coolant to flow back to the radiator.
Safety measures for the car radiator
Do not remove the radiator cap when the system is hot and the engine is running and pressurized, as the coolant temperature is usually above 200 degrees. When the engine is cooling through the overflow tank, coolant should be added, which has a mark indicating the level of coolant.