Here are 5 Signs Your Radiator is Clogged or Bad (Replacement Price)

Radiator is the most important component. It is important to know how your radiator works, and where it is located.

Continue reading if your radiator is faulty. We’ll cover the five most common signs that you have a defective radiator, how it works, where it’s at, and how much it costs to replace.

When you’re done reading, you’ll know for sure if your vehicle’s radiator is the problem – and have you well on your way to getting repairs.

Moreover, just because you have a radiator leak or an overheating engine doesn’t mean it’s for sure the radiator. We’ll break down each symptom of a bad or clogged radiator and walk you through everything you need to know below.

Índice de Contenido
  1. Bad Radiator or Clogged Symptoms
    1. 1. The High Temperature Gauge
    2. 2. Coolant Leaks
    3. 3. Radator fins damaged
    4. 4. Fluid Discoloration
    5. 5. Visible Corrosion
  2. The function of the radiator
  3. Radiator location
  4. Costs of replacing a radiator
  5. Questions about Radiators
    1. Is your radiator faulty?
    2. How does a radiator affect the performance of your vehicle?
    3. Can you drive safely with a bad radiator
    4. Is a radiator good for a long time?

Bad Radiator or Clogged Symptoms

Overheating is the most obvious sign of a clogged or bad radiator. There may be coolant leaks under the car, or fluctuations in your temperature gauge.

This is a detailed listing of common signs of a bad, or clogged radiator.

1. The High Temperature Gauge

Overheating Engine E1609789863111

If you’re watching your temperature gauge get precariously high, that’s a sign that something is not working as it should. If the engine gets too hot, it’ll just shut off, which means that the problem has progressed to something a little more serious.

An overheating engine could be caused by a number of things, including a defective thermostat, a damaged fan or coolant leaks. You’ll need to do a little more troubleshooting to pinpoint the problem.

Reported: 9 Reasons Your Car's Engine Heats Up

2. Coolant Leaks

Car Leak

Leakage is one of the biggest problems associated with a radiator that's not working properly. While you’ll usually see leaks underneath your vehicle, that’s not guaranteed. Take a look around your radiator – if you notice any white streaks or coolant puddles, then your radiator has a leak and needs repairs.

RELATED : How to fix a coolant leak

3. Radator fins damaged

Damaged Radiator Fins

A damaged radiator fin is another problem. The radiator sits at the front end of your car, and the fins can be easily damaged. While a few smashed fins won’t make your engine overheat, the more smashed fins you have, the less coolant flow you have in your radiator.

Additionally, smashed fins mean there’s a higher possibility that you have a leak.

4. Fluid Discoloration

Corrosion is one of the most destructive factors for radiators. While corrosion shouldn’t be happening inside your cooling system, as the coolant wears down the likelihood of corrosion building up increases.

Since the corrosion is on the inside of your radiator, you won’t be able to see it, but it will discolor the coolant. Try a coolant flush if it’s old coolant, but if it’s relatively new and already severely discolored, you have significant corrosion in your system.

To see if the radiator can be flushed, but you need to prepare as it might need to be replaced.

5. Visible Corrosion

Visible corrosion is often the first sign that you’re about to have a more significant problem. You may have a blown seal, worn-down fins or other issues as a result. While a little corrosion isn’t a huge deal, you should get your radiator looked at by a certified mechanic if there is an excessive amount.

The function of the radiator


A radiator is an important part of your cooling system. Your coolant heats up as it passes through your engine. If you don't have a cooling system, the heat will keep going until your engine shuts down.

The radiator is an integral component of the cooling system. You can see the tiny metal fins that allow coolant to travel from one radiator side to the next. It becomes more efficient to cool the coolant by thinning it as it passes through the fins.

The engine fan helps your vehicle do this by allowing air to naturally flow through it while you drive. This is why the manufacturer puts your vehicle’s radiator at the front of your vehicle.

Radiator location

Change Radiator

One of the easiest components you will find in your vehicle is the radiator. It’s always located at the front of your vehicle – that way, it can utilize airflow as you drive to aid in the cooling process.

Typically, you’ll have your vehicle’s bumper/grill area, behind that you’ll have the fan, and behind that, you’ll have the radiator.

The condenser and the radiator look remarkably similar, but they’re not hard to tell apart once you know what you’re looking at. Two ways can you tell your condenser and radiator apart. The condenser will be located in front of your radiator. A second reason is that the core of your heater may be much thinner than your radiator.

When you’re locating your vehicle’s radiator, simply look for the larger of the two components and you’ll be in good shape. However, if you’re trying to gain access to your radiator you might run into problems, as it’s often tightly packed between other components.

Costs of replacing a radiator

The cost of replacing a radiator is typically between $550 to $800 depending on its model and labor costs. Although this can be costly, a mechanic will often fix many radiator issues.

If one fin has a tiny leak, an authorized repair shop may be able weld it shut. It will save you lots of money. For about $100, you can have your radiator flushed by a mechanic.

Just keep in mind that if the flush doesn’t work, you might be in the same predicament and have to replace your radiator.

If you’re mechanically inclined and are trying to save a little money, you can replace your radiator yourself. While typically a little more involved, an aftermarket radiator typically costs between $100 and $200.

When you add in the price of the new coolant that you’ll need – you’ll likely spend around $250 to complete the repairs yourself. You can expect to pay a bit more for OEM parts than an aftermarket part.

Questions about Radiators

Is your radiator faulty?

A bad radiator could cause excessive heat in your vehicle. It’s also common for the radiator to start leaking, so if you see any coolant leaking under your car, it could be a sign that the radiator is bad. Clogged radiators can also cause a fluctuating coolant temperature.

How does a radiator affect the performance of your vehicle?

The radiator does not affect a car’s performance per se. However, if your coolant temperature overheats, some modern car’s engine control module can limit the performance of the engine to prevent it from overheating, which can be fatal to an engine.

Can you drive safely with a bad radiator

A bad radiator is dangerous and it should not be used. Overheating can cause engine damage or blow out the head gasket. So if your radiator is bad, it’s best to get it fixed as soon as possible.

Is a radiator good for a long time?

The car’s radiator is made to last the life of a car. It can last between 8 and 10 years depending on how well you maintain it and the climate in which you live.

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