4 causes of radiator crack and how to prevent it

Updated Apr 06, 2021 | Same topic: Handy Maintenance Tips

Reduce the risk of experiencing engine overheat.

What is a radiator crack?

The basic function of a radiator is quite simple. It is installed in automobiles to cool down your engine with the use of coolants. So if your car’s radiator is damaged or cracked, then it wouldn’t cool down your engine causing overheat and ultimately causing an unfortunate engine failure.

A car radiator can last for up to eight years if maintained properly. If you daily drive your car, then that should be around 200,000 to 220,000 km. However, the life span of a car radiator can be shortened instantaneously if you don’t repair cracks as soon as possible.

A radiator crack is caused by various factors. Sometimes, it is inevitable so you should always monitor your car’s temperature gauge as it will help you determine if there are cracks present or not. To extend the life of your car radiator, here are four common causes of this type of failure and some ways you can do to prevent this from happening.

An overheating engine

Radiator cracks will result in engine overheat

4 causes of a radiator crack

Cause #1: Dirty coolants

Dirty coolants can form rust or corrosion within the internal parts of your car radiator. Once these are formed, it can cause cracks or holes where coolants will escape or leak. A leaking coolant issue is one of the worst problems you will encounter in car ownership since coolants are essential in keeping the engine running in good condition.

It is recommended that you replace your engine coolants every three years. Some cars may exceed three years, while some should replace it around the second year. With a new and clean coolant, you can assure that your engine will run at operating temperature and prevent radiator cracks.

>>> Related: 'Is it safe to use water as car radiator coolant?' [Newbie Guide]

Cause #2 Debris

If you drive on off-roads frequently, then you are increasing the chances of encountering radiator cracks. Rocks or other road debris can hit your radiator at high speeds which over time will form cracks. What’s worse is that your radiator fan could also be damaged from the impact so you have to replace or repair two essential components.

As such, it is recommended that you take precautionary measures while driving especially on highways. If you notice that the road you are driving on is full of debris, then avoid tailgating the car in front of you. This way, you will prevent debris from flying into your car radiator.

A dirty radiator

Clean your radiator to avoid cracks and damages

Cause #3: Extreme weather conditions

In areas with high temperatures, the car radiators are having a hard time cooling themselves which causes overheating. An abnormally hot radiator is more prone to unwanted failures such as cracking or forming holes where coolants will escape or leak.

Areas with cold temperatures can cause radiator cracks as well. Some coolants tend to freeze and expand inside the internal parts of a radiator which results in damage. If you are not going to use your car for a long time, it is recommended that you park in a well-conditioned room to avoid radiator cracks.    

Cause #4: Accidents

After a car gets into an accident, it tends to release smoke from the hood. The smoke comes from the engine overheating if it is not turned off. Any force that can move a car radiator out of its place can cause cracks or holes resulting in engine overheating. Even frequent high-speed runs on road bumps or excessive vibrations can cause radiator cracks. As such, you should always drive depending on the road condition your car is on.

A car's instrument gauge cluster

Monitor your car's temperature gauge to avoid radiator cracks

Cause #5: Faulty radiator fan

The purpose of a radiator fan is to pull air through the car radiator for cooling the coolants. If your car has a faulty radiator fan, then it will likely cause an engine to overheat as air is not directed to the radiator. This ultimately results in radiator cracks and other radiator issues.

Fortunately, radiator fans tend to last long enough before you decide to buy a new car. The usual problems of a radiator fan occur when debris hits it badly or when sensors go faulty. To keep your engine cool, check your radiator fan from time to time. It makes a noticeable noise when it is operating.

How to prevent radiator cracks?

The best way to prevent radiator cracks is to replace your coolants every recommended period. By doing this, the internal parts of your car radiator will not form rust or corrosion from overdue coolants. Remember that the replacement of new coolants is less expensive than replacing the whole radiator system.

Pouring coolants in a car

Replace your car's coolant every two to three years

Always check if your car radiator is leaking. You will notice colored liquid coming out of your car after parking it overnight if the radiator is leaking. The color will depend on your chosen coolants. But the most common color of coolants is green, then turns to black after registering long mileages.

Determine whether the coolant leak is coming from your car’s radiator. An engine should be dry especially after being parked overnight so any wet surface means that the crack could come from there. If this happened, have your car radiator repaired or replaced depending on how much damage it accumulated to avoid engine heating.

A car leaking coolants

Check for leaks to determine if your car has radiator cracks

You can also prevent radiator cracks by monitoring your car’s temperature gauge from time to time. The gauge should sit in the middle to assure a normal temperature operation, which should be around 93 degrees Celsius. If it starts going above the mid-point, then you should check if your car has radiator cracks to avoid further damage.

FAQs about radiator cracks

Q: Why do radiators crack?

A radiator crack is caused by various factors including the presence of dirty coolants within the engine cooling system.

Q: What will a radiator crack do to my car?

A radiator crack will cause your car’s engine to overheat.

Q: How long does a car radiator last?

A car radiator should last for more than eight years, depending on how it is maintained.

Q: What is the normal engine operation temperature?

The normal operating temperature of the engine of your car should be around 93 degrees Celsius.

Q: How often should I replace my car’s coolants?

It is recommended that you replace your car’s coolants every two to three years.

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Rex Sanchez

Rex Sanchez


Rex Sanchez grew up in Saudi Arabia where he saw and got into the automotive scene. He started his career for an aviation company in the said region, writing about turbines and rotors which are later distributed for educational purposes. And now, he joined Philkotse.com as a staff writer. Currently, he is the youngest on the team and is more than ready to grow in the field.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rexsanchez09

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