Do you get the sense that your car is getting a bit hot? You may be driving down the road on a sweltering, summer's day and notice that the temperature gauge is climbing up inexorably. Strangely, you may also notice a sweet smell — something that you've never encountered before — and wonder what that may be. The bad news is that you have a leak from your coolant system and the culprit could be the radiator itself. What is your next course of action?
Checking What Is Wrong
As soon as it is safe, you should pull over to the side for further inspection. It's never a good idea to drive for a long distance when the temperature is elevated, as this could cause additional damage to the engine. When you open the bonnet, be careful not to scald yourself anywhere, as many of the component parts could be very hot to the touch.
Out Goes the Radiator
Have a look at the back of the radiator. If you can see evidence of dampness or even traces of green, which would be the coolant, then your radiator is compromised and will need to be replaced.
If you are quite good with your hands, it is possible to attempt this yourself. When you are back at your garage, the first thing to do is to let everything cool down. This would be a good time for you to buy a new radiator and while you are at it, pick up a replacement thermostat.
You should begin by disconnecting all the pipes that connect various parts of the system to the radiator. You may also want to disconnect the automatic transmission cooler, which is typically placed right next to the radiator. Make sure that you tie the pipes to something nearby to avoid getting any dirt in the system.
Next, have a look at the fan. This may be attached to the radiator housing, or it could be sitting by itself. Either way, it's going to be very close to the radiator and you may well have to remove this component as well. If so, you will need to make sure that the battery is disconnected, as this is likely an electrically-powered item.
Locate the drainage plug on the bottom of the radiator and unscrew it, making sure you have a receptacle to collect all the water and fluid. Once you are happy that the radiator is fully drained, you can unbolt it and remove the offending item. To replace everything, you will need to reverse the process outlined, being very careful to put everything back the way that it was.
Outsourcing the Job
This can be a fiddly job for even the most experienced and you may not feel confident in tackling it yourself. It's better in this case to get in touch with a mechanic for car radiator repair.