According to the National Automotive Radiator Repair Association (NASRA) of the U.S., the lifespan of the radiator has more to do with radiator leaks rather than with mileage. The environment plays a huge part in this area more than you could imagine. Factors such as heat, assorted debris and chemical reactions can cause radiators to erode and begin to leak. Spotting and recognizing these symptoms can save you time, money, and also help you avoid accidents.
I find that thinking of an active volcano helps me remember these symptoms better. As you know, active volcanoes have lava, and lava is a colored substance much like our first clue.
You don’t need a degree in auto mechanics to spot this first clue. If you can spot the presence of neon- colored, slimy fluid beneath your vehicle, this is a sign of a leak in your radiator. The color of your radiator fluid depends on the type you use but it would normally be yellow, orange, blue or red. It would often smell sweet and attracts small animals, but it is highly toxic.
Sometimes, when a volcano is ready to erupt, it rumbles or emits gases – much to the horror of the unsuspecting motorist.
Sights and Sounds
If your radiator hisses, sprays or gurgles, this is also a sign that it is leaking. You can hear these whether you’re inside the vehicle or outside. It can also look like a volcano when it emits white smoke. This means that the radiator fluid has spilled onto hot surfaces like the radiator or valve covers. Getting a “hot” reading from the temperature gauge could also mean that your radiator is leaking.
It would only be natural for a leaking radiator to disperse liquids in spots or puddles under the vehicle, in droplets on the underside of the hood or in the engine compartment and its various parts. If you spot any of these, contact your trusted mechanic to have your vehicle towed and repaired by the pros. Tinkering with these might cost you more than what you’ve bargained for.