The radiator in your vehicle is used for cooling the internal combustion of the engine. Coolant is passed through the engine block, the heat is absorbed, and then fed into the radiator. The hot coolant is passed through the radiator, which cools it down and dissipates the heat. Without the radiator, the engine could overheat causing damage to the vehicle.
Some things to watch out for include:
Coolant puddle: One sign of a cracked radiator is leaking coolant. The coolant fluid is red or green in color, so if you see a puddle of this under your vehicle, contact a mechanic as soon as possible. The coolant is toxic to both humans and animals so be careful if you have small kids or pets. Do not drive with leaking coolant.
Overheating engine: Since the radiator cools the engine, a cracked radiator may not cool the engine like it is supposed to. This can cause the engine heat to rise, and eventually the vehicle will overheat. If your vehicle overheats, pull over to the side of the road right away as driving with an overheating engine can cause more damage to your engine.
Constant need to refill: If you constantly have to put coolant in your vehicle, this may be a sign you have a cracked radiator and it is leaking. The coolant needs to be refilled on a regular basis, but if you are filling it up more than normal, this may be a sign something is wrong with your radiator. You should have your coolant system checked before you continue to drive.
Replace your radiator: If your radiator is cracked, it may need to be replaced depending on the severity of the damage. A mechanic will be able to let you know how bad the crack is, and whether they will be able to repair it or if the entire radiator will need to be replaced.
Keep your coolant fresh: To keep your radiator in good working condition, change the coolant on a regular basis. If you do not change your coolant enough, the radiator can start to corrode and crack over time. This can cause the radiator to leak and the engine to overheat.
A cracked radiator can be dangerous to drive with because the engine may overheat. A cracked radiator does not allow the proper amount of coolant to reach the engine, which causes the overheating. Contact the professionals at YourMechanic to make the correct diagnosis and to repair the radiator properly.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Is it Safe to Drive With a Cracked Radiator? and was authored by Valerie Johnston.