How To Check Radiator Flow


When your car is hot, that means your engine or motors are working hard. As such, it can become difficult to determine if there is a problem until you have checked out the radiator fluid level.

If you notice that the color of the liquid is an unusual shade of yellow or orange, this could indicate something is wrong. Fortunately, checking for proper flow of coolant in your vehicle is not too complicated!

By learning how to check radii fluid levels, you will be able to identify whether there is a serious issue at hand before trying to start your car. Luckily, we have gathered some helpful information here for you to refer to!

Hopefully you will never need to check cooling system fluid levels, but just knowing how to do so can help save a life someday – yours or someone else’s. So what are we waiting for? Let us continue!

How to Check Cooling System Fluid Levels

Reminder: Before attempting to turn your car on, make sure to completely shut down the engine first by pulling the choke (if applicable) and switching off the ignition. This will prevent any unnecessary pumping of gas which may damage the engine due to over-heating.

Now that everything is shutdown, you can begin testing the fluids! While doing this makes sense even if the car is cold, it becomes more important as the weather heats up.

Look for a hairline crack

how to check radiator flow

There are several ways to check if your car has cool radiator fluid or hot liquid. The easiest way is by looking at the color of the fluid. If it is red, then that means there is some problem somewhere!

If you look closely, you can also tell how much fluid is in your vehicle. It will have a gauge with a needle that goes up as the engine gets warmer. When the needle reaches its highest position, that is when you should start talking to professionals about what needs to be done next.

However, before they do anything else, they must make sure that nothing could cause the overheating situation to get worse. One of these things could be blockage due to water or debris. Another possible cause may be damage to an intake hose or pipe.

So now, let’s talk about one important part of your car: the radiator. This is where all the fluids come together. Once again, we will go over some tips on how to check the flow of heat-carrying liquids in your car.

Push down on the radiator

how to check radiator flow

When checking for hot spots, you will want to make sure you do not press too hard with your hand. If needed, use a piece of paper as a masking material to prevent thermal overloads!

By this stage, the engine has already spent enough time heating up the coolant so it is ready to lose heat through the heater core and rad hose. What we are looking for now is if the temperature drops slightly and then slowly rises back up when pressed. This shows that there may be obstruction in the cooling system, but only slight blockage.

You can also feel around the hoses to see if they seem more rigid or soft. The same goes for the radiator cap – does it sit naturally or does it have to be pried open? If it doesn’t close all the way, check whether there is still liquid in the reservoir. In most cases, there should be just a few droplets left inside.

This article really focused on how to test cold start performance and general fluid levels in the vehicle. For additional information, try our guide about what fluids need changing and how.

Look for bubbles

how to check radiator flow

The size of the bubble is an important indicator of radiator flow. As mentioned before, it takes time for cool water to completely evaporate after being heated by your engine.

As you pull off of any highway or street, there’s a chance that some steam will be coming out of your car’s tailpipe. This is because the hot fluid in the pipe still has liquid escaping it even though it’s no longer boiling.

If you look closely at this white vapor, you may notice that it has tiny drops falling from it like rain. These drops are actually small pieces of liquid that have separated from the rest of the droplet.

This shows that there is still some fluid leaving the boiler, which means that the radiator isn’t working effectively. If you see lots of drop sizes, then try pumping up your vehicle’s cooling system pressure to make sure that all of the fluid can escape.

You want to make sure that you don’t just turn the pump on, however.

Use a heat gun to check for leaks

how to check radiator flow

The best way to test your radiator flow is with an easy tool: A heat gun! They are very affordable, typically cost around $20-30 at any store that has them.

They work by emitting infrared light which is then reflected back off of water molecules in the form of ripples or waves. The faster the wave, the more fluid there is.

You can use this tool to determine if there are leaky hoses anywhere on your car. Simply place it next to each hose entrance and see how quickly the waves stop. You want to make sure they slow down considerably before you pull out the brush.

This works because as the engine heats up, the liquid in the pipes becomes less dense and thus takes longer to cool down. If it stays hot for too long, then some of the liquid will vaporize, creating a gap between the hose and pipe where air can get in. This cuts off cooling surface area and can cause overheating and potential damage to the vehicle.

Put a wet cloth on the radiator

how to check radiator flow

The first way to check if your car is cooling properly is by putting a slightly moist, lukewarm towel over the radiator. If the coolant can be seen dripping from the top of the radiator, then it has penetrated the heat exchanger and is flowing correctly!

The reason this method works is because when liquid gets into a cold element (like the water cooled cylinder head or block), it begins to freeze before it could escape. So there’s some of it that freezes, thus creating more weight, which makes the fluid heavier so you can feel it running down under the hood.

This doesn’t always work though because sometimes the engine overheats and no longer produces enough heat to melt any residual ice, making it seem like the radiator isn’t working. Also, very hot engines do not produce much steam, therefore this test cannot be used in those cases.

General tips: make sure the hose going to the radiator are clean and dry, and that none of the brake fluid has seeped out anywhere else in the vehicle.

Use the proper radiating fluid

how to check radiator flow

There are two types of fluids that can be used as radiator coolant, gel-type or liquid-type. Gel type liquids require special equipment to check for radiaiton before you use them because you have to mix them together first.

Liquid-type coolants do not need this extra step so they are more readily available at automotive repair facilities. Unfortunately, some companies add too much water to their products which is why it is important to test your fluid with a kit!

Some brands will tell you how to check your car’s cooling system but there is no universal way to determine if your vehicle needs new fluid. Therefore, we will go over several tests that can prove if your current coolant has dried up and what kind of fluid should be changed into.

Make sure the radiator is not blocked

how to check radiator flow

One of the first things you should check if your car is running hot is whether or not the radiator has enough coolant in it. If it does, then great! You have nothing to worry about.

However, if there isn’t as much fluid in the radium as there should be, then something may be wrong. When the engine gets warm, liquid changes into a gas, so make sure there is at least 1-2 inches (2.5–5cm) of fluid in the radiater before checking the other factors listed here.

If your car is very cold to touch when using the temperature probe, then start pumping the heat source (the motor) up slightly until the temperature reads normal. This will ensure that the engine doesn’t overheat because it can take a while for the cooling system to work properly.

How to check radiator flow

You can use your own intuition to determine whether or not the radiator is flowing well. If the vehicle is pulling to one side, then look down towards the ground to see if there are any clogs. Or, try moving the hose up or down – if it goes up, then it might indicate there is no fluid in the tank.

Check the radiator fins for damage

how to check radiator flow

The next thing you should check is the fin position of your radiator. Are they close together? If so, it may be because there’s not much space between them.

This could indicate that the car has low fluid levels or something is blocking the flow out of the radiator. You might also notice some color change in the metal radiators. This can sometimes mean red hot liquid is leaking from within the engine compartment!

You would need to look closely at the cars hood to see if anything was obscuring the radiator. For example, if there are droplets coming off the roof, then something must have wetted the vehicle down recently.

Also make sure the hose leading away from the engine does not appear crinkled up or kinky. This could signify poor circulation and cooling efficiency.

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