Basic Understanding of How Does a Car Radiator Work



One of the most important yet undervalued automotive part is the car radiator. As a matter of fact, the majority of car owners don’t even have a basic understanding of the working of a car radiator. They hardly ever check for any signs of car radiator related problems which costs them big in the long run, in the form of serious engine damage & subsequent expensive repairs.

If you are a car owner, it’s very much essential that you at least acquire a basic understanding of the working of a car radiator. So today, let’s do just that! First, let’s get to know the engine cooling system which incorporates the car radiator.

Engine Cooling System

A car engine is tasked to burn fuel as well as produce friction to provide your car with the juice it needs to run. In doing this, a lot of heat gets built up in the car engine. This enormous amount of heat needs to be veered away from the engine, or else it could result in the pistons in the engine seizing up & snapping in two, and the engine breaking down completely.

To prevent this massive damage, car engines possess multi-part cooling systems. This constitutes an exhaust system, through which heat can escape. There is also oil, which lubricates the engine parts & lessens the amount of friction. Despite the presence of the exhaust system & oil, car engines can get hot rather fast and once a certain temperature is hit, the rest of the cooling system kicks in.

When the Radiator Gets to Work

  1. A thermostat present at the front of the engine detects when the engine reaches an alarming temperature. This prompts the release of water & coolant, both of which are contained in the radiator.
  2. This combination of water and coolant picks up the heat produced by burned fuel & engine friction. This liquid combination is then transferred back into the radiator itself. The surface area of the radiator is large enough to let the coolant cool down. Also, a fan located near the radiator further assists in cooling the coolant.
  3. Besides the internal cooling mechanism, air from outside the car is also drawn in via vents to render additional cooling power. Once the coolant gets cooled down enough, it can then once again be sent back into the engine to draw more heat.


Overall speaking, the car radiator plays a crucial role in discarding heat from the engine, thus ensuring the proper functioning of the engine without any risk of an abrupt breakdown.

Having said that, multiple car radiator related issues can crop up over a period of time which can prevent the cooling system from functioning in an optimal manner.

You can check out the 6 major car radiator problems that are commonly ignored by car owners in this blog post:

If you are one of those car owners who want to acquire an in-depth understanding of the working of a car radiator, then we have written a separate blog post on that. You can check it out by clicking here: