While radiators aren’t the most complex or expensive parts of your truck, replacing them won’t be a walk in the park. You might have to ask a professional to do that for you, and that will cost extra. The price of a brand-new unit is 100 US dollars give or take, and that’s without the mechanic’s labor fee. So, the biggest question here is – What can you do to take care of your radiator?
Maintenance is very important for any component of the cooling system. You need to make sure the hoses are intact, the coolant isn’t contaminated and constantly flush the liquids. That’s just a part of the maintenance routine. I know it can be a bit boring and time-consuming, but the results will be worth it. Let’s get into that right now!
What’s the Average Lifespan?
Before we check out the most effective ways to make our radiators more durable and dependable, it’s important to know about the average lifecycle of modern-day radiators. Now, at the very least, a decent aftermarket unit should serve you for three years. Even if you’re constantly pushing the engine to the limit and making the entire cooling system work really hard, the radiator will easily hold up for +/- 1000 days.
And if you invested in the Best Cummins Radiator and are taking proper care of it, the life expectancy will be 8-10 years, or even more. A quick note: if you don’t like to measure the span in years, you can expect a third-party radiator to last for up to 100-120K miles.
Alright, now that we know the average lifespan, it’s time to talk about the things you can do that will greatly increase life expectancy and save you money in the long run.
#1: Keep the Coolant Levels High
Making sure the radiator is never low on the coolant is the first step. When there isn’t enough liquid to keep the engine cool, you’ll run the risk of overheating (and damaging) the engine. So, make a rule of constantly checking the antifreeze levels. And remember: always let the motor cool down before touching the Cummins radiator cap. I recommend checking the fluid levels twice a year.
I do it once in early summer and then run another routine check in mid/late autumn. If you notice that the radiator is constantly low on coolant, even though you do fill it up regularly, there might be a problem with the hoses or the gaskets.
#2: Flush out the Liquids Regularly
To ensure your radiator is always performing at its best, regular liquid flushes should be a part of the routine. The experts recommend doing these once every two, or three years, which equals 30-45K miles. This depends on how old/new your truck or SUV is, what kind of an engine it’s got under the hood, the climate, the roads, your driving style – a lot of things. The owner’s manual will help you figure this one out.
Having trouble finding it? Then contact your vehicle’s manufacturer and ask them to provide guidance. Flushing the coolant allows you to get rid of tiny metallic parts, rust, deposits, and everything else that builds over time and prevents the coolant from flowing properly. That, in turn, can also lead to engine failure due to overheating.
#3: Keep an Eye on the Engine’s Temperature
Every single car out there has an engine temp gauge. If the needle is going higher than it normally does, that’s a clear sign that the radiator isn’t performing the way it should. Don’t postpone this: check the radiator and the entire cooling system. Don’t worry: at this stage, you won’t have to unscrew anything or disconnect any cables. Check the engine and the hoses: do you see any coolant residue anywhere? Or maybe you smell that sweet coolant smell?
If the answer is yes to both questions, I highly recommend running a thorough inspection. Drip stains under the truck/SUV are also a sign of a malfunctioning radiator.
Common Radiator Issues
And here’s a list of the most common problems that modern-day drivers have to deal with. The rule of thumb here is simple: the sooner you fix these issues, the longer the radiator will serve you. Sometimes, it’s pretty hard to notice that something’s wrong with the radiator, though, which is why you need to always perform regular checks.
As I mentioned earlier, leakage is a very common problem with radiators. The seals, gaskets, and hoses tend to leak sometimes, no matter how cheap or expensive the cooling system is. And the #1 reason for that is deterioration. So, make sure nothing’s worn out or damaged, as that can lead to undesired consequences. The best thing about worn-out parts – they don’t take much effort to replace.
Plus, a brand-new component won’t leave your wallet empty. Don’t postpone this, though: have whatever’s malfunctioning replaced as soon as possible to avoid costly repairs later.
#2: A Rusty Coolant
We already talked about the importance of performing regular flushing of the antifreeze to ensure the Cummins radiator is working the way it should. Rust is the biggest enemy of any cooling system, as it dramatically reduces its efficiency, “choking” the ducts and causing the engine to work under pressure and at extremely high temperatures. So, it’s critical that you flush the system thoroughly and don’t leave any residue/buildup.
Because if you do, even the most expensive and fresh coolant will get rusty and clogged in no time.
#3: Hose Problems
In many ways, the hoses are doing all the heavy lifting: they carry the coolant to the engine and then bring the heated liquids back into the radiator. Now, the upper hose connects directly to the radiator, while the lower one runs to the engine’s water pump. Hoses are essentially a combination of synthetic materials and rubber. While this is a pretty sturdy and reliable combination, over time, they develop cracks.
The average lifespan of decent-quality hoses is five-six years or 60-70K miles. Obviously, if you notice any leaks, they should be replaced immediately.
#4: Issues with the Thermostat
Did you know that it’s the thermostat that regulates the flow of the coolant? That’s right, and if it’s malfunctioning, you’ll end up with less-than-ideal cooling for the engine. The easiest and most effective way to check this is to manually inspect the hoses. If the upper hose is way too hot, while the lower one is operating at a regular temperature, that means the thermostat needs to be replaced. Otherwise, the engine will overheat.