How Does a Radiator Work?

There are little things in our car that we take for granted. For instance, do you even wonder how the car’s engine can still function under unreasonable hot weather? Or have you ever thought about how your precious vehicle doesn’t overheat and conk out after prolonged use? The answer is pretty simple really: All these functions are handled and maintained by your car’s radiator.


What makes up a Radiator?

According to Karim Rice, a writer for, a radiator is a kind of heat exchanger, the central part of an automobile’s cooling system. It is composed mainly of aluminum, as the material is both light and strong.

To better understand radiators, it is important to note that aluminum-made radiators carry 2,000 BTU (British Thermal Units) per hour, marking a 41% increase in contrast to radiator tanks made with brass. In short, aluminum radiators cool your car faster and better. Aluminum also has high thermal conductivity, meaning it absorbs heat better than most metals. It is these facts that make aluminum the standard for radiator production.


So how does a radiator work?

The coolant in your engine plays a vital role in preventing your car from overheating. As the engine continuously works to power the car, the heat in the engine warms the coolant. When the coolant becomes too hot, the thermostat in the engine signals a valve to open so the coolant moves from the engine to the radiator.

Now, when the coolant goes inside the radiator, it passes through aluminum tubes that are set parallel to the device. The pathway of the tubes is layered with fins that allows the heat from the fluid to escape faster. Adding to the cooling effect is the mesh that is found near the end of the radiator. After the liquid is initially cooled by the fins, it passes through the mesh where a fan in the engine makes the coolant cold again.

Once the coolant has regained its original temperature, it exits the radiator, passes through a water pump, and is pumped out into the engine again, ready to regulate the temperature and keep your car in good overall running condition.

A car radiator has one of the most interesting and important functions of a car: engine temperature regulation. Without a properly working engine, your car is as good as useless, ready to be sent to the junkyard to collect rust and dust. Be sure to regularly maintain your radiator to keep your car cool and running. Drive Safely!