Symptoms of a Faulty Radiator Cap

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The radiator cap looks simple and is often overlooked but it is a vital part of your car’s cooling system. It keeps the radiator sealed and regulates the pressure inside by releasing and drawing coolant from the expansion tank.

Read: Cruise Control: When To Use And When Not To Use

A faulty radiator cap leads to failure of the car’s cooling system to cool the engine causing it to overheat and get damaged. These are the common signs you should look out for that would indicate a bad radiator:

  • Leaking or low coolant: Visible liquid pooling under your car, white streaks on the radiator and pipes, and finding yourself topping up your coolant often are all indicators the car is leaking coolant. This is possibly because there is something wrong with the radiator cap.
  • Overflowing coolant expansion (reservoir) tank: The radiator cap releases the coolant to go to the expansion tank when it expands. A bad cap releases the coolant into the expansion tank too quickly causing it to overflow.
  • Burst or collapsed radiator hose: The radiator hose connects the radiator to the expansion tank. A faulty cap can cause either too low or too high pressure inside the hose that will cause it to either collapse or burst.
  • Billowing steam from the engine: A bad cap causes the coolant to boil and evaporate. You will see steam escaping from your engine.
  • Overheating engine: If the temperature reading on your dashboard shows a significant raise, the engine is overheating which is another indicator of a faulty cap.

How to inspect the radiator cap (make sure the engine is off and has cooled completely or you risk getting burned):

  • Pop the hood
  • Visually inspect the top of the cap and the area around it for signs of damage and coolant leakages.
  • Unscrew the radiator cap and turn it over
  • Check to see if the spring moves freely and there is no debris or corrosion

Search for replacement caps, radiators and other engine components with AutoMate, see how.

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