Top Ten Radiator Problems for Older Vehicles

Typically when we think of older vehicles, we think of the classic cars from the 50s, 60s and 70s. However, when we are talking about older vehicles we really mean any vehicle older than five years old. At five years old, a driver usually starts to notice mechanical problems more frequently. For instance, the vehicle’s engine may run slightly hotter than before, the cooling system may be blowing hot air, and leaking liquids from somewhere (not sure where).


Quanz Auto Body in Albuquerque, New Mexico shares the top ten problems that face older vehicles when it comes to their radiator.

Most common car radiator repairs in older vehicles

This list breaks down the most common repairs we see for older vehicle radiators in no particular order:

1. Failed Thermostat – The thermostat isn’t necessarily part of the radiator, but it does control how much coolant can flow into and out of the radiator. When this fails, the car overheats quickly and the engine is unable to maintain operating temperature, therefore causing damage to the radiator.

2. Rusting – If rust ends up settling in your radiator, it can begin to eat away at the metal, slowly hurting the radiator’s capabilities before finally ceasing to function.

3. Bad Hoses – Hoses are prone to drying and cracking and need to be checked regularly. When they do start to show these signs of wear and tear, a broken radiator may be in the near future. By having these maintained and in good working condition, you are preventing future radiator issues.

4. Leaks – This type of repair is harder to locate and fix compared to problems with hoses. The best way to know this may be the issue with your radiator is to look for bubbles or steam coming from the radiator. This can sometimes be patched, but is best left to the professionals at Quanz Auto Body for repair.

5. Malfunctioning Fan – Most modern vehicles use an electric fan that pulls the air through the radiator. Older vehicles, however, do not rely on an electric fan system. If your vehicle overheats when idle or in traffic, but runs fine on the highway, it could be your radiator fan that needs repair.

6. Failed Water Pump – Much like a failed or malfunctioning thermostat, a damaged water pump affects your cooling system which eventually leads to radiator disaster. Always have this maintained and replaced regularly. Quanz Auto Body in Albuquerque can do this for you and more!

7. Cooling System Problems – By now, you can see that your cooling system is critical to keeping your vehicle’s radiator running at optimum performance. Obstructions can block the cooling passages making it difficult for air to travel efficiently through the radiator and engine causing overheating. If air is trapped in the cooling system, your car may run hot.

8. Blown Seams – Vehicles that have been using the same radiator for years can experience having blown seams and overall wear and tear on seams.

9. Ignition Wire Issues – Faulty ignition wires can create an electrochemical reaction in the tubes of your radiator, destroying the unit.

10. Epoxy Failure – Some older vehicles have radiators comprised of high quality hardening materials. After four to five years of use, the epoxy begins to wear out. By having your radiator checked regularly, you can prevent this from becoming a more costly repair.

Quanz Auto Body knows that preventing your radiator from ever going out is close to impossible, but by receiving regular maintenance and checks on your engine, hoses, tubes and more, you can prevent having to get costly repairs. If the damage to your radiator is beyond repair, our ASE certified technicians can replace the part(s) using high quality care to keep your vehicles running efficiently and at optimal performance.