What Are the Causes of a Busted Radiator?

by Bryan Cowing
itstillruns article image
bike engine image by Dumitrescu Ciprian from Fotolia.com

The radiator is the sweat gland of the engine. It cools the engine down when it is hot and keeps all the pieces smoothly running. The radiator contains coolant that is spread to the rest of engine. When something goes wrong with the radiator, it can be disastrous. In the worst case scenario, the lack of cooling will cause the pistons to fuse (melt) onto the chamber, causing the engine to halt. Fortunately, knowing the causes of a broken radiator can help decrease the chance of problems.


The first problem that can occur in a radiator is with the welding. The radiator is welded together, which forms "joints." It is possible for these joints to wear out and start leaking. Leaking joints usually come from extended periods of wear and tear. In other words, an older radiator is more likely to leak. Just a small leak in the joints will empty the fluid from the radiator, which causes the radiator to dry. This dryness rapidly breaks the joints down.

Cooling Fins

If the solder wears down or deteriorates, the fins can loosen. The fins are thin pieces of metal that carry heat to and from the core. Since they are so thin, they are more easily damaged by intense heat or cold. The thin metal fins are more likely to warp or bend because of heat and more likely to become brittle due to very cold weather.


Problems can also occur at the headers of the tube. Inside the radiator are curved metal tubes that draw heat out of the engine coolant. At the end of the tubes are headers that slowly allow the cooled liquid back into the engine. It is possible for these headers to collapse or rupture due to age or pressure from the coolant. A ruptured header will cause noticeable leaks from the radiator.

More Articles

article divider