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5 Signs Your Car Needs a Radiator Flush

As the temperatures outside begin heating up, you might start to worry about your car. The heat presents high risks for your vehicle—especially your battery and other engine components. To keep your engine protected from the heat, your vehicle requires fresh radiator fluid. So are you due for a radiator fluid flush? Here are five signs that you need this car service.

What Is a Radiator Fluid Flush?

So you might be wondering, “What is a radiator fluid flush?” Before we dive in, let’s take a closer look under the hood. Your radiator works to keep your engine cool and protected using a balanced freon (or coolant) solution. Over time, this radiator fluid can become depleted, contaminated, and ineffective—leaving your vehicle vulnerable to the heat.

Without your radiator (and fresh fluid), your engine can begin rusting, warping, and even failing entirely. So how do you keep your radiator working well? This vehicle component requires occasional radiator fluid flushes. During a radiator fluid flush, your mechanic will remove all of your old refrigerant and replenish your radiator with fresh fluid. 

1: High Engine Temperature Gauge

The temperature gauge on your dashboard is not referring to the outside temperature—but rather the temperature of your engine. When you see this meter rising or resting higher than usual, it is a sign that your radiator is not effectively cooling your engine. Moderately high heat is often a sign you are nearing radiator trouble. If you wait too long to get a radiator flush, your engine might begin overheating (more on this below).

2: Engine Overheating

When the temperature gauge mentioned above rises all the way—which may be indicated by a red zone in your meter—this is a sign your engine is overheating. In this case, you should pull over if possible to give your engine time to cool down. As you drive your vehicle to safety, consider turning off your AC and turning your heat on high. While this may seem counterintuitive and uncomfortable during the warmer weather, it gives your vehicle a way to release the heat building up in your engine. After your vehicle is safe to drive, you should bring it straight to a mechanic for a radiator fluid flush.

3: Your Car Smells like Maple Syrup

Your radiator is filled with coolant containing the compound ethylene glycol. Interestingly enough, ethylene glycol molecules resemble a part of sugar molecules. In fact, sugars can actually be converted to ethylene glycol using a nickel tungsten carbide chemical reaction—according to the Royal Society of Chemistry. As such, burning radiator fluid is known to put off a sugary smell that probably reminds you of pancakes. Many drivers describe this sweet sensation as smelling of maple syrup or butterscotch. 

While this reaction might sound sweet, it can be deadly for your engine. Burning radiator fluid means that your engine is rapidly losing the properties it needs to stay cool and protected. Sweet engine smells are a sign that you need a radiator flush.

4: White Engine Vapor or Orange/Green Fluid Leaks

It is a dangerously common myth that you can detect radiator fluid leaks by looking for a puddle under your engine. Refrigerant naturally enters a gas state at room temperature or above. As such, radiator fluid leaks will quickly evaporate away. However, you may catch a glimpse of your leaking refrigerant before it changes to its natural gas state. Refrigerant is orange or green-colored in its liquid state and a white vapor in its gas state.

5: Routine Maintenance Mileage

If you are seeing any signs of a needed radiator fluid flush, this indicates that a problem is already forming. It is best to get your radiator service completed before an issue can arise. When all else fails, you can determine your needed radiator fluid flush by your recommended service mileage. On average, most vehicles need a radiator flush every 50,000-70,000 miles—though you can find more information in your owner’s manual. 

If you are still not sure whether or not you are due for a radiator flush, visit a mechanic near you. Your mechanic can test the quality of your radiator fluid and check for signs of contamination—such as rust or flecks in your freon. 

Local Radiator Fluid Flushes at Chapel Hill Tire

Does your engine need fresh radiator fluid? The mechanics at Chapel Hill Tire here to help. We offer quick and affordable radiator fluid flushes to keep your engine protected this summer (check out our coupons here). Our mechanics proudly serve the greater Triangle area through our nine locations across Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Apex. You can make your radiator fluid flush appointment here online to get started today!

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