When it comes to finding a great deal on used car parts, securing a quality used car radiator can prove to be quite the score for any vehicle owner. Because demand for used car radiators is always extremely high, knowing what to look for when shopping for one can help ensure your engine stays cool and runs smoothly for many years to come.

But once a used car radiator is installed, it’s crucial to know all the ways you can keep it working in pristine condition. Understanding the part’s maintenance needs will help you avoid drastically overheating your engine and severely damaging your vehicle.

From proactive radiator repair work to coolant requirements, let’s take a look at five general maintenance tips for your used radiator.

1. Keep An Eye On Your Coolant

While it’s easy to forget about, failing to examine the coolant levels in your radiator could spell engine trouble when you least expect it. You’ll want to keep your coolant level within the range denoted on the coolant reservoir so your radiator and engine have enough coolant to operate safely. At the very least, you should check your fluid levels and top them up whenever you perform an oil change.

It’s recommended that you maintain a 50/50 coolant-to-water ratio but check with your mechanic to ensure you’re using the right mixture. Always use the specific coolant recommended by your manufacturer, mechanic, or car dealer, and keep the radiator cap on as tight as possible after topping up the coolant.

A loose radiator cap will prevent the cooling system from pressurizing as it should, which may result in overheating. A loose cap will also decrease the boiling point of the coolant (a properly pressurized system increases its boiling point), which will cause fluid loss via rapid evaporation. 

2. Flush It Out Regularly

It’s important to establish an overall maintenance schedule or routine for each of your vehicle’s major parts and systems. This is especially true when it comes to the radiator. Tending to routine radiator maintenance is the most effective way to keep your vehicle’s cooling system in great condition, and regular fluid flushes are part of any radiator’s ongoing care needs.

An annual flushing of the coolant will help remove rust, scale deposits, and other forms of residue that can build up and clog the radiator over time. While the general rule of thumb is to flush out your radiator once a year, you may need to get a flush more or less often.

Your vehicle’s manual should contain the appropriate flushing intervals, but if you don’t have that, plan to flush your radiator every 30,000 miles to keep it running smoothly.

3. Look Out For Leaks

Fluid leakage is never a good sign for any vehicle, but when it’s your coolant that’s slowly leaking out of your radiator, the risk of overheating your engine increases drastically. Some of the most common signs of a leaky radiator include:

●        Gradual or drastic drops in coolant levels

●        Engine frequently overheating

●        Fluid puddle underneath engine (typically a slimy, green liquid)

●        Corrosion or discoloration appearing on the radiator

Keeping an eye out for these signs and acting swiftly if you notice them will help ensure your radiator and engine continue running properly. While fluid leaks might seem relatively minor, they can spell serious trouble for your vehicle when they’re ignored.

To learn more about fluid leaks, check out 4 Signs Your Radiator Has a Leak.

4. Inspect and Maintain Hoses

If a radiator hose detaches, either because the clamp fails, the end of the hose dehydrates and cracks, or the hose bursts from excessive pressure buildup, coolant will leak from the radiator. And if you fail to notice a detached hose, you’ll certainly become aware there’s a problem when your vehicle starts overheating rapidly.

That’s why performing routine under-the-hood inspections is so important. Twice a year, ideally in the spring and fall, pop the hood of your ride and give the hoses a thorough once-over. If you notice any cracking or other signs of deterioration, replace the hose(s) to avoid running into problems. Likewise, if you can see that a clamp is failing or the ends of the hoses are looking haggard, remove them and install new ones.

Radiator hoses are reasonably priced, even when they’re new, but you can also find quality hoses at a salvage yard if you want to keep your parts costs low. Be sure to ask yard staff to inspect hoses for dry rot if you’re not sure how to identify it. Hoses that sit idle for several months or even years can rot, and if you install a dry-rotted hose, you’ll inevitably end up with another leak.

Want to find the best-used radiator hoses? Check our tips for finding the best parts at a salvage yard.

5. Purchase From a Reputable Used Auto Parts Store

Before you even dive into all the preventive maintenance actions you’ll need to tend to, it’s important to only buy used radiators from a reputable and professional used auto parts store. At Ace Auto Parts, we proudly back all of our used auto parts with a minimum 90-day warranty, giving you the opportunity for covered repair work or replacement in the event that something’s not up to par.

Before you begin your search for a discount part, you’ll definitely want to check out our top tips for selecting a quality used radiator.

Stop by Ace Auto Parts for Quality Discount Auto Parts in the Twin Cities

Need a new radiator for your ride? Visit Ace Auto Parts in St. Paul, and we’ll help you find the used part you need! Contact us today to find out whether we have the right used car part for your vehicle, or use our parts search tool to browse our inventory online. If we don’t have what you need, simply let us know, and we’ll do our best to get it for you.

To learn more, feel free to give us a call at 651-717-4299 to speak directly with a member of our skilled technician team.