Car Radiator Functions: Components, How It Works and Maintenance

The function of the car radiator is as a cooling system in the vehicle engine. With the radiator, excess heat in the vehicle engine can be suppressed. Or in other words, the radiator serves to maintain the stability of the car engine temperature.

Not only cars, two-wheeled vehicles also use radiators as their cooling system. Then, what is the working system of the radiator like?

Before stepping into how it works on a car, you must first understand the meaning of a radiator.

What Is a Car Radiator?

The radiator is the main component in the cooling system of a vehicle. When described further, the radiator is a device that absorbs heat energy in the vehicle engine to be stabilized.

The radiator itself consists of several components that have their respective functions. If one of these components is damaged, the radiator automatically cannot function optimally.

Car Radiator Function

When you start the engine and then start the car, all of the car's components work, such as the air conditioner, head unit or vehicle steering system.

This is where the radiator function begins to play a role. With this motion activity, the engine experiences friction which in turn creates heat.

The radiator also transfers heat from the engine to the air, by flowing water or coolant into a duct attached to the vehicle's engine.

The process by which coolant flows, here the heat is absorbed and brings it back to the radiator which will then cool it again. This is how the radiator works to maintain a stable car engine temperature.

Car Radiator Working Support Components

The radiator works with the help of several supporting components so that it can work optimally. That is, without just one of these components, the work produced by the radiator is not optimal.

The following components support the work of a car radiator:


Inside the radiator itself, there are several small interrelated components, namely the radiator core, upper and lower tanks, as well as radiator fins.

  • Upper tank is a tank that holds hot water or coolant from the engine.
  • Lower tank is a tank that holds coolant that has been cooled and is ready to be sent back to the engine.
  • The radiator core is a flat channel that connects the upper and lower tanks.
  • Radiator fins serve as a receiver of heat from the radiator core while releasing heat into the air that passes through it.

The radiator begins to work by maximizing the airflow that passes through the fins. The coolant that carries the high temperature flows into the radiator core to transfer heat.

The heat is then channeled to the radiator fins, due to their nature as conductors. Then, the heat in this conductor is channeled into the air through the radiator fins.

Radiator Cap

Although it looks trivial, the presence of a radiator cap serves to maintain air pressure in the cooling system. This component works when the pressure in the radiator increases, so that the valve opens and releases air so that the pressure becomes stable.

Radiator Hose

The function of the radiator hose is to supply coolant from the engine to the radiator and vice versa.


It has more or less the same function as the radiator valve, which is to keep the engine temperature in the normal range, 80 degrees Celsius.

Water Jacket

The water jacket is another component of the engine radiator that functions to circulate coolant and absorb heat thoroughly and evenly.

Reservoir Tanks

The main task of the reservoir tank is to accommodate cooling water. When the engine is running and at a high temperature, the coolant that evaporates causes the air pressure to rise.

This overflowing coolant is then channeled to the reservoir tank to be converted into liquid, so that the pressure is stable again.

Cooling Fan

Serves to lower the radiator temperature by flowing air from the outside through the fins. Currently there are two types of cooling fans, namely conventional and electric types.

Water Pump

Assigned to drain coolant into the cooling channel. The pump will flow water into the water jacket so that the engine heat drops or reaches a stable temperature.


Like the function of a thermometer in general, so does its job in a car engine as a coolant temperature gauge.

How a Car Radiator Works

The engine of the vehicle that is turned on and provides the required power, comes from the combustion of fuel and the generation of energy from many moving parts. The result is the engine becomes hot. To keep the engine temperature stable, a radiator is needed.

The presence of a radiator can dissipate heat while the engine is moving. If there is no radiator, it can trigger excessive heat which results in severe damage to the car engine.

Then how does a car radiator work?

As part of the engine cooling system, the components that work in it include coolant (coolant), a hose to drain coolant, a fan, and a thermostat that monitors the coolant temperature.

Coolant will flow through the radiator hose, through the engine and absorb excess heat, then back again to the radiator. Then, the radiator fins will release heat from the cooler into the air.

When the water cools down again, it returns to the engine to absorb heat. This heat exchange cycle will continue to repeat in order to keep the engine temperature stable.

How to Care for a Car Radiator

Most people choose the fast lane by submitting maintenance matters to a car repair shop to check the radiator is still functioning safely or not.

However, if you want to do it from home to save money and time, and better understand how to care for your favorite vehicle, consider the radiator care tips below.

Regularly Check the Radiator Water Volume

Because it functions in the car's engine cooling system, the first thing to do is check the radiator water volume.

Often this is forgotten by vehicle owners. Even though the volume of radiator water that shrinks can cause the engine to overheat.

In addition, a vacuum process will appear due to the pressure being channeled into the radiator water reserve tube. Obviously this condition is very dangerous, so it is advisable to diligently check the radiator water volume.

Regularly Drain the Radiator Water

So that corrosion does not occur, you also have to regularly clean and drain the radiator water. At least do it every 2 weeks.

If you neglect to clean the radiator, metal components will easily corrode so that the radiator can leak. As a result, the engine often overheats.

Avoid Filling the Radiator with Tap Water

Many people use tap water to fill radiators. Whereas tap water, iron content is high. This content can cause the radiator to rust easily. To anticipate this, use a special radiator water.

Add Radiator Coolant

In addition to functioning to maintain the car's temperature, radiator coolant is also tasked with removing rust as well as piles of dirt in radiator components. Therefore, you should prepare radiator coolant to keep the radiator functioning properly.

Signs of a Broken Car Radiator

As the main component in the car engine cooling system, the role of the radiator is very crucial. Therefore you can imagine if the radiator is damaged what will happen to your car engine.

Well, to prevent the engine from overheating, you must first know the signs of a damaged radiator. The following characteristics can be caused by a damaged radiator:

Engine Often Overheats

One of the characteristics of a damaged radiator is that the engine often overheats or overheats. Generally, this condition occurs when the fan or radiator water is dead and exhausted.

When the radiator water runs out, the engine will automatically overheat. Because the function of this water itself is as a medium for conducting heat from the engine to the radiator.

Leaking Radiator Hose

As mentioned earlier, the function of the radiator hose is to drain high temperature water from the engine to the radiator. It is this high temperature flow that increases the risk of leaks in the hose.

Water Dripping Under the Front Bumper

If there are drops of water under the front of the car, it is certain that there is a leak in the radiator. So that the water in it drips in the area under the bumper of your car.

There Is Corrosion on the Radiator Surface

The last step, pay attention to the surface of the radiator for corrosion or water seepage. If you find these two signs, it is certain that your car radiator is damaged.

Hopefully the information about the function of the car radiator above is useful for you.