Your radiator is one of the most important parts of your vehicle's cooling system. The engine in your car or truck works extremely hard and as it burns the air / fuel mixture, it generates a tremendous amount of heat. Since the engine operates at its best when it is at the ideal temperature, it needs to be cooled down so that it does not overheat. Your vehicle’s radiator plays an integral role in doing just that. Located behind the grille, the radiator’s only function is to take hot coolant from the engine and cool it down before sending it back to the engine.
So, how does the radiator in your automobile do this? Basically, coolant from the water pump enters into the engine. As the coolant goes around the engine’s cylinders, it picks up the heat from the friction and burning of fuel, thus transferring it from the engine to the coolant. The warm coolant is then forced out and travels through the upper radiator hose and into the automobile’s radiator via the water outlet. From there it goes into small chambers that are all throughout the radiator, where it is then cooled down by the air that is passed freely through the radiator’s core by the radiator fan. Air passes through the radiator when the vehicle is moving as well, but the use of cooling fans aids this process when the engine is being worked harder and/or when the car or truck isn't moving. The cooled coolant then goes back to the water pump via the lower radiator hose and the process repeats itself.
While older auto radiators were typically made of heavy copper and brass, today’s modern cars and trucks typically use lighter ones made of plastic and aluminum. For an even more in-depth explanation of radiators, including the different materials that they are made of, the number of cores and what they mean, check out our auto radiatorsguide.