Radiator rust is prone to occur and the reason why the system should be checked as often as possible. This may not be a problem for new car owners, as the system is covered by the vehicle warranty, but those with older model cars (or those past the warranty period), should include radiator maintenance, along with the host of other services needed to prolong the life of your car.
Most radiator problems are caused by neglect on part of the owner. Since the cooling system relies on water and coolant for proper heat dissipation, moisture and rust is inevitable and could accumulate in the system. The following tips should be considered to prevent and remove rust from your radiator.
Use only Distilled Water and High Quality Coolant - Distilled water is free from contaminants usually present in tap water and would contribute to a clean radiator that is devoid of rust and other debris. When tap water evaporates or boils due to excess engine heat, harmful metallic elements will accumulate in the cooling system and cause leaks or inefficiency of operation. Use only distilled water whenever possible, as this simple trick will yield dividends towards a rust free and clean radiator. The proper mix of coolant and water is essential for proper operation, as coolant (anti-freeze) will help lubricate aluminum parts and the water pump to further add a degree of protection against rust. A 50/50 ratio of coolant and distilled water is recommended for most car models. Consult the owner's manual or service center to determine the right concentration of water and coolant in the radiator. Remember that this factor may vary according to usage and ambient temperature.
Flush the Radiator - Newer cars need not apply, but old model cars or those past the warranty period should undergo a radiator flush at least once a year to prevent rust accumulation. This will depend on the specific make and model of the car but flushing once a year will guarantee total rust protection on the radiator and the entire cooling system. This simple chore can be done on a weekend by the DIY enthusiast, but a mechanic should be consulted for those with insufficient knowledge regarding this process. Proper flushing will also remove excess rust and debris that may have accumulated in the system.
Check for Leaks - Pop open the hood and check for any related leaks on the cooling system. Leaks will not only lessen radiator performance, but will be the cause of rust on other engine components that are consistently exposed to moisture. Remember that the engine cooling system is sealed, and excess consumption of water or coolant in the radiator is a sure indication of a leak. Leaks should be checked, corrected and repaired when necessary to prevent engine overheating and costly repair bills. It is easy to prevent and remove rust in your radiator as long as proper maintenance procedures are applied. Check the cooling system regularly and consult a qualified mechanic when leaks, excess rust or overheating is noticed in the system.