Every week, as I scan the internet looking for radiator news to share with all of you I come across stories of men and women who injure themselves with hot coolant while trying to repair or remove their radiator. This can result in serious injury to the eyes and face and in most cases it is a problem that could be easily avoided. You simply need to let your engine sit and cool off before attempting to remove the radiator cap. I’ll repeat that: LET YOUR ENGINE COOL DOWN!!!
Coolant works by coursing through the engine, absorbing it’s heat, returning to the radiator where that heat is released into the outside air. The coolant is then sent back to the engine where it picks up more heat and heads back to the radiator to be cooled, fanned and prepared for another run. This is why we refer to radiators and fan assemblies as part of a car’s heat transfer system. Coolant transfers immense amounts of heat away from the car’s engine, and in the process the fluid is heated to scalding hot temperatures.
This increase in heat leads to a build up of pressure in the system. This is because heat is energy, and molecules that are full of energy/heat bounce around more than molecules that are not full of energy (cooler ones). The extra movement of the molecules in hot coolant means that the coolant takes up more room. In a closed system, this means more pressure. When this pressure is released through say, the sudden removal of a radiator cap, the result can be a veritable gyser of burning hot radiator fluid. This is a recipe for injury to the eyes and face.
After reading story after story about people who don’t let their engine cool and are subsequently burned, I feel strongly for the safety of my readers. It is a simple, easy, and safe thing to remove a radiator, but make sure to read up on our car care articles and speak with a mechanic before embarking on a radiator removal or installation. And whatever you do, for goodness sake, LET YOUR ENGINE COOL DOWN FIRST!