Signs Your Car is About to Die

Hello, my name is Roy. For many years, I drove a 1976 Ford estate car around Sydney. The car had belonged to my grandpa. It was passed down to me when I had just passed my driving test at the age of 18. That was in 1986 and the car was already in a pretty bad condition then. Fast forward to 2006 and I was now aged 38 and still driving the same car around. Sometimes the car wouldn't start, white smoke came out of the exhaust and the gearbox made a terrible sound. I did my best to patch it up, but eventually, I had to scrap the car and buy a new one. I decided to start a blog to encourage others to service their cars.

Thermostat or Radiator? What Is Causing Your Car to Overheat?


Have you noticed that the temperature gauge on your car's dashboard has been rising more than it should recently? This is, of course, an indication that the operating temperature is higher than it should be, and this is usually down to one of two key problems. Essentially, the engine may not be receiving a sufficient amount of coolant due to either a stuck thermostat or a failed radiator. How can you check to see what's happening?

Is it the Radiator?

The radiator is situated at the very front of the vehicle and is essentially a network of cooling fins. When you are driving along the road, water is pumped through these cooling fins and is exposed to the outside air as it passes across the fins and toward the back of the vehicle. Check to see if any leaves or other residue have built up on the front of the radiator, as this could impede the flow of air. While you are looking at it, assess whether there is any damage caused by impact or a buildup of rust. Take the radiator cap off and have a look at the colour of the coolant. If you see that it has a brownish or "rusty" appearance, this could indicate some internal damage.

Thermostat Issue

If all looks okay with the radiator, the thermostat is the likely cause of the problem. This is a simple device that sits in between the radiator and the engine and regulates how much coolant is directed towards the motor during operation. When the engine is cold then the thermostat will remain in the closed position, but as things start to heat up it will open and allow the mixture of coolant and water to flow through.

How to Test the Thermostat

You can conduct a simple test to see if the thermostat is working properly or not. After a short journey, bring the vehicle to a halt and park it on a level slope, before engaging the handbrake and opening the bonnet. Carefully check the status of the top and bottom radiator hoses simply by touching each one in turn. If the thermostat is working correctly, then the bottom hose should be warmer to the touch than the top one. The lower hose is returning coolant from the engine to the radiator and will naturally be warmer in this situation, while the top hose is pushing cooled water into the engine.

Replacing Parts

To help you overcome these issues take the vehicle into a car service, so that they can give the entire system a once-over and replace the offending parts.


12 June 2018