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Heavy-Duty Radiators: Their Uses & Common Causes of Failures

A radiator is a radiator, right? Not true; truck, off-road vehicles, buses and motorhomes have a wide range of options for replacement radiators when a new one is needed. In the past, radiators could be cleaned and leaks repaired when they needed it. Today, many fleet and individual operators will chose to replace a radiator to get their vehicle back in service quickly.

Heavy-duty radiators are the best option when you want the highest possible engine performance and the longest life from your new radiator. The value is clear over the long term. You can save labor costs on multiple repairs, know you are unlikely to break down in the middle of a vital delivery, or get stranded somewhere repairs will be slow and expensive. Heavy-duty radiators offer a range of benefits, which is why they’re one of Dura-Lite’s core product offerings.


What Exactly is a Heavy-Duty Radiator?

Your engine’s radiator is one of the main components of its cooling system, and they’re designed to keep your engine at the proper operating temperature for optimum fuel efficiency, power, and long life. A radiator absorbs the excess heat your engine develops and uses the air passing through your vehicle’s grille to cool the coolant. When it comes to heavy-duty radiators, they’re designed for vehicles that receive a lot of constant use, heavy-duty trucks, motorhomes, buses, and construction heavy equipment.

The main difference between a normal radiator and a heavy-duty radiator is that they’re designed to handle higher levels of heat over a much longer period of time without breaking down. They are made for a harsh environment with materials and engineering design features to eliminate common failure points. Construction materials are designed to minimize corrosion and stand up year after year.


What Are Some of the Common Warning Signs of Heavy-Duty Radiator Failure?

Although heavy-duty radiators are built to last, like all machine components they can fail due to improper maintenance, external factors like accidents, or eventually they wear out. The most common warning sign of a heavy-duty radiator failure is a coolant leak on the ground. A radiator that becomes clogged with corrosion or external debris will start to lose its heat removal capability and you will see the engine overheat. A catastrophic failure, like a big leak or a hose failure, will create plumes of steam when the vehicle is stopped.


What Are the Common Causes of Heavy-Duty Radiator Failure?

If your heavy-duty radiator has failed, it’s likely because of:


As a component located on the front end of your vehicle, if you’ve been involved in a collision or even a heavy rock thrown into the front of your vehicle, you could easily suffer radiator damage. Any impact on the front of your vehicle suggests a close inspection. Even if your radiator looks fine by all outward appearances, it’s always best to have it inspected, as smaller leaks can develop in your engine’s cooling system and get worse with time.


Coolant contamination is another thing that can damage your heavy-duty radiator. Cooling systems require a mixture of distilled water and antifreeze to optimize cooling system performance and minimize corrosion throughout the engine. Corrosion occurs over a long time and can be minimized by following the manufacturer’s recommendations for flushing and changing the antifreeze. It’s a simple enough preventative maintenance item and considering the cost of an engine failure, it’s a very affordable cost.


This is another common occurrence that happens when there’s an electrical current circulating through your coolant system. This form of radiator failure has become more common as the number of electrical wires in an engine system have increased. The electrical current can occur when the system isn’t grounded properly and another wiring fault causes a current to flow. The resultant galvanic corrosion can cause pretty rapid failure.


Contact us today for more about heavy-duty radiator replacement! Dura-Lite specializes in heavy-duty radiators, charge air coolers, and more, so contact us online or call (800) 661-1117.

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