There are some obvious signs to look for when it comes to a car radiator needing repair; when there is steam coming out from the top or sides of a radiator, then this usually means seals have broken or there is a leak in the unit itself. Dripping fluid also means that the radiator has sprung a leak or needs new seals. However, in some cases, the damage to the radiator is so extensive that it cannot simply be repaired, and instead, it may need to be replaced altogether. While only your mechanic can tell you the extent of the damage to your car's radiator in particular, note a couple signs that might signal that you're going to need an entirely new radiator altogether.
Once a radiator begins to rust, it will typically need to be replaced. This is because the rusting of the unit itself will allow rust flakes to get into the coolant and in turn, slow it down from circulating through the hoses of the cooling system. This rust in the coolant can also damage the engine as the coolant circulates. The radiator is also more likely to start to form holes in the unit once rust begins to show, and in turn you may have holes that allow coolant to leak out.
There is little that a mechanic can do to stop rust once it starts to form on any car part, including a radiator. Patching up holes formed by rust and flushing the coolant when rust starts to appear in this fluid are only temporary fixes. In most cases, once rust forms inside or outside the radiator, the radiator will need to be replaced.
2. Consistent coolant depletion
When the radiator leaks, a seal can help to address this leak and the radiator may be useable still. However, if the radiator has so many leaks that coolant is regularly depleted, very often you simply need to replace the radiator. As said, replacing the coolant repeatedly is only a temporary fix, and it's good to remember that your car's engine needs regular, steady coolant in order to function.
If you are consistently adding coolant to your radiator, you are putting your car's engine at risk for overheating and seizing up every time you drive it. Rather than always trying to stay ahead of the coolant depletion in your car's radiator, it's good to simply have it replaced altogether. This will ensure your engine is protected when you drive.