Automotive radiators can get pretty dirty. After all, they are found on the front of vehicles where they are exposed to the air. When driving, air will flow over the radiator's fins so that heat is removed from the coolant inside of them. Any dirt, bugs or debugs, however, may accumulate on your vehicle's radiator as well. And if you don't clean the fins, less heat will be removed from the coolant. The good news is that you can clean your vehicle's radiator fins in just a few simple steps.
Step #1) Wait for Engine to Cool
Never perform any work on the radiator until the engine has completely cool. Cleaning the radiator fins doesn't involve opening the radiator. Nonetheless, it's best to err on the side of caution by waiting until your vehicle's engine has completely cooled. In most cases, engines will cool after sitting for about 30 to 45 minutes, in which case you can proceed to clean the radiator fins.
Step #2) Access the Radiator Fins
To clean the radiator fins, you'll need to access them. Most vehicles have a grille in front of the radiator, and many of them have an air conditioning condenser coil in front of the radiator as well. Depending on how your vehicle was designed, you may need to remove these parts to access the radiator fins.
Step #3) Scrub the Fins With a Brush
After accessing the radiator fins, scrub them with a brush to remove any debris. The fins are the vertical tubes that run from the top to the bottom of the radiator. They are essentially the passages for coolant. Over time, radiator fins can become clogged with debris from the road. The easiest way to clean them is to use a brush. Take a brush with moderately stiff bristles and scrub the radiator fins to remove any debris.
Step #4) Spray With a Garden Hose
You can spray the radiator fins with a garden hose to remove any lingering debris. Water won't harm your radiator or its fins. On the contrary, it will help to clean the fins by washing away any lingering debris. Just spray the radiator fins with a garden hose, after which you can reassemble the front grille and condenser coil.
That's all it takes to clean your vehicle's radiator fins. Keep in mind that cleaning the fins won't fix a clogged radiator. If your vehicle's radiator is clogged, you'll need to flush it. For a dirty radiator, on the other hand, you can follow these steps to clean the fins.