Universal Radiator Diagram
The coolant system of vehicles has been improved over the years. Having an idea of how it works will help you to solve any problem easier.
The infographic below shows you a simple misfire of a radiator on older vehicle models and each part of it is easy to see and identify. The coolant system is not a stand-alone part that goes into the vehicle. It has a coolant which flows through the whole engine and back through the radiator. This is important to move the heat out of the engine and spread it through the radiator. Knowing the direction of the movement of the coolant is vital to diagnose the cooling system misfire.
A cooling system relies on other system parts to function correctly if one of them gets damaged, then the whole system can fail as well. In most cars, the main section of the radiator is used to cool the coolant and the transmission fluid. The fluids flow across the unit and air passes the fins removing the heat. The cap which is located on the radiator has a pressure relief valve and spring which helps the overflow from the radiator to be moved to the overflow tank. In the diagram below you can see the detailed outline of the radiator.
But anyway, over time the radiator can fail which will lead to overheating of the engine. And it is the main sign of a damaged radiator. If the radiator is cracked, then you may have most probably the coolant leak from the system. If the radiator has failed, then a green or yellow colored coolant will become rust or oil-colored liquid. A rusty radiator will just not function properly.