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Can a Car Radiator Explode? (Explained)

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Last Updated on: 7th September 2023, 12:38 am

The radiator of a car plays an important role in the vehicle’s cooling system.

If the radiator malfunctions or becomes damaged heat and pressure can increase too much, causing the coolant to overheat and over-pressurise, potentially leading to the radiator bursting or exploding.

In this article, we’ll discuss the various factors that leads to the engine overheating and a burst radiator, as well as what happens if a radiator explodes and what to do.

Causes of a Car Radiator to Burst

A ruptured radiator can be the result of excessive pressure within the cooling system. This is often triggered by an overheating engine that causes the coolant to boil.

The boiling coolant generates steam, increasing pressure in the cooling system.

If the pressure escalates too much, it may lead to a rupture in the radiator or other parts of the cooling system. Additionally, a damaged or corroded radiator is more susceptible to pressure-induced bursting.

steam coming a car engine bay

What Happens if the Radiator Explodes?

In the event of a car radiator bursting, the resulting coolant leakage could induce engine overheating. This incident can also inflict damage on various other engine components, potentially leading to a total engine failure.

In severe scenarios, a burst radiator could lead to significant harm if individuals come into contact with the boiling hot coolant and steam.

Can You Drive a Car With a Burst Radiator?

No, it/s not safe to drive a vehicle with a burst radiator. Doing so would also likely cause damage to the engine, potentially leading to its breakdown. It’s important to have a damaged radiator either fixed or replaced promptly.

coolant leaking from a car


A burst radiator can be dangerous and potentially lead to engine damage and expensive repairs. Changing coolant frequently and inspecting the vehicle can help prevent a burst radiator.

If the radiator does explode, it’s important to not drive the car or go near the hot coolant fluids and steam, you should have it repaired or replaced as soon as possible.

  • Andy Lewin

    Andy Lewin is a senior mechanic, ASE qualified master technician, and an experienced automotive engineer. He's passionate about serving the automotive community with the highest-quality and trustworthy information on all things automotive. He loves to write about car repairs, maintenance, car modifications and tuning, faults, and much more.

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