What Is an ATV Radiator?

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  • Written By: Lori Kilchermann
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 01 April 2020
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An ATV radiator typically includes an aluminum core made up of cooling tubes and cooling fins combined with plastic tanks that work to cool the engine of a machine. The aluminum core is the area of the radiator that the coolant flows through. Small aluminum strips called cooling fins, aid in absorbing the heat from the coolant. As the air passes over these fins and makes its way through the radiator, the heat dissipates back into the atmosphere. The cooling efficiency of a radiator can be increased by adding more rows of cooling tubes to the core.

Most adult-sized, all-terrain vehicle (ATV) engines are typically liquid-cooled. The coolant is cooled by circulating through an ATV radiator while air flowing through the radiator whisks away the unwanted heat. On most machines, the ATV radiator is tucked into the vehicle's frame, just ahead of the engine to both protect it from damage as well as to position it to receive the optimum flow of air. To maintain a cool temperature of the coolant and the engine, there is typically an electric fan mounted behind the ATV radiator to draw air through when the machine is idling, which is running while sitting still.


Many early ATVs used air-cooled gasoline engines that provided high power and afforded the thrill-seeking rider ample means of fulfilling a need for speed. In the earliest machines, the engines often overheated and occasionally damaged the engine to the point of a required engine replacement. ATV manufacturers soon added an ATV radiator to the machine's liquid-cooled power plant and the overheating issue was resolved. This also ushered in the use of four-stroke engines in place of the previously used air-cooled, two-stroke engines.

Coolant is drawn back from the bottom of the radiator and into the engine to begin the cooling sequence once again. Repairing a damaged ATV radiator is a task that is often best left to a professional radiator repair shop. There are multiple chemicals and products designed and marketed for the do-it-yourself (DIY) radiator repairman; however, most of these products are intended for a temporary or emergency repair and are not designed to withstand the rigors of typical ATV wear and tear. It is often better to spend more money on a professional repair than to risk damaging the engine with a failed home ATV radiator repair.


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