What is a radiator cap pressure test?

The radiator cap is calibrated to ensure the right amount of pressure is created and released when needed.
The radiator cap pressure test will measure whether your vehicle’s radiator cap is regulating the pressure in your coolant system properly. A car’s coolant system (which has antifreeze in it) serves to keep your engine from running too hot.

How to conduct a radiator cap pressure test.

While a radiator cap pressure test is fairly easy, it requires the correct equipment. This is why the average car owner relies on a professional mechanic to diagnose problems with their coolant systems.
The first thing your mechanic will do is make sure the engine is cool before conducting any tests. Always avoid taking a radiator cap off when an engine is hot—you can be scalded by hot liquid.
Next, the mechanic will remove the cap and attach the cap to a special pump, which reads the pressure. If the cap does not register the correct pressure—or does not hold the pressure for at least a minute—it’s no longer working properly.
If a problem is found with the cap, the mechanic will replace it. New radiator caps typically cost between $5 to $25 without labor.

When do I need to test the pressure in my radiator cap?

There are several signs that something is wrong with your coolant system. Not all of them involve a problem with your radiator cap, but mechanics may test the cap if any of these issues develop:
  • The vehicle overheats
  • The radiator’s overflow bottle is too full or overflows
  • You notice that coolant is leaking underneath your car
  • There are problems with radiator hoses

How important is a radiator cap pressure test

Because driving a vehicle with an overheated engine can damage cylinder heads, never ignore a problem with your coolant system. A radiator cap pressure test is an essential diagnostic tool that a mechanic uses to find the cause of the problem, whether it be leaking fluids or an overheating engine.

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