How Tight Should a Radiator Cap Be?

Written by jeffery keilholtz
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How Tight Should a Radiator Cap Be?
Radiators heat up quickly. (car engine image by itsallgood from

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Tighten Strong for Safety

Radiator caps should be sealed strong and tight before operating. Radiators exert a lot of pressure when the fluid is heated. According to CarsDirect, failing to properly secure a radiator cap with ample physical pressure "can cause the vehicle to overheat" or even leak.

How Tight Should a Radiator Cap Be?
Never touch a radiator when it is hot. (Classic Car Engine Refurbished image by Janet Wall from

Be Sure All Caps Fit

Radiator caps are designed to withstand different amounts of pressure--be sure yours is appropriate. Correct radiator cap pressure helps to maintain a balance of heat. If old caps are damaged they should be replaced. New radiator caps, states ArrowHeadRadiator, "must have the same pressure rating as the original."

How Tight Should a Radiator Cap Be?
Radiators exert different amounts of pressure. (wheels, radiator,& lights of a classical car image by L. Shat from

Bottom Line

A radiator cap should be tightened with a maximum amount of physical pressure. If a radiator cap is not on strong enough it can cause fluid to leak. In order to avoid danger, be sure caps are pressure-rated specifically for your radiator. Check your owner's manual for details on pressure cap ratings.

How Tight Should a Radiator Cap Be?
Replacing a radiator due to a loose cap can be costly. (stack of cash image by jimcox40 from

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