Your car's radiator and its entire cooling system are vitally important; if your car runs when it's too hot, this heat puts excessive wear and tear on the engine and all the parts under the hood. While the radiator may be one of the most important parts of the car's cooling system, it's not the only one; don't put off having this system checked as needed simply because you're afraid of the cost of a new radiator. Note some other common problems that might be causing your car to overheat so you know what you might face by way of repairs.
Air and other blockage in the system
If air gets into the cooling system through a crack in a radiator hose, this restricts the flow of coolant to the engine. A mechanic can check for air bubbles around hoses and connectors and replace these as needed, and then bleed the system to remove any air trapped inside.
Other types of blockage may lodge in radiator hoses; this can be rust from inside the engine or flecks of those hoses as they start to break down over time. Flushing the radiator and the coolant system can get all those obstructions out, and your mechanic can replace any damaged hoses so coolant flows freely.
If the engine overheats in stop-and-go traffic but runs fine on the expressway, this usually signals a broken fan. When you're traveling uninterrupted at high speeds, the fan blades are forced to turn. If the fan is broken, those blades won't turn at slower speeds or when you're idling. You may need new wiring to the fan or a new fan altogether.
The radiator has a pump that moves coolant from the radiator and into the engine, and then circulates it back to the radiator again. If this pump is broken, the radiator may be working fine but no coolant gets sent to the engine, and it quickly overheats. Broken pumps are relatively common so they're one of the first things a mechanic may look for when your car's cooling system malfunctions.
A radiator may start to leak along the grill so that it becomes low on coolant very quickly. If these leaks are caught soon enough, they can often be patched so that you don't need an entirely new radiator. If you notice any drips or steam coming from the front of the radiator, have this checked quickly before the leaks get bigger and the radiator is ruined.