Here at Sundance Automotive in Lakewood, we find it is helpful if you know the basics of your vehicle’s cooling system. Cooling systems are more likely to fail than any other mechanical system in your vehicle and yet, many owners pay very little attention to their cooling systems. Unfortunately, the main reason this system fails is neglect and failure to give the system the attention it needs. We hope the more you understand about the basics of your vehicle’s cooling system, the more you will follow the guidelines for preventative care to extend the life of your car.
It’s All About the Heat
Most car owners don’t realize that your engine can produce approximately 4,500 degrees of heat. The heat is so hot, that if not cooled, the pistons would be hot enough that the metal could melt, adhering itself to the inside on the cylinders. The engine would be ruined and a new one would cost you thousands of dollars. To stop this from happening, the water pump in your vehicle runs coolant through various passages to cool your engine and absorb the heat produced. At some point, your water pump will need to be replaced along with some of the belts associated with it. This cost is minimal in comparison to needing to repair the damage done from your engine seizing as a result of not caring for your cooling system.
And Yet, Freezing Can Be a Problem
The coolant in your vehicle serves many purposes. It is a mixture of ethylene glycol and water and is also commonly known as antifreeze. Antifreeze prevents freezing as the name implies. If there is not enough coolant in your system and your vehicle is sitting in particularly cold temperatures, you may experience freezing. Because liquid generally expands when it freezes, the force can be strong enough to crack the engine block. This is not a problem you want to experience. It can be quite expensive to fix. Always make sure your antifreeze or coolant is checked regularly to avoid issues. Your coolant should also be changed on a regular basis.
Your Thermostat is Important
The thermostat is a key component in your cooling system. It controls the flow of coolant based on the temperature of your engine. Sometimes, issues with your cooling system may point to a problem with your thermostat. A faulty thermostat can cause your engine to run too hot or too cold. Sometimes the thermostat fails while in an open position. This means coolant is flowing freely without any regulation and causes the engine to run too cold. On the other hand, the thermostat may fail while in the closed position. This means that no coolant may be flowing through and will cause your engine to overheat in short order. Functioning thermostats are key to a properly running cooling system.
Know about Your Hoses
Hoses keep everything flowing in your cooling system. Unfortunately, the hoses are rubber and over time they may develop cracks. Leaking hoses will cause problems with your cooling system because it will change the rate of flow of your fluid. Your hoses should be regularly checked for cracks and leaks to spot trouble before it becomes a more serious issue.
The Fan Belt
The fan belt drives the water pump and much like the hoses, it can crack or even break. Without a fan belt, no coolant runs through your system and your engine will quickly overheat. These belts are built to last, especially newer ones. Follow the recommendations for checking your fan belt in your owner’s manual. Regular inspections should spot trouble, which will allow you to get the belt replaced in advance of it actually breaking.
Remember Your Radiator Cap
One of the basics of your vehicle’s cooling system is a small and simple part. Your radiator cap is easy to overlook as a source of trouble. Your radiator cap helps control pressure in your radiator system. There is a spring-loaded plunger in the cap, which diverts coolant when the pressure is too high. Sometimes, the spring-loaded plunger gets stuck or jammed. If there is an issue with the cap, your temperature gauge will read normally but you may hear a boiling sound. Coolant may leak from the cap (though if you recently had the coolant filled this may occur as a result of overfilling the coolant). If you ever need to remove your radiator cap, do it only when your engine is completely cooled, otherwise, a rush of boiling fluid will spurt out and cause some very serious burns.
If the Needle is Moving to Red
If your engine temperature is reading more towards the red, there are a couple things you can do. Turn off your air conditioner or even run your heater on high. Turning off the air conditioner will lighten the strain on your engine. Running your heater allows your car to pull additional heat from the engine. Either of these or both may allow you to get to a place, like Sundance Automotive in Lakewood to get your car checked out. If the needle is actually in the red, you may need to pull over.
Regular Checks of Your Cooling System
To avoid serious problems, it is best to have your cooling system checked on a regular basis. If you check your system when you get your oil changed, this will get your cooling system checked on a regular enough basis to spot trouble before you have a serious problem on your hands.
Knowing the basics of your vehicle’s cooling system will hopefully help you understand the importance of paying attention to the system and all its components. If you want to get your cooling system checked over or if you are having issues with your cooling system or one of its components, come see us here at Sundance Automotive in Lakewood. We will take care of your vehicle’s cooling system and make sure your vehicle takes care of you while you are on the road.