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Saturday, August 30, 2014

How to Maintain Your Car’s Engine Cooling System Part 1

The cooling system in your automobile is responsible for keeping the engine from overheating, due to excess heat.

The engine cooling system is made up of 3 critical components:

1. The radiator

2. The engine cooling fans

3. The engine coolant (or coolant and water mix)

Some engines are designed to be air-cooled, like the flat-four engine of the original Volkswagen Beetle. But new cars need a reliable cooling system to maintain an ideal operating temperature.

A running engine produces enormous amounts of heat. The combustion chamber alone can reach temperatures of as high as 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit, while the coolant and water mix that runs inside the radiator can reach the boiling point of water (up to 212 degrees Fahrenheit)–or even higher when the engine is overheating.

What Causes the Engine to Overheat?

There are a variety of reasons why your car engine might overheat. It can either be caused by lack of water/coolant inside the cooling system, or it can be caused by a cracked radiator hose (in which the water and coolant mixture will leak outside the cooling system).

If you notice that your engine temperature gauge is high, park your car immediately, pop open the hood to let the engine cool down, and seek immediate assistance. Do not turn off the engine until the engine temperature returns to normal.

What Will Happen to My Car Engine when it Overheats?

Depending on the severity of the situation, an overheating engine will result in engine damage, and costly repair bills. The engine cylinder head may warp or crack, and the pistons may seize or stick to the cylinder walls if your car continues to overheat.

Car Engine Cooling System Maintenance

Here are a few short tips to keep your cooling system in the best possible condition, and prevent the dangers of an overheating engine:

Tip 1: Always inspect your water and engine coolant level. Do not open the radiator cap when the engine is hot. If your car comes with a special radiator cap with a release valve, lift the valve before opening the radiator cap to prevent nasty burns caused by boiling high-pressure water.

Your car will come with an engine coolant reservoir. Look at the radiator cap and trace the hose back to the reservoir. Open the reservoir and inspect the coolant level. Add water and coolant when necessary. Do this at least once a week.

Can I Use Pure Coolant or Water Only?

If you use pure water, and your car has aluminum components for the cooling system, this may lead to premature wear due to rust. The proper mixture of water and coolant will depend on the type of car you have, and the atmospheric temperature in your zip code. Refer to the owner’s manual of your car to know the correct mixture of coolant and water.

More new car engine cooling tips coming in the next post.

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