03 Jun Why Service Your Car’s Cooling System?
The days are getting longer and warmer, so you are probably spending way more time in your car. However, before you plan that big camping adventure or epic road trip, you may want to make sure your vehicle is in tip-top shape. Now is the perfect time to service the cooling system in your car or truck. A vehicle that is overheating, leaking coolant/antifreeze, or has a dirty radiator, should get checked out right away. Nothing ruins a road trip faster, than being stranded on the highway with your hood up. Maintaining a well running cooling system is really important to prolonging the life of the internal components of your engine.
What Does My Cooling System Do?
As you probably know, the cooling system in your vehicle provides a very important function. Combustion engines generate a lot of heat, and that heat builds up in your engine compartment. The cooling system uses coolant/antifreeze and distilled water to circulate around your engine absorbing that heat, and then disperses it through your radiator.
Coolant: Corrosion Protection
The coolant/antifreeze in your vehicle is specifically formulated to provide corrosion protection. The components in the cooling system are in constant contact with this fluid. It coats and protects them from scale build-up, oxidation, corrosion, and extreme temperatures. Over time, this coating loses its effectiveness, leaving those components vulnerable.
Maintaining the proper temperature of your car’s engine is another important function of the cooling system. In today’s vehicles, the cooling system should keep the same temperature whether it’s snowing, raining, or scorching hot outside. If the engine’s temperature gets too low, there could be a rise in emissions and a decline in fuel economy. Alternatively, if the engine is running hot, you could risk serious damage to the engine block and other expensive repairs.
How Does My Cooling System Work?
There are a lot of working parts, hoses, gaskets and other components, but the is pretty simple. Basically, the water pump moves the coolant/antifreeze through the engine and heads, where it collects excess heat. This super hot fluid then travels through rubber hoses into your radiator at the front of your vehicle, behind your grill. The fluid is cooled as it travels through the radiator and then the cycle starts all over again.
When Should I Get My Cooling System Serviced?
The National Automotive Radiator Service Association (NARSA) recommends you get your vehicle a cooling system maintenance check at least once every two years. This can be especially helpful if you drive in extreme weather conditions (very hot and/or very cold), do a lot of stop and go driving, or notice that your car is running hot. Here are some points that may help you figure out if it is time for a cooling system check up.
The exterior of the radiator is made up of tightly grouped aluminum strips or ‘fins’. Their purpose is to filter the heat from the coolant into the air, thus cooling your engine. If those fins get clogged with dirt, bugs, or other road debris, they are less effective. If you notice a build up on the outside of your radiator, you can clean it yourself with a stiff nylon brush or bring it in for service.
The interior of the radiator also needs maintenance. Coolant has a specific life span. The longer the coolant is in use, the more sediment and scale it can accumulate. Also the additives within the coolant can be used up. When this happens, your coolant is no longer protecting the internal components from corrosion and oxidation. Check your coolant levels often. If there is a noticeable color change of the coolant, or you can see any debris in your radiator or reserve tank, it is time to schedule a service call.
If you see a bright yellow-green spot under your car, then you are leaking coolant. It is really important to get those leaks looked at promptly. These leaks are toxic to animals, so you’ll need to clean them up immediately. A small leak today can turn into a big leak tomorrow and the consequences can be expensive.
There are several reasons your engine may be overheating. A cooling system service will usually take care of them all by inspecting the following:
- Visual Inspection of Entire Cooling System
- Radiator Pressure Cap Test
- Pressure Test for External Leaks
- Internal Check for Combustible Gas Leaks
- Engine Fan Unit
- System Coolant Flush & Refill (Mix of Antifreeze & Distilled Water)
Finally, let’s not overlook general routine maintenance. Your car or truck may be running perfectly and none of the above issues apply to you. That’s fantastic and exactly what you want from your vehicle. Now, let’s keep it that way. Check your owner’s manual and be sure to schedule a cooling system check whenever you reach the recommended time and mileage milestones. Basic rule of thumb is every 2 years or 30,000 miles – whichever comes first.
Let Us Help
What procedures does a cooling system service call include? Typically, we check for any cooling system leaks, remove the old coolant from your radiator, perform a coolant flush, and then refill your system with your auto manufacturer’s suggested formula of antifreeze for your vehicle type.
Z’s Car Care would love to schedule a cooling system service for your car or truck today.
We are a full service auto repair shop that has been in business for over 35 years. Give us a call at 503.648.3552 or make an appointment online.