How to Maintain a Healthy Coolant System in your Car

With summer well underway in White Lake, MI you want to make sure you are doing all you can to prevent unwanted breakdowns. A large part of that is keeping the engine cool. That last thing you want to see on a summer road trip is the temperature gauge creeping into the red zone.

What is the Cooling System?
A typical 4-cylinder car cruising at 50 mph produces about 4,000 controlled explosions per minute as spark plugs ignite the fuel in the cylinders. This is what propels your car down the road, but also produces an enormous amount of heat. If not controlled, that extreme temperature will destroy your engine. That is where the cooling system comes in. It helps maintain an optimal temperature.

The system consists of several parts including hoses, pumps, caps, fans, a radiator, thermostat, and reserve tank. Coolant flows through the passages inside the engine block, collecting heat. Then it flows to the cylinder heads, collecting more heat. Next is passes the thermostat, through the radiator hose, and into the radiator. Inside the radiator the fluid cools and is pumped back out, ready to circulate and collect more heat.

Maintenance and Repair is Important
The most important thing you can do to keep the coolant system healthy is a periodic flush and refill. Antifreeze has several additives that keep the fluid from freezing and boiling at certain temperatures. They also prevent corrosion. Unfortunately, these additives have a limited lifespan. With time they will break down. So every two years or 30,000 miles you will want to flush out old antifreeze and replace it with new stuff. Newer formulations can last for 5 years or 150,000 miles.

You should also get a seven point inspection performed on the cooling system every couple of years. For this auto repair, the technician will perform these steps:

1. Visually inspect the cooling system components. Here the technician looks for the condition of caps, hoses, and belts as well as looking for anything that is cracked, warped, or corroded.

2. Test the radiator pressure cap. This part is designed to help the system maintain an optimal pressure. If it exceeds that, a valve opens and bleeds excess into the reserve tank. Then, when the engine cools a negative pressure forms, and another valve opens, allowing the cooling back into the radiator tank. If the cap fails, the engine could start to overheat.

3. Check the thermostat for proper opening and closing. The thermostat helps with the flow of coolant, and opens or closes at certain coolant temperatures. But it can get stuck in the open or closed position. So if you are having problems with the cooling system, the thermostat is a great place to start.

4. Perform pressure test to identify any external leaks. The technician waits for the engine to cool, removes the pressure cap, and uses a pressure tester with a gauge to test the system. Once the indicated pressure reaches the manufacturer’s specifications the technician looks for any leaks while watching the gauge to see if it loses pressure. If it loses more than a couple pounds of pressure in as many minutes, there is probably a leak somewhere.

5. Perform an internal leak test. If you appear to be losing coolant, but can’t find any other signs, you may have a problem with a head gasket, which is major. To test for this the technician uses a kit to check the vapors in the radiator to see if you have a combustion leak and if exhaust gases are present within the radiator.

6. Test the engine fan for proper operation. The fans are especially important if you are driving slowly, or are stopped while the engine is running because you do not have any natural air flow. In newer cars the electric fans are mounted directly on the radiator. They draw air through the radiator and help cool the fluid.

7. Power flush and refill the cooling system. For the last part of this auto repair, the technician will flush the system and refill the coolant.

If you want to keep your cooling system in top shape for another hot summer in White Lake, MI, call us at Holly Tire. You can schedule an appointment or stop by our lexus auto repair shop White Lake, MI located at 15140 N. Holly Rd. Holly, MI 48442.

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