The Christian Brothers Automotive Guide to Your Vehicle’s Cooling System

The Christian Brothers Automotive Guide to Your Vehicle’s Cooling System

| By: Christian Brothers Automotive

The Christian Brothers Automotive Guide to Your Cooling System

Although gasoline engines have made leaps and bounds and have improved a lot over the past few decades, they are still not very good at turning energy into mechanical power. In fact, around 70% of the energy converted from your engine is turned into heat, which could overheat your whole car if it wasn’t for the cooling system.

Your cooling system remains to be one of the most important components in your car, and as such, it should be routinely monitored and inspected to ensure the safety, efficiency, and health of your vehicle. If the cooling system fails, it can often lead to costly repairs that usually could have been avoided using preventive maintenance techniques.

What’s in Your Car’s Cooling System?

Today, most modern cars have a liquid cooling system that circulates a fluid, called coolant, through pipes and various passageways directly in the engine. When this liquid passes through, it absorbs the heat from the hot engine, cooling it.

Your car’s cooling system is a time-tested system that contains the following:

  • Various Passageways – These helps transfer the coolant where it needs to go.
  • A Water Pump – This pumps the antifreeze and water mixture through the engine’s passageways and hoses.
  • A Thermostat – Your cooling system’s thermostat ensures the proper temperature is being maintained to prevent overheating.
  • A Radiator – Your car’s radiator cools the coolant, allowing it to be the perfect temperature for your system.
  • A Radiator Cap – The radiator cap prevents pressure in your cooling system from getting too low or too high at any given time.
  • Interconnecting Hoses – The hoses connect with the radiator to cool the coolant after energy heat is transferred.

Engine coolant is a liquid mixture of water and antifreeze located in your vehicle’s radiator that keeps your engine from overheating in hot weather and freezing in extremely cold weather. The engine runs best when its coolant is about 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93 degrees Celsius). The coolant in modern vehicles is a mixture of ethylene glycol (antifreeze) and water, with a recommended ratio of 1:1 – one part antifreeze and one part water.

As with the other fluids in your car, your engine coolant levels should be routinely inspected to make sure it is a healthy color and is filled to the appropriate level. If it is dirty or low, it is time for a cooling system inspection. It is important to note that antifreeze is very poisonous and should always be kept away from people and animals.

The Importance of Your Cooling System

The primary job of the cooling system is to keep your engine from overheating by transferring this heat back into the air. Although this is the main job of your cooling system, your unit is doing a lot more than you may realize.

Your car’s cooling system is important for a few key reasons:

  • Heats Engine Quickly – The engine in your car runs its best at fairly high temperatures, so your cooling system can quickly heat the engine when you start your car. When the engine in your vehicle remains cold, components will break quicker, it won’t run efficiently, and will emit more pollution.
  • Regulates Temperature – In order for your car to keep operating the way you expect it to, your cooling system is constantly maintaining your engine at its ideal temperature. This ensures efficiency and safety.
  • Removes Excess Heat – Your cooling system uses the properties of heat transfer to remove excess heat from your engine so it does not overheat, which can lead to costly repairs and create unsafe driving conditions.

Your cooling system remains to be one of the most crucial components of your vehicle and should be routinely inspected by yourself and professionals. These three jobs of your cooling system continue to protect your car’s internal temperature and overall health.

Common Cooling System Issues

Common signs of a failing cooling system include:

  • Car Overheating – Is your car overheating? If so, there is something wrong with your cooling system. Whether it’s your pump or the radiator cap, you need to have your vehicle inspected ASAP.
  • Steam – If steam is emitting from your hood, this can be a telltale sign of overheating. If you see steam coming from under the hood, pull over and let the engine cool down before driving again. It is important to have your system inspected soon thereafter. If it keeps overheating, have your vehicle towed!
  • Low Coolant Levels – When your engine is cold, you can look at your coolant levels. If these are low, it may be time for a full coolant flush and replacement.
  • Coolant Leak – Coolant leaks are pretty easy to identify, as they are usually highlighted by their bright yellow or green color. If you notice a spot on your driveway or parking spot, it is time for a full inspection.
  • Burnt or Dirty Coolant – If your coolant is not bright yellow, green, or translucent in appearance, this is a red flag that it is time to replace your coolant.
  • Poor Gas Mileage – A large and noticeable decrease in gas mileage may be due to a variety of automotive issues, one of these being a cooling system issue.
  • Smell Antifreeze – If you ever smell antifreeze burning, it is time for a full inspection. This can mean that there may be a leak or it may be time for a new radiator cap.

Any of these signs can be your car’s way of telling you it is time to see a professional. From ensuring that your engine does not overheat to perfecting your gas mileage, your cooling system can cause quite a few problems if these warning signs are ignored.

Some common cooling system issues we commonly see include:

  • Water Pump Failure
  • Leaky Radiator Hoses
  • Radiator Unit Leaks
  • Internal Thermostat Failures

If any of these occur in your vehicle, it can quickly turn into a nightmare of costly repairs and services that could have been avoided in the first place. You can read more about common cooling system issues on our blog here.

How to Maintain Your Car’s Cooling System

When it comes to maintaining your car’s cooling system, it comes down to following a few key guidelines. As a general rule of thumb, we believe that you should reference your car’s operating manual to ensure the correct coolant levels and maintenance milestones are being met for the make and model of your vehicle.

Additionally, it is important to have your car’s coolant system and radiator inspected by a professional at least once every 12 months. Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to inspect the system every 12,000 miles, especially if you travel quite a bit. Your car’s coolant helps to protect your engine from overheating or freezing. If this heat isn’t properly removed, it can lead to diminished performance.

Our Services

When your car has a cooling system problem, getting it fixed quickly should be your number-one concern. At Christian Brothers Automotive, we can quickly repair your car’s cooling system as well as address virtually any other automotive issues you may be experiencing. For over 30 years, we have strived to break away from the negative stereotypes often associated with car mechanics and instead opted to create an experience that keeps you coming back whenever your car needs some extra care.

Our honest, friendly, and professional technicians can advise you on the best repairs and maintenance plans to keep your car on the road and running efficiently – and safely! From our courteous vehicle health inspections to our comfortable waiting lounges featuring complimentary beverages and free WI-FI, we are here to get you and your family back on the road.

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