The cooling system in your car works to keep your engine from overheating, and that is a very important job. If your vehicle overheats, it can mean the death of your engine. In this guide, we’ll tell you how to troubleshoot and fix the cooling system and when it’s time to head over to AME.
If steam starts coming from under the hood of your car, turn off the air conditioner, open your windows, and turn your heater on wide open. This will help draw some heat from your engine though unfortunately it will draw it into your car. You do not want your vehicle to overheat, so if a service station isn’t in sight and the other measures didn’t work, you need to pull over and shut off the engine immediately.
Here are some reasons your car may get hot:
- Leak in your cooling system
- Thermostat problem
- Fan belt is loose
- Water pump problem
- Low oil level
- Bad hose
- Dirty radiator plugged with debris
- Timing needs adjusting
- Needs coolant
Actually, there are two types of cooling systems found on motor vehicles: Liquid cooled and Air cooled. Air cooled engines are found on a few older cars while modern vehicles use liquid cooling.
The Components of a Cooling System:
- The Radiator
- Radiator Cooling Fans
- Pressure Cap & Reserve Tank
- Water Pump
- Bypass System
- Freeze Plugs
- Head Gaskets & Intake Manifold Gaskets
- Heater Core
An engine that is overheating will quickly self destruct, so proper maintenance of the cooling system is very important to the life of the engine and the trouble free operation of the cooling system in general.
The most important maintenance item is to flush and refill the coolant periodically. The reason for this important service is that anti-freeze has a number of additives that are designed to prevent corrosion in the cooling system. This corrosion tends to accelerate when several different types of metal interact with each other. The corrosion causes scale that eventually builds up and begins to clog the thin flat tubes in the radiator and heater core causing the engine to eventually overheat. The anti-corrosion chemicals in the antifreeze prevents this, but they have a limited life span.
Newer antifreeze formulations will last for 5 years or 150,000 miles before requiring replacement. These antifreezes are usually red in color and are referred to as “Extended Life” or “Long Life” antifreeze.
Most antifreeze used in vehicles however, is green in color and should be replaced every two years or 30,000 miles, which ever comes first. You can convert to the new long life coolant, but only if you completely flush out all of the old antifreeze. If any green coolant is allowed to mix with the red coolant, you must revert to the shorter replacement cycle.
At AME we can reverse-flush the cooling system. This requires special equipment and the removal of the thermostat in order to do the job properly. This type of flush is especially important if the old coolant looks brown or has scale or debris floating around in it.
If you remove the thermostat for a reverse flush, always replace it with a new thermostat of the proper temperature. It is cheap insurance.
At AME your cooling system service will consist of:
- a visual inspection of all cooling system components, including belts and hoses
- a radiator pressure cap test to check for the recommended system pressure level
- a thermostat check for proper opening and closing
- a pressure test to identify any external leaks to the cooling system parts; including the radiator, water pump, engine coolant passages, radiator and heater hoses and heater core
- an internal leak test to check for combustion gas leakage into the cooling system
- an engine fan test for proper operation
- a system power flush and refill with car manufacturer’s recommended concentration of coolant