Vehicles are made up of a variety of components and systems, one of them being the cooling system.
Located in the engine block, its purpose is to help control the high temperatures in the engine. They do this by keeping the engine at a constant temperature.
According to CarParts, the cooling system is made up of the passage inside the engine block and heads, a water pump to circulate the coolant, a thermostat, and radiator to control and cool the coolant and also the car’s heater system.
While some cars have air-cooled engine cooling systems, many modern cars come equipped with liquid cooling systems.
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Common Cooling System Problems
With any complex system comes problems. We have looked at and compiled a list of common problems motorists may encounter from time to time. Because many of them are liquid systems these days, we will be focusing on those components.
Failed Water Pump
To maintain an ideal temperature for your engine, it needs to have a consistent flow of coolant supplied from the radiator throughout the engine.
The water pump is the key to making this entire system work properly, and when it wears down or fails, it can be catastrophic for the engine.
Signs that your water pump is failing can include your engine overheating, steam coming from your radiator and a whining sound that comes from a loose pulley.
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If your engine is getting too hot, one thing you will want to check is the radiator.
There are many reasons that a radiator could be failing including overheating, leaking coolant, and even sludge.
Coolant is one of the leading things to look at when you are having issues with the radiator. You want to look for low coolant, coolant leaks, and even sludge because of contaminated coolant in the system.
Low coolant generally is easier to identify because a low coolant light will pop up on your dashboard if it is getting too low. You want to keep an eye on how often this is happening because if it is too frequent than you may have a leak in the radiator and you will want to have that checked and repaired as soon as possible. If there is a crack in the radiator, you may also notice coolant leaking onto the ground beneath the vehicle while it is parked.
You will also want to check the coolant frequently and make sure that you are changing it to prevent the accumulation of sludge. Coolant comes in a variety of colors including yellow, red, green, blue and even orange. The sludge is a result of contaminated coolant or as a result of coolant gone bad.
A failed thermostat is the most common cause of overheating.
A failing or busted thermostat can keep the coolant from flowing through the engine, and when this occurs, the coolant cannot leave the engine and enter the radiator to be cooled, which will cause the engine to overheat.
Proper Cooling System Maintenance
- Check Coolant Level, Condition and Concentration – Since this is the fluid working through your system, you will want to make sure it is fresh, clean and at the proper level to keep your cooling system running correctly. Remember to check the color and watch for any sludge as it can wreak havoc on your system.
- Check for Leaks in the System – Leaks in hoses, in the radiator, they all make a difference when it comes to your its performance. You want to check for any cracks, tears or other damage. The sooner these leaks are found and repaired, the better off not only the system will be, but the vehicle as a whole.
- Inspect Belts and Hoses – Belts and hoses can quickly be overlooked, and yet they can cause some significant issues if they begin to break down or leak. Make sure to check coolant hoses regularly for any leaks and if you start to notice any puddles under your car, schedule it for a check with a trained mechanic.
Cooling Systems – Complex, Yet Essential
Cooling systems can be considered the lifeline of the vehicle because if they are not adequately maintained, it can have complicated and even catastrophic consequences. They are directly integrated into the engine system and if the engine does not work, neither does the car.
To avoid leaks and or the engine overheating, the cooling system needs regular maintenance to keep them running at their optimum level.
Remember, while this system may seem overwhelming, it does not have to be.
The seasoned car enthusiast can easily follow through on proper maintenance, and for the less auto-savvy, a trip to the mechanics can ease the mind.