In addition to the important function of cooling the engine of a vehicle, a coolant system heats the passenger compartment too. The typical coolant system in most of todayís automobiles is comprised of the radiator, radiator cap, heater core, water pump, overflow, fan, hoses, engine passages, gaskets, and a liquid mixture (usually antifreeze and water) to run through these components to rid the engine of excess heat.
The coolant system is really important because it protects the engine, one of the more expensive parts of your vehicle from damage. If your cooling system is not maintained properly, you may damage the head gasket, water pump, require major auto repair or car repair, or the engine itself may need to be rebuilt or replaced.
Most often a radiator is made of flattened aluminum tubing with fins, the tubing is bent to fit in a rectangular shape. Aluminum is a great conductor of heat. The fins provide extra surface area so there is even more cooling. The radiator is usually located in the front of a car along with the fan. The fan blows air over the radiator effectively cooling the liquid that has been heated by traveling through the engine passages.
The radiator cap is an inexpensive gadget that controls pressure in the coolant system of a car to raise the boiling point of the coolant. Liquids under pressure have a higher boiling point than non-pressurized liquids. Boiling liquid is not a good way to cool a carís engine, so the radiator cap provides additional cooling ability. The fact that the coolant system is under pressure (when itís hot) is why it is so important to exercise caution when opening the radiator cap. You should not open the radiator cap until the engine has cooled and use gloves or a large towel when opening and keep your face as far away as possible.
A carís heater core looks very much like a small radiator located between the engine and dashboard. When we switch on the heater, a fan redirects air through the heater core where it picks up heat and blows it into the passenger compartment.
Sometimes people run their heaters when they are having problems with overheating as another way to dissipate more heat. If a car is overheating it is important to get it checked to find out if it requires auto repair or car repair
The water pump circulates the coolant through the entire coolant system.
OVERFLOW, FAN, HOSES, ENGINE PASSAGES, GASKETS
The overflow is a plastic container that allows a place for the excess liquid in the system. The hot pressurized liquid takes up more space than the cooled liquid. A fan blows air over the radiator to cool the circulating liquid pumped by the water pump through the coolant system. Hoses connect the components of the coolant system, the radiator, water pump, heater core, and engine passages together and gaskets are used to seal up the spaces so the system can be pressurized.
ANTIFREEZE OR COOLANT
Antifreeze is a misleading name since it does much more than merely cool. It usually contains chemicals to prevent corrosion to the system and when mixed with water, it raises the boiling point of the liquid mixture. It is usually a transparent florescent green yellow, orange, red, fuchsia, blue, or purple. It should be considered toxic. Some are more so than others; but, emergency medical attention should be sought immediately if consumed. Antifreeze should be disposed of as a hazardous waste at an authorized dump site or a garage that has the ability to dispose of it properly. The anticorrosive properties degrade over time. The coolant should be changed about every two years, more frequently if it becomes dirty, rusty, particles are visible, or the engine is overheating.
There are some important things to be aware of in regard to the coolant in your system.
There are many different brands and types of antifreeze available. Follow the Ownerís Manual for your vehicle as to the best type to use for your vehicle. The only possible exception to this would be if the radiator in your vehicle is not the same as the original. Never mix different types of antifreeze. If you decide to change what you are using, the system must be carefully flushed first. It is best to use distilled water because chemicals in tap water can interact with the chemicals in the antifreeze and cause serious problems. NEVER use softened water in your cooling system; it will interact with the chemicals in the antifreeze and cause serious problems that may lead to a major auto repair and car repair.
There are many reasons a car may overheat. Some of them include an insufficient amount of liquid in the coolant system, an improper ratio of water to antifreeze in the mixture, a bad water pump, a bad or missing radiator cap, a hot day and harsh driving conditions such as towing, driving in mountains, or stop and go traffic can all be isolated causes or combination may contribute to overheating. If a vehicle is overheating repeatedly it is important to have it checked out.
First thing to do is check for leaks in the system. See if there is liquid under your vehicle or on the engine the color of your antifreeze. Pay particular attention to connections between hoses and other components. Antifreeze leaks usually are outside of the system. However, it can leak into the engine. This is particularly bad. You can check for this by checking your oil. If there are specks of sludge or if the oil is a milky brownish color you may have coolant leaking into the engine compartment. Get your vehicle to a mechanic soon and have any necessary auto repair or car repair taken care of.
You can check the level of liquid in your coolant system by opening the radiator cap. Caution must be exercised to do this. The radiator cap is usually located on top of the radiator in the front of the engine compartment. Use a large towel or gloves and keep your face away incase there is steam or hot liquid released from the pressurized system. There should be a fill line in the neck of the radiator.
While youíve got the radiator cap off, inspect it for cracks or damage, pay special attention to the gasket look for dryness, cracks, evidence of rust or other debris. You can test it by putting it into a pan of hot water and bring it to a boil to see that it functions properly, this is fun and interesting; but, the caps are usually inexpensive and itís probably best to just replace it if thereís any question.
You can purchase a device to check the effectiveness of your antifreeze, depending on the type of antifreeze you are using it may be quite inexpensive or prohibitively expensive.
Every year or two your coolant system should be inspected. Check that hoses are firm and pliable (they should not be mushy, hard, or cracked); check for leaks, pay special attention to connections especially between hoses and other connections; check the cap for cracks, dryness, rust or other damage; check the overflow for holes and cracks. Run the car with the engine compartment open and cautiously observe for leakage. Inspect the radiator; make sure there arenít any gashes or damage to it. Itís a good idea to replace the hoses every four years to prevent more costly problems.