A critical part of any automobile is its cooling system. Internal combustion engines generate a lot of heat when they are running and depend on a complex cooling system to remain at a safe temperature. If that cooling system fails, then the result can be anything from an engine knock to blown head gaskets and damaged pistons. In order to keep your engine from destroying itself from overheating, regular cooling system maintenance is vital. However, this is not always a single service as there are several different components in the cooling system that need attention at different times. This maintenance ranges from a scheduled coolant replacement to patching coolant leaks and repairing fans, to replacing water pumps and thermostats. While the cooling systems in modern vehicles are simple and robust, failures are not unheard of, and regular maintenance is key to preventing issues from occurring in your car, truck, or SUV.
In order for your vehicle’s cooling system to function properly, it requires a supply of liquid coolant. This coolant is a blend of water and antifreeze that is tailored specifically to your car, but it will degrade over time and if left in too long can begin to corrode your cooling system from the inside. This means that the coolant needs to be replaced on a regular schedule in order to prevent damage that could result in your car overheating. But how often it needs to be replaced is dependent on your car.
Older cars generally use a simpler form of coolant that does not last as long and may need to be replaced as soon as every two years or 24,000 miles, while some newer cars may be able to go as long as fifteen years or 150,000 miles. Most modern vehicles should have their coolant replaced around every 50,000 miles, but you should always check with a mechanic to find out the recommended schedule for your car. And keep in mind that heavy use, such as regularly pulling a trailer or keeping your vehicle idling for long periods, can degrade your coolant more quickly, so remember to mention your driving habits when asking about when you should get a coolant replacement done.
Patching Coolant Leaks
Coolant leaks are possibly the most common problem with modern cooling systems. In order for the coolant to do its job, it must circulate through the engine and radiator. However, the various components carrying the coolant can develop leaks, especially if the coolant is not replaced on schedule. If this happens, your engine will eventually run out of coolant and overheat. If you check your coolant level regularly, then you can catch this before it happens, but whether you discover this problem in your garage or while out on the highway, you will need to have your cooling system inspected and the leaks repaired. Depending on where in the cooling system the leaks developed, this can be a simple matter or a complicated one. The best case scenario is that a hose or a connection is damaged, but coolant leaks can also be caused by a corroded radiator or failing engine head gasket. In the latter case, fixing the leak does take some effort to do properly. However, a coolant leak must be repaired for your engine to operate safely.
Water Pump Replacement
Your engine’s water pump is a critical part of its cooling system. This small part is responsible for circulating the coolant through the engine and radiator, and if it fails, your cooling system will stop functioning until the water pump can be replaced. Generally, the water pump is not considered a regular maintenance item, and it can last for the life of your engine. However, some vehicles are notorious for water pump failure, making preemptive replacement during other major maintenance periods an option worth considering. And if you have experienced cooling system leaks and internal corrosion, then that can be a sign that your water pump is on its last legs. However, a non-functioning water pump may also just be the result of a slipping drive belt. As always, communicating with your mechanic is key to making sure your vehicle gets the cooling system maintenance that it needs, and trying to save a few bucks by putting off recommended maintenance can result in much greater expenses down the road.
Radiator Fan Maintenance
The second moving part in your vehicle’s cooling system that might require maintenance is its radiator fan. This component is responsible for keeping sufficient air moving through your radiator to remove the excess heat, even when your vehicle is idling or traveling at low speeds. As with the water pump, the radiator fan is not a part of the cooling system that normally requires regular maintenance, but that does not mean that failures are uncommon. The most likely source of failure in the radiator fan is the fan clutch, a mechanism that is used to engage the fan when it is needed and turn it back off when it is not needed. If this part fails in the off position, then your engine can overheat. But it may also get stuck in the on position, which can damage the fan and possibly the radiator as well. If your engine is experiencing unexplained heating problems, but everything looks good under the hood, then the radiator fan may need maintenance and possibly replacement.
The final part of the cooling system that may need maintenance is the thermostat. This is a small sensor that measures engine temperature and helps the cooling system operate optimally. If your engine has overheated, then the thermostat should be replaced because it may have been damaged by excessive heat. However, it is also possible that a thermostat might simply go bad and no longer read engine temperature correctly. In either case, a broken thermostat can result in serious problems as the cooling system will no longer be reacting to the actual engine temperature. In the best case, this means warning lights and reducing power even though everything is fine. But in the worst case, a failing thermostat can result in your engine overheating without warning. Problems with your thermostat are also difficult to diagnose without the proper tools, making regular maintenance by a mechanic critical to catching this problem before it becomes serious.
King's Quick Lane Tire and Auto Center
If you are looking for a place to have your car, truck, or SUV’s cooling system worked on, then there is no better place to visit than Kings Ford Quick Lane Tire and Auto Center. At our garage, we have some of the best mechanics in the area and are experienced working on all makes and models. No matter what vehicle you have and what cooling system issue you are experiencing, you are in good hands here as all our work is done by the book using quality parts. And of course, our expertise is not limited to cooling system maintenance alone, so if your vehicle needs any other work done, then you can schedule it for the same time. We can handle everything from an oil change and tire swap all the way up to the replacement of major components. So if you need a mechanic to get your vehicle back in running order, just visit King's Quick Lane in Cincinnati, OH, and we will get you back on the road in record time.