Cars Cooling System Service
Since the colder months will
soon be upon us, there are several things considered critical in your vehicle's
maintenance. And since the engine is the heart of your vehicle and directly
affects its operation, here is what you can do to ensure proper engine life and
performance. A vehicle's cooling system should be serviced seasonally to
prevent premature engine wear due to extreme climate or engine temperature.
According to Everco Industries, a leading manufacturer of automotive cooling
system parts, one sure way to prepare the engine's cooling system for these
extreme climate conditions is to have your local service dealer perform a few
basic preventive maintenance checks during your next routine servicing:
- Check for external leaks. Usual areas of leakage are water
manifolds, radiator seams, water pumps, freeze plugs and all hose connections.
The condition of radiator hoses should be carefully scrutinized for possible
deterioration from age and/or wear from rubbing against accessory brackets,
etc. Be aware that in many cases radiator hoses wear from the inside out, so
outside appearance can be deceiving.
- Check for internal leaks. Pull the oil dipstick and check for
evidence of coolant. It will show up as minute droplets or sludge and should
be easy to spot. This could indicate a cracked head, block or blown head
- Check the radiator. This is the one component in your vehicle's
cooling system which can quickly diminish the efficiency and durability of the
engine. Check for obstructed air flow and clean any debris from the fins.
Also check the radiator mounting for loose bolts or cracked brackets from
vibration and stress.
- Check the cooling fan. If the vehicle is equipped with a
centrifugal thermo-static type fan clutch, it is important to spot problems
before they occur. Check for wear by moving the fan blade back and forth.
Over 1/4" of play in either direction could point towards excessive bearing
wear. You should also turn the fan by hand. If it free-wheels or there is a
rough grating feel as the fan turns, this could mean excessive fluid loss or
bearing wear respectively. If any of these conditions exist or there is
evidence of fluid leakage, the fan clutch should be replaced. If the vehicle
is equipped with an electric cooling fan, a quick performance check can be made
by turningon the A/C and checking to make sure it operates without excess
vibration or noise. Also check all electrical connections for signs of
corrosion, or physical damage. With the engine hot, check to see if the fan is
coming on at the correct temperature and operating properly.
- Check the coolant level and conditions. As a general rule the
coolant level should be 1" to 2" below the radiator filler neck when cool. Use
an antifreeze tester to determine the protection range of the coolant. It
should be at least adequate for the geographic area where you live. If the
coolant is over two years old or has rust in it, system flushing and refilling
with new antifreeze solution is recommended and will be sufficient for most
climates. The two year replacement interval is necessary to maintain proper
rust inhibitor and other additive protection in the cooling system.
- Check the radiator cap. If your cap is rusted or the rubber seal is
dried out, it should be replaced. A pressure tester should be used to be sure
the cap is operating at the recommended pressure level.
- Check the thermostat. Remove the radiator cap and start the engine.
Insert a suitable thermometer into the radiator neck. When the coolant level
drops in the radiator, the thermostat has opened and is allowing circulation.
Record the temperature on the thermometer and compare to the thermostat
specifications. It should be no more than a few degrees either way of the
actual thermostat setting. If you are not in the correct range, the thermostat
will have to be replaced. Be sure to install a new gasket and inspect the
thermostat seating area for corrosion and pitting.
- Check drive belts. Visually inspect all belts for glazing or
deterioration. These conditions usually are caused by wear but can be
accelerated by improper adjustment, engine fluid spillage, lubricant leakage or
improper belt sizing. Check the vehicle manufacturer's specification listing
for proper belt size, tension and/or deflection specifications.
- Check heater operation. A quick functional testing of the heater
unit can save a lot of mid-season grief. Visually inspect all hoses for
deterioration from age and wear. Also make sure hoses are not taut. This
situation can cause leaks at the heater core. Check the floor under the heater
assembly for signs of coolant loss. This could point towards a leaking heater
core. Also make sure to check the heater valve. Check vacuum lines for
leakage or deterioration. Lubricate all control cables, such as the heater
valve control cable, etc. Last but not least, check all function switches and
blower motor switches for proper operation. Having basic cooling system checks
made during routine servicing can prevent costly breakdowns and inefficient
operation of equipment during extreme climate conditions. Preventive
maintenance is the key to being able to drive your car longer while reducing
long term expenses.
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