From the radiator to water pump your cooling system keeps your car running down the road.
Your car engine produces lots of heat, and keeping that heat in check is the critical job of the cooling system. Starting at the radiator, we will dive into the cooling system and see what you can do to keep it operating efficiently.
The cooling system is designed to remove heat from the engine to keep the engine operating in it’s optimal temperature range. The cooling system is comprised of the following parts…
Main Components of the Engine Cooling System
- Cooling Fluid – Coolant
- Radiator Fan
- Radiator Hoses
- Water Pump
- Heater Core
- Temperature Knob
- Temperature Control Valve
- Temperature Gauge
- Temperature Sensor
- Reservoir or Reserve Tank
- Radiator Pressure Cap
How Does a Cooling System Work?
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, like the original Volkswagen Beetle, the Chevrolet Corvair and a few others. Many modern motorcycles still use air cooling, but for the most part, automobiles and trucks use liquid cooled systems and that is what this article will concentrate on.
The cooling system is made up of the passages inside the engine block and heads, a water pump to circulate the coolant, a thermostat to control the temperature of the coolant, a radiator to cool the coolant, a radiator cap to control the pressure in the system, and some plumbing consisting of interconnecting hoses to transfer the coolant from the engine to radiator and also to the car’s heater system where hot coolant is used to warm up the vehicle’s interior on a cold day.
A cooling system works by sending a liquid coolant through passages in the engine block and heads. As the coolant flows through these passages, it picks up heat from the engine. The heated fluid then makes its way through a rubber hose to the radiator in the front of the car. As it flows through the thin tubes in the radiator, the hot liquid is cooled by the air stream entering the engine compartment from the grill in front of the car. Once the fluid is cooled, it returns to the engine to absorb more heat. The water pump has the job of keeping the fluid moving through this system of plumbing and hidden passages.
It is important to regularly inspect the condition of your cooling system’s belts and hoses. Soft hoses, oil soaked belts or cracked belts and hoses can have dire effects on the entire cooling system. Proper belt tension is also important.
Always refer to your manufacturer’s manual to determine the recommended coolant type for your vehicle. This and the proper mixture of coolant and distilled water are the lifeblood towards keeping your system running cool. Most parts retailers now offer a solution of premixed coolant and distilled water. While it may seem like an unnecessary added expense, the cleanliness of the premixed solution will pay off over time.
Mineral deposits and sediments from corroded or malfunctioning parts accumulate in the cooling system. Before performing a cooling system repair, it is recommended to flush the cooling system prior to installing any new parts. This is a task made even easier by using a flush-fill kit. Failure to flush the system will contaminate the new parts being installed and could lead to premature component failure.