All cars have a cooling system to keep their engines running without overheating. Do you know how vehicle cooling systems work and how to care for them? Here’s a brief look at the information every car owner needs to know.
What is a Car Cooling System?
A four-cylinder engine propelling a vehicle forward at 50 miles per hour generates 4,000 controlled explosions per minute as spark plugs ignite the fuel inside each cylinder. These explosions produce a great deal of heat that, if not controlled, will destroy the engine in mere minutes.
As the name suggests, the primary purpose of a cooling system is to keep the engine cool. However, it also prevents the temperature from dropping too low when it’s cold outside. If this happens, the fuel economy suffers, and emissions increase. Therefore, the actual function of a car cooling system is to maintain constant engine temperature.
How Does a Cooling System Work?
When you start the engine, the liquid coolant begins flowing through passages in the engine block and heads, picking up heat as it goes. The coolant then passes through a rubber hose and into the radiator. There, the hot liquid is cooled by a stream of air flowing in from the grille at the front of the car. Once cooled, the fluid returns to the engine to absorb more heat, and the cycle continues.
Parts of a Cooling System
- Coolant is composed of 50 percent ethylene glycol (antifreeze) and 50 percent water. A 1:1 radio is ideal for optimal performance in all weather conditions.
- Hoses serve as the “plumbing” for coolant to flow through.
- The radiator is where heat collected from the engine is dispersed.
- Cooling fans keep air flowing through the radiator when the car is at a standstill.
- The pressure cap maintains pressure in the cooling system up to a certain level. If the pressure gets too high, it releases some coolant into a reserve tank.
- The water pump keeps the coolant moving through the system.
- The thermostat controls the flow of coolant based on the engine temperature.
- The bypass system sends coolant back to the engine without being cooled in the radiator during cold weather.
- Freeze plugs seal the coolant inside the system.
- Gaskets seal the heads and manifolds to the engine block.
- The heater core transfers heat from the engine to the vehicle cabin in cold weather.
Cooling System Maintenance and Repair
An overheated engine will quickly destroy itself, so proper maintenance is critical for the life of your vehicle. However, there’s more to maintaining the cooling system than simply topping off the coolant.
That’s where All Tune and Lube can help. Our ASE Certified Master Technicians can knowledgeably flush and refill the coolant when it reaches its recommended lifespan. We also safely dispose of used coolant to prevent harming the environment.