Summer cooling system check
The modern cooling system consists of multiple parts to deal with the tremendous heat generated by today’s engines. The primary job of the cooling system is to prevent the engine from overheating and thus avoid catastrophic engine damage.
Anything that decreases the system’s ability to absorb, transport and dissipate heat can cause the engine to operate at reduced efficiency or even overheat. This can include things like kinked hoses, a corroded water pump or even a worn pressure cap. Therefore it’s vital that each component of the system is maintained at the highest level of performance and efficiency. These components include: The heater core – uses the hot coolant to generate hot air to heat the car interior. The radiator – cools off the hot coolant through the process of heat dissipation. The expansion tank – stores the coolant reserve and accommodates the changes in coolant volume as the coolant goes through its cycle of heating up (expanding in volume) and cooling down (reducing in volume) by holding expanded coolant from the cooling circuit. The fan – draws external fresh air onto the radiator as necessary to assist in heat dissipation. The thermal switch – operates with the coolant temperature variation and switches on the fan as necessary to support the cooling by airflow. The cooling system hoses – carry the coolant through the entire circuit. The coolant acts as either an engine-cooling or interior-heating source, depending on the part of the circuit it is in. Possible sources of damage to hoses can include electrochemical degradation (internal damage), leakage, heat, ozone, abrasion and oil contamination, and any damage can inhibit the flow of coolant, causing the cooling system to fail. The thermostat – regulates the coolant flow to obtain and maintain the optimum engine operating temperature. Possible sources of damage to the thermostat include leakage from the mounting surface, rust and corrosion, build-up of sludge and deposits that clog the thermostat and, in the case of map-controlled thermostats, electrical malfunction. Thermostats can fail in one of two ways:
If the thermostat becomes stuck in the open position, there is a continuous flow of coolant into the radiator, causing the engine to run cold. Overcooled engines run inefficiently leading to increased fuel consumption and emissions, and faster engine wear. Additionally, the car interior won’t heat up properly.
If the thermostat becomes stuck in the closed position, the circulation of the coolant back to the radiator for cooling is blocked and the engine becomes overheated. The water pump – constantly circulates the coolant throughout the entire cooling circuit, regulating the coolant flow rate. Damage to the water pump can contaminate coolant and impede its flow, causing the engine to overheat. Sources of damage to water pumps include leakage from the weep hole, leakage from the mounting surface, rust and corrosion, build-up of deposits, cavitation (bubbles of vapour in the coolant that collapse, pockmarking the pump’s components which then corrode), and a damaged shaft or bearings. The radiator cap and the expansion tank cap – seal off the filling hole of the radiator/expansion tank gastight; ensure that the prescribed pressure on the system is maintained at all times during operation by allowing air to escape in case of overpressure. The caps should be considered the “safety valve” of the cooling system, and as such kept in good condition. Common problems can include a cracked, age hardened or damaged seal, a failed pressure relief valve, or a failed vacuum relief valve – all of which can cause the system to lose pressure, leading to coolant boiling and an overheated engine.
Gates offers OE-quality solutions to all of these potential issues, ensuring that when fitted with Gates products, your vehicle always runs to manufacturer’s specifications.
Gates is one of Australia and New Zealand’s leading suppliers of cooling system components and a true cooling system expert. From a wide range of curved, flexible and straight hoses for all purposes and connections to highly accurate thermostats, water pumps, precise pressure control radiator and expansion tank caps and even down to the gaskets, bolts and flushing tools you require, we’ve got your total cooling system needs covered.
Gates recommends that preventive maintenance is carried out at each service. All components of the cooling system should be checked for wear and damage, as outlined above, and any damaged parts replaced immediately to avoid worst case scenarios. As well as saving your customer time and money, this is also good news for you as it improves customer satisfaction levels with your workshop and keeps your customers coming back.
For more information on any of these issues and for a complete trouble shooting guide, including replacement guidelines, go to www.GatesAustralia.com.au/CoolingManual.