Cooling Systems

September 19, 2016

We’re often asked questions about the cooling system – the system that cools your engine and keeps it at the proper operating temperature. Let’s examine the topic in two areas: first the coolant itself and, second, the parts that make up the cooling system.

The coolant in you vehicle is the mix of water and antifreeze that circulates through the engine to draw off heat. First, you need to have the proper amount. If you don’t have enough coolant it can’t keep your engine cool.

Finally, your coolant needs to be fresh. Over time and miles, the anti-corrosion additives in the coolant are depleted and the coolant can actually start to eat away at the cooling system parts. Your owner’s manual and your friends at Jacksonville Auto Repair can help you with the recommended coolant replacement Now let’s talk about the cooling system components.

These will all eventually wear out and need to be replaced.

Starting with the radiator, we see them coming into the shop with leaks or clogged with deposits. Depending on the damage, we will clean, repair or replace. We also see radiator pressure caps that can no longer hold the proper pressure. We recommend replacing pressure caps when you change your coolant to avoid this problem.

We see leaky water pumps and hoses that need to be replaced, too. There’s also a part called the thermostat that opens and closes to regulate the flow of coolant. Sometimes they stick open or closed and the cooling system won’t work properly. The thermostat is an important part of your cooling system. Your vehicle’s thermostat performs a similar function to the thermostat in your home. At home, you set your thermostat to maintain a comfortable temperature range. When your home gets too hot, the air conditioning kicks on and when it gets too cool, the heater turns on.Now your engine also has an optimal temperature range: warm enough to run efficiently and not so hot as to cause engine damage.

Your vehicle’s thermostat is a valve between the engine and the radiator. When you first start a cold engine, the valve (thermostat) is closed, allowing the coolant surrounding the engine to warm up to the proper operating temperature. As the coolant gets hotter, the thermostat opens, allowing coolant to flow through to the radiator to be cooled. The thermostat opens and closes to keep the engine within a certain temperature range.Now thermostats are rated for a specific temperature depending on the engine – not a one size fits all proposition. Thermostats are subject to normal wear. Proper operation depends on a special wax that expands as it heats up to open a spring-loaded valve. A worn thermostat could stick in the open position causing the engine to run too cool. This is inefficient and could hurt performance and fuel economy. If a thermostat sticks in the closed position, the engine can quickly overheat, possibly causing damage.There isn’t a specific maintenance routine for the thermostat, but maintaining your cooling system by changing your coolant/antifreeze on schedule will make sure the coolant has enough corrosion inhibitors to protect the thermostat and other vital system components. Cooling system experts recommend replacing your thermostat when you do a coolant flush or exchange. Also, thermostats usually wear out faster than your hoses, so if you need to replace worn hoses, replace the thermostat at the same time.

Engine damage from overheating can be very expensive to fix so it’s important to maintain your cooling system properly with scheduled coolant replacement and periodic inspections of the cooling system. Certainly come in if you suspect a leak and have us take a look.

Fan Belts

Like everything else, the fan belts on our cars are very important, but they often get neglected and can leave us stuck on the side if the road if they fail.

We will be happy to inspect your belt or belts with both a visual inspection and with a tool that shows if there is too much wear…..even when they still look good belts may have excessive wear. Tensioner’s, pulleys, alternators, A/C compressors, pumps and crankshaft dampers can also wear can cause belts to be out of alignment.