Engines are constantly firing while running, producing massive amounts of heat that must be regulated in order for the car to function properly—enter the car’s cooling system. While engine firing doesn’t itself make the engine hot, the heat produced by the rapid succession of firing accumulates heat. Typical, average car engines are cooled with the help of liquid coolant and a complex system of parts that collaborate together to reduce the engine’s overall temperature to the optimal driving level. Overheating and other temperature related issues could occur if something goes wrong with the cooling system, so it’s important to be vaguely familiar with the different parts of the cooling system and their role or function in case you encounter specific symptoms. Here are a few of the cooling system components, how they work, and typical issues that are associated with them:
The radiator is responsible for circulating the cooling fluid, usually antifreeze. The radiator works with the water pump to combine water and antifreeze through the complicated system of hoses that encompasses the radiator. The liquid antifreeze/water combination cools the temperature of the engine when combined with airflow. One of the most typical issues that one may encounter with the radiator is a leak. Leaks can occur in any number of the radiator components, but usually the leak is traced back to cracked hoses. When your radiator begins to leak, it will certainly cause issues—one of them being engine overheating. When the radiator loses the coolant and water fluids, it also loses its ability to cool the engine. Your temperature gauge will likely spike, or you may notice steam rising from your engine. In this scenario, it is best to pull of the road and have your car towed; it is fruitless to fill your engine with more water or antifreeze if the leak is substantial enough—you likely won’t make it to the nearest mechanic.
As previously mentioned, the water pump works in tandem with the radiator components to cool the engine. The water pump itself works by way of a timing belt mechanism that creates a water flow, allowing the liquid to mix with the antifreeze and circulate through the engine. If other parts of your engine are not running properly, this can affect the timing belt mechanism which in turn will disable your water pump. When a water pump malfunctions, the cooling system can no longer remove heat from the engine. Failed water pumps are not uncommon in the average vehicle, and it is critical to have the problem assessed at once. Along with radiator issues, when the water pump isn’t functioning properly, it will likely lead to overheating, which will put your car out of commission until the problem can be diagnosed and repaired.
The Whole System
As you can see, the entire cooling system serves a critical function in engine occupation. Much like other parts of your vehicle, one part cannot run without a series of other parts doing their job adequately. The cooling system in itself is complex, and includes plenty of opportunities for issues to arise. Anything can go wrong from cracked belts and hoses to failing water pumps and radiator leaks. Therefore, it is critical to have thorough inspections performed on your cooling system regularly. But you shouldn’t stop there; as mentioned before, the cooling system relies on other parts of your vehicle to be working properly. For instance, if a timing belt snaps, the water pump’s timing chain cannot engage properly either. For overall vehicle health, it is important to have trusted hands take a look at what’s going on under the hood.
There are plenty of conditions that can contribute to failing cooling systems, including harsh temperature and weather conditions, driving habits, and typical traffic conditions you experience. In areas like Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New York, NY, the condensed traffic can wreak havoc on your cooling system. In warmer months especially, or even preventatively before summer hits, the experts at Bay Diagnostic can help you assess how well your cooling system is functioning and address any issues preemptively. Don’t get stuck overheated on the roadside; contact us to schedule an inspection—we’ll be happy to help put your mind at ease.