When the temperature starts going up during the summer it’s important you can tell if your cooling system needs help. A faulty cooling system is the main reason that vehicles break down during the summer. The Car Council says that the four main signs your cooling system needs help are overheating, leaks, being able to smell antifreeze and having to constantly change the coolant.
When you neglect your cooling system it could lead to major damage and could cause your engine to completely shut down and stop your summer trip in its tracks.
When you don’t maintain your cooling system it really becomes a question of when it’s going to fail on you. Checking the belts, hoses, water pump, and fluids on a regular basis will keep your car cool and ensure it lasts much longer on the road.
The coolant system is important because it gets rid of the heat that the combustion process that powers your engine generates. Coolant can reach temperatures up to (and over) 200 degrees and the car needs to do something with the heat before it damages important systems and components. The cooling system works by taking the heat generated by the engine and automatic transmission by sending it outside of the car. The water pump in the system takes the coolant and sends it through the engine. The coolant absorbs the heat and transports it to the radiator where it’s harmlessly dispelled from the car. The thermostat keeps an eye on the temperature to ensure the coolant stays at the temperature level needed to keep the engine running smoothly.
Something that drastically affects how well the cooling system performs is regular maintenance, such as changing the coolant. You should take a look at the owner’s manual for your car to see how often the manufacturer says you should change the antifreeze and flush the coolant systems. Performing a coolant flush and fill is one of the most basic ways to maintain the cooling system as changing the antifreeze keeps the engine running colder while the flush gets rid of the dirt and sediment that could wind up damaging the coolant system.
You should check your coolant levels on a regular basis and remember to never open up a hot radiator cap. Let it cool down first. If your coolant is running low then you should add a 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and distilled water to keep your car going.
You can also visually inspect the hoses, belts, and radiator to see if there are any cooling system problems before they have a chance to get worse. Common signs that the cooling system needs some TLC include radiator leaks, bulging hoses, and a frayed or cracked belt.
There are some other signs that the cooling system is damaged such as your cars temperature gauge constantly being near (or in) the danger zone, coolant leaks, steam or hissing sounds coming out from under the hood and, perhaps most obvious of all, the distinct smell that an overheating engine makes.