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Tame The Heat

Cooling System Maintenance Tips

A cloud of steam rising out of an open car hood usually indicates that the engine has overheated. Many people blame this on radiator problems, but the radiator is just one component of a larger system.

The cooling system is a series of parts that work together to pump coolant—typically a 50/50 mix of water and ethylene glycol (or antifreeze)—from the radiator through the engine to absorb heat and circulate it back to the radiator to transfer the heat through cooling fins and into the air. So before you blame the radiator for your car losing its cool, check to make sure the problem isn’t being caused by one of the many other parts of the cooling system. The most common cooling system problems involve one or more of the following:

·        Thermostat - the thermostat controls how much coolant flows into and out of the radiator to maintain the ideal operating temperature. The valve inside the thermostat can get stuck open or closed by silt, rust particles, and residue, causing the engine to overheat.

·        Radiator Hoses and Hose Clamps - over time hoses break down and clamps corrode causing leaks in the cooling system. Radiator hoses should be inspected at least twice a year, typically in the spring and fall, and replaced every four years or as needed.

·        Water Pump - these fail when the shaft seal starts to leak or the impeller inside breaks, comes loose or the blades erode and wear. Without a properly functioning water pump, your car's engine will be subjected to extreme temperatures which can cause serious engine damage.

·        Radiator Cooling Fan - if your vehicle starts to overheat while idling or operating at a low speed, check the fuse or wires to the electric cooling fan to make sure they are working and connected properly. If your vehicle has a belt-driven manual fan, (with the engine off) check the fan clutch that holds the fan in place. It should be free of leaks and have slight resistance when you spin the fan. Also check for play or wobble in the shaft, which can be the result of a bad water pump or a failing fan clutch.

·        Obstructions - these can take the shape of engine "scale" blocking the cooling passages in the engine or radiator. Or they can be anything that restricts the flow of air through the radiator, such as bent fins, debris or body damage from an accident.

To keep your radiator in tip-top shape, it’s important to maintain proper coolant levels and flush the coolant system out as often as your car's manual suggests. General wear and tear and the age of your car will affect the efficiency and durability of your radiator. A properly maintained radiator can improve your gas mileage and the overall efficiency of your vehicle. Take good care of your radiator and it can last for 8–10 years, maybe even longer.

Visit your local O’Reilly Auto Parts and let our professional team help you find the right parts for your cooling system at our guaranteed low prices. From thermostats to radiator hoses you’ll find everything you need to keep your engine cool and running smooth. Stop by O’Reilly Auto Parts today.  O’Reilly Auto Parts.  Better Parts…Better Prices, Everyday! 

This newsletter is provided to you as a convenience and for informational purposes only.  Please do not rely on the information provided in this newsletter as an actual diagnosis of your vehicle’s problems.  Please always consult with a professional automotive repair technician to troubleshoot or fix problems concerning your vehicle.  Professional technicians have the equipment and knowledge necessary to fully troubleshoot the cause of problem(s) and recommend the needed repair(s) to your vehicle.  Accordingly, we shall not be liable for any claim, loss, or damage, including bodily injury, harm or death arising from any mistake, typographical error or your reliance on this newsletter as well as your failure to use safety equipment, follow safety procedures or consult with a professional automotive repair technician.  

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