Automotive Cooling System

Radiator Basics and Auto Repair Tips

car repair service

Your cooling system is what keeps your car from having a meltdown. Whether you’re cruising down the highway at 75 miles per hour or stuck in a 10-block traffic jam at rush hour, your cooling system is working hard to keep your engine operating at the right temperature. If you didn’t have some way to cool things off, your engine would turn into a solid block of useless metal in no time flat. These days your cooling system has a bigger job than just keeping the radiator from belching steam all over the place.

Your engine is designed to run at an optimum temperature. This is not just the best temperature for performance, it’s more about maintaining the right conditions for all of your emission control systems to function at their peak. That’s why your engine has so many ways to heat up quickly on a cold morning!  All of the parts that make up the cooling system have one goal of moving coolant around the engine so it can absorb and dissipate heat. The basic system is made up of the following components:

Basic Components of an Automotive Cooling System

      1. radiator
      2. radiator top hose
      3. radiator bottom hose
      4. water pump
      5. thermostat
      6. thermostat housing
      7. electric cooling fan
      8. thermo-time switch

The numbers correspond with the diagram. Below is a definition of each component

 The radiator is the most prominent part of the system. Coolant that has traveled through the engine is pumped through the tubes of the radiator and is cooled off for another round. The radiator has many channels on the inside so that the coolant travels all over the place, dissipating heat at every turn. It also has lots of cooling fins on the outside. These fins increase the surface area so that even more heat can escape into the air flowing around the radiator.

Radiator Hoses Your cooling system has a number of rubber hoses that move the fluid from one place to the other. These need to be replaced before they become brittle and cracked. Even the smallest hose can fail and leave you on the side of the road.

Water Pump The water pump does what you think it does – pumps the coolant through the system. The pump is belt driven, except in the case of some race cars that use an electric water pump. If your water pump is leaking coolant under the car, this is a heads-up to replace the water pump when you can.

Thermostat Your engine isn’t always the same temperature. When you start it on a cold morning, you want it to get warm quickly to get the emission controls working fully. If you stop in traffic, you want it to cool itself off. The thermostat controls the flow of coolant so that it cools down more or less depending on the temperature of the coolant. It rests in a housing just after the radiator bottom hose.

Electric Cooling Fan Many cars these days have an electric fan for either primary or added cooling. The fan draws air through the radiator when you aren’t moving fast enough to get things cooled down. There is often also an electric fan on the air conditioning system.

Thermo Time Switch Also known as the fan switch, this is the temperature sensor that tells the electric fan when to blow. When the coolant reaches a given temperature, the electric cooling fan switches on to draw more air through the radiator.  Please visit Auto Repair Cary NC for more tips about automotive repair.

Oil Change Facts

Do I Need To Change The Oil In My Car or Truck Every 3000 miles?

change the oil on your car

The answer is No. According to every auto manufacturer we’ve talked to. The main advocates of the 3,000-mile oil change schedule are those who would profit by it: repair facilities, quick-lube chains and service departments at some new-car dealers.

Years ago it was a good idea to change the oil and filter frequently, but because of advances in engine materials and tighter tolerances, as well as the oil that goes into engines, most manufacturers recommend intervals of 7,500 miles or more.

Ford, Volkswagen and Porsche, for example, recommend oil changes every 10,000 miles. So does Toyota on several engines, including the Prius’ 1.8-liter four-cylinder and the Camry’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder. BMW says owners can go up to 15,000 miles between oil changes (with synthetic oil).

The intervals vary by manufacturer and engines, so consult your owner’s manual or maintenance schedule to see how often to change the oil in your vehicle and what type of oil to use. You may be surprised. We were surprised to learn that the Camry’s 2.5-liter engine requires 0W20 synthetic oil, for instance.

Manufacturers suggest you change oil more often for “severe” driving conditions, such as frequent trailer towing, extensive stop-go driving or idling in traffic, driving in extreme heat or cold, or frequent short-distance driving in which the engine doesn’t reach full operating temperature.

Some car companies, Ford and General Motors among them, equip most vehicles with oil life monitors that tell you when it’s time to change the oil based on vehicle speed, engine temperature, climate conditions, number of cold starts and other factors. They can all cite examples from owners who say the oil-life monitors indicated they could go even longer than the recommended change intervals.

If you’re nervous about going 10,000 miles or more between oil changes, then do it every six months, when you probably should also have your tires rotated (also explained in your owner’s manual). GM says to change your oil at least once a year even if the service indicator warning light doesn’t come on. With longer recommended intervals between oil changes, it’s more important to check the oil level at least once a month to make sure you have enough.

But to change oil every 3,000 miles is probably wasting money. Environmentalists say it also adds to the glut of used oil that must be recycled or disposed.

If the guy at the quick-lube shop says he’s only trying to help you when he recommends frequent oil changes, consider this: It is not in the interest of an auto manufacturer for you to suffer premature engine failure caused by worn-out oil. If that happens, they might have to pay for repairs under warranty and probably will lose you as a customer. Yet, they’re the ones advising you to follow longer oil-change intervals.