You don’t need to know as much as your car mechanic does about the combustion engine, but when it comes to the radiator it helps to understand a few basic principles. As you can imagine, the engine generates a lot of heat when operating under normal circumstances but for it to run efficiently, the engine block needs to be as cool as possible.
This is where your car radiator comes into play. If the engine overheats it can seize up and cause serious problems, especially if the pistons cannot move easily in their cylinders because of excessive friction. The radiator helps to avoid this problem by pumping a mixture of water and antifreeze through the chambers to absorb the heat and draw it away.
The radiator has a large surface area which enables the hot fluids to be spread through the internal folds where the action of the fan (and wind which flows into the engine as the car travels along the highway) causes the fluids to lose heat and return to normal temperature before being reused to cool the chambers once again.
Regular servicing of your motor vehicle will include checks of the radiator surface and hoses so that any emerging problems can be detected before they develop into something major. You can rely upon your mechanic to do this for you but there are other things which you can do yourself to keep your radiator in good condition.
- You can probably tell from the above brief description that the quality of the coolant used in the radiator is critical to its efficient operation. The correct coolant is specified by your manufacturer so if you decide to top it up at any stage make sure you use the correct one and mix in the appropriate amount of distilled water.
- Be aware that temperature variations because of the weather can have a dramatic impact upon the efficiency of your radiator. In hot climates or during summer, it is vital to carry out more regular radiator checks to make sure the coolant levels are at optimum levels. In most cars the coolant levels are easily observable in the reservoir and so it is a simple task to top them up.
- One of the greatest problems in a radiator is corrosion. The above steps will go a long way towards preventing this problem but you should also flush the radiator completely at least once every year, or more regularly if your mechanic deems it appropriate.
- Electrolysis is a problem that occurs when metals or different properties touch each other in the presence of an electrical current. This can cause rust to occur and this is nowhere more evident than in your radiator. Your mechanic will check this for you at regular service intervals.
- If you notice the presence of calcium build-up on your radiator it is best to leave it alone and take the car immediately to your service station for attention.
Keeping an eye on your radiator is an important part of overall car maintenance but you should always be wary of performing difficult repair tasks yourself. Your mechanic will have a more professional approach and it is better to leave your car in the hands of experts.
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