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Your vehicle’s cooling system performs two primary functions. The first function is to keep the engine from overheating by flowing coolant throughout. The second function is to provide heat inside the vehicle.
When your vehicle is first started, the engine is relatively cold. It does not take much time for it to heat up based on all of the moving parts within the engine, however. Without a cooling system in place, the engine would eventually overheat.
Here is an overview of how the cooling system works:
How Your Car’s Cooling System Works
The engine uses a coolant (often referred to as antifreeze) to flow through the engine because it has a higher boiling point than water as well as anti-corrosive properties that water does not have.
The water pump is the mechanism that forces the water to flow through the cooling system via a network of hoses, and it is set in motion by a drive belt or your engines timing belt. Over time, drive belts need to be replaced, and therefore should be inspected periodically (i.e. whenever you have your oil changed.) The life of the belts will vary by manufacturer. The water pump will typically last 60,000 to 90,000 miles and we recommend replacing your timing belt and other drive belts any time you replace your water pump since there is a lot of labor involved and those components usually need to come off in the process.
The coolant flowing throughout the cooling system is restricted from flowing to the heater core by a thermostat, which is a heat-sensitive device that opens only after the engine reaches a certain temperature. This is to allow for the engine to heat up first, as it will run more efficiently when it is warmer. Once the coolant is flowing past the thermostat it reaches the heater core – which is how you get heat inside the car. When you turn on your heat switch, a fan motor engages blowing across the heater core – which now has warm coolant inside of it – thus generating heat for the passenger compartment.
Last, but certainly not least is the radiator, which is the component that most people are familiar with because it sits right in the front of the engine compartment. The radiator houses most of the coolant and keeps the coolant temperature low by allowing air to flow through its coils as the car is driving. When the car is not in motion, the cooling fan is triggered to turn on in order to draw more air through the radiator coils. This is why you may hear your cooling fan turn on while you are sitting at a traffic light. Please note that most cooling systems have an overflow reservoir off to the side of the engine compartment to account for the expansion and contraction of coolant volume as the car engine heats up and cools down.
Over time the cooling system needs to be flushed and have the coolant replaced for a variety of reasons, but most importantly is that the anti-corrosion properties of the coolant only last about 2-3 years (depending on the type used). If your system has had any leaks and the proper ratio of water to coolant was not used, it could hinder the performance of the cooling system.
Cooling System Services We Perform:
- Cooling System Flush
- Drive Belt / Timing Belt Replacement
- Radiator Repair & Replacement
- Coolant Leak Diagnosis
- Cooling Fan / Blower Fan Repair & Replacement
- Overheating Diagnostics
- Heater System Diagnostics
- Heater Core Replacement
Ready to Make An Appointment For Your Cooling System Service?
At Kneble’s Auto Service Center we always want to make the process of getting your car serviced as convenient as possible. To ensure that we can get your car serviced in a timely manner, we ask that you make an appointment for your cooling system service.
We are able to accommodate those who desire to wait for their tune-up as we feature a comfortable waiting area complete with TV, complimentary refreshments, a library, desk, and a charging station. And yes, we even have free Wi-Fi!
In some cases, we may determine that the car needs to stay overnight either due to the time required for service or the unavailability of parts.
If you need service and have not made an appointment you can always feel free to call us at (609) 625-3286 to get on the schedule.
Please note that we offer a shuttle service within a 10 miles radius of the shop (Somers Point, Ocean City, Margate, Brigantine, and surrounding areas).
Frequently Asked Questions About Cooling System Services:
There could be a variety of reasons for overheating including low coolant (accompanied by a coolant leak), a cooling fan not working, a malfunctioning thermostat, or in an extreme case, a worn-out head gasket. Similar to calling your doctor with symptoms, it is next to impossible to give an accurate diagnosis of your car overheating problem without inspecting the vehicle and doing some diagnostic testing. We recommend making an appointment to have one of our cooling system specialists have a look at your car so we can pinpoint the problem for you.
It is very likely that your heater core is leaking and requires replacement. Please contact us to make an appointment to have a further inspection.
If your car is equipped with a warning light letting you know that your car is overheating, you should find a safe place to pull over (preferably off of the road) as soon as possible. We do not recommend opening the hood to inspect the system yourself because of the risk of injury due to steam or coolant that is extremely hot). Contact your emergency roadside assistance provider and ask them to tow your vehicle to Kneble’s Auto Service Center, so we can inspect your car. If your car overheats and you continue to drive it, please know that you can risk doing major (and costly) engine damage.