Although spring is afoot, there is still a slight chill in the air, especially in the beginning of the season. Some people think that they do not have to worry about overheating, but nothing can be further from the truth. A car can overheat in any season, so it is very important that you take care of your radiator and the rest of your cooling system. You should also include this important task to your regular general car maintenance schedule.
What is a Radiator and How Does it Work
A radiator is an important part of the cooling system in a vehicle. It is made of two header tanks that are connected by a core that is a network of tubes to carry coolant throughout. It is located in the front of the car to maximize the exposure to the outside air. The collection of tubes typically resembles a honeycomb. Most radiators are made with plastic tanks and an aluminum core. As the coolant travels from the engine, the ambient air cools it and the cooled liquid is cycled back to the engine to repeat the process. If the radiator fails to work, the excessive heat from the engine will build up and cause the engine to smoke and stop working.
Inspecting the Radiator
The radiator should be part of your regular general car maintenance. When the engine is cold, you should inspect the radiator to make sure that there are not spots of corrosion and that the hoses are supple with no holes or tears. Make sure that the radiator cap is securely seated and properly secured. Make sure that the case does not have any cracks that will expand and contract with the temperature changes. When you take off the radiator cap, proceed slowly and with caution. The radiator is pressurized and if you remove the cap too quickly, the steam will rapidly escape and cause severe burns. Be sure to wear protective eyewear when performing any work on your car. Check to see if you have the proper level of fluid and top it off if it is low. If you have access to a power washer, you can use it to flush out the radiator and add new fluid if you notice any sediment floating. If your radiator is not conducive to receiving a flushing, make sure to have your mechanic look at it.
Quick Solutions to Simple Problems
If you notice a problem with performance, you may need to check several areas to determine the cause. If your car is overheating, you should check the radiator cap. Make sure that it is securely in place. A loose cap results in a loss of pressure and will cause overheating. Check to make sure that the seal around the cap is providing a good fit. The seal will prevent any radiator fluid from boiling over and out of the radiator. You can also replace the entire cap that already has a new seal on it. Overheating can also be caused by a jammed plunger, the part that is located in the top of the inner portion of the radiator cap. If the spring is broken, the plunger can become stuck or jammed and allow the hot fluid to overflow out of the radiator instead of it flowing up and through the network of tubing. If you notice any rust spots on the radiator cap, you should clean it off with a steel brush or purchase a new one. The rust can flake off and deposit in the coolant, which can cause overheating. When you maintain your car, you can prevent overheating and make your springtime traveling enjoyable for everyone.