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Cooling System: Maintenance and Tech Tips

Aside from the water pump, there are three main components of a vehicle’s engine cooling system: the radiator, heater core and coolant.  Although these three components have no moving parts, their maintenance is vital for long-term durability and vehicle performance.  What is even more critical is how important their roles in overall vehicle operation have become with today’s complex systems.


Like most consumers, many follow the adage, "if it's not broke, don't fix it" and only address their engine cooling system after it’s too late.  Unfortunately, by this time, the damage is already done and they may be looking at a sizeable repair bill and a lot of inconvenience.  For those customers who do take an active part in vehicle maintenance, it’s important to stress that some preventive medicine is necessary and there is a difference in the replacement components and repair services they choose.


Here are a few preventive service tips anyone can perform at least once a year to keep their engine cooling systems running at peak performance:


  1. Inspect all connections and components for leaks.
  2. Inspect all hose clamps and fittings; tighten if necessary
  3. inspect all hoses and belts and replace them if they are cracked, worn or deteriorated.
  4. Never use tap water when adding a 50/50 mixture of coolant/water to the vehicle.  Always use distilled or demineralized water to prevent corrosion.
  5. Be sure your coolant level is at the appropriate level, top it off only with a 50/50 mix of the OE coolant type and distilled or demineralized water.
  6. Check the condition of the radiator cap and replace it if the gasket is worn.
  7. If engine temperature varies from running too hot or too cool under normal operating conditions, a faulty thermostat or cooling fan may be the problem.  Proper fan speed must be maintained to keep air flowing consistently through the radiator.  Fan clutch slippage or faulty electronic control units can cause the fan RPM to vary.



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