Vehicle Radiator Maintenance: Ideal Temperature Equals Optimal Performance

Posted on 11 April 2014 by Tony Santos

Radiator Repair

All cars require regular maintenance in order to reduce trips to the repair shop and insure optimal performance. Routine oil changes, tire pressure checks, inspection of radiator hoses and other rubber parts, should be performed regularly to obtain better fuel mileage, and reduce wear and tear on vital engine and suspension components.

Although often neglected, maintaining your vehicle’s cooling system should be a requisite component of regular car care. Adequate vehicle operation is as dependent upon maintaining appropriate engine operating temperature, as it is upon adequate lubrication of moving parts. Engine overheating can leave you stranded, but more importantly can reduce the lifespan of your engine. Regular radiator maintenance is the key to making sure your car runs at appropriate temperatures, even in the most extreme conditions.

Checking radiator fluid levels is as simple as unscrewing the radiator cap, and visually checking the fluid level inside. This is best done when you first start your engine, to make certain that the entire cooling system is fully flooded, and to prevent injury from hot radiator fluid, should it be overheated.

Radiator fluid may be replaced with either antifreeze or water, but should typically be a mixture of both. The engine overfill reservoir should also be filled. Engine coolant, or antifreeze, in addition to its superior cooling properties may also contain additives to prevent corrosion to engine parts. Your owner’s manual contains recommendations for ideal fluid mixtures in individual operating conditions. Usually, a mixture of half water and half antifreeze is a good rule of thumb. This mixture will prevent the fluid from either freezing or boiling, with normal operation, in most weather conditions. Bringing your vehicle to normal operating temperature will insure that the entire cooling system is filled to adequate coolant levels.

Flushing your radiator annually or semi-annually is an additional step to prevent cooling system rust or contamination. As you examine the level of fluid in your radiator, you can observe the appearance if the coolant. If you see dark floating specks, or if the fluid is notably different in color from its standard yellowish-green appearance, your vehicle needs a cooling system flush. Excessive radiator sedimentation or contamination can lead to other problems, as it clogs the cooling system, or otherwise diminishes its ability to maintain appropriate temperature.

Once you have filled your system with the proper blend of fluids and checked that appropriate fluid levels have been reached, make certain to replace and tighten your radiator cap. Since fluids flow to and from your radiator to various areas of your engine, it is important to check for radiator hose damage or deterioration. Hoses showing signs of wear should be replaced immediately to prevent fluid leakage.

You should always be alert to signs that your car may be overheating, or that your cooling system hoses are damaged. Of course, your dashboard temperature gauge is the best and earliest indicator. Steam or burning odors emanating from under your automobile hood is a sure sign of trouble. Turn off your engine immediately. Fluid leakage may be causing the odor, but overheating is the most likely cause. Never open your radiator cap, until you can make certain that your radiator is cool, and will not boil up and cause injury. Spots under your vehicle may indicate that your radiator or its hoses have been damaged.

This article was provided by Essential Industrial, suppliers of lubricant products, oils and greases for all your automotive needs.

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