This week on Orozco’s Tires 101 Blog, we’re keeping our cool. We’re gonna cover your vehicle’s engine cooling system, how it works, and why it might need work.
Coolant, or antifreeze, is, simply put, the fluid responsible for absorbing and dissipating heat from the engine by flowing through the engine, then outside of the engine and through the radiator where it cools off and is cycled again. It is made from a mixture of either ethylene or propylene glycol and water, usually in a 1:1 ratio. A coolant service entails draining and flushing your car’s cooling system, then refilling it with fresh coolant.
Coolant will accumulate dirt and rust particles over time, which can clog up your engine’s cooling system and cause problems, especially during extreme temperatures. In addition, since it operates in an extremely hot environment, coolant experiences chemical breakdown over time which breaks down its rust inhibiting chemicals and will cause your engine and radiator to begin to corrode.
If your antifreeze’s rust inhibitors stop working, then your engine’s cooling system will begin to rust from the inside out, starting from your engine block. Over time, the rust particles which get into your coolant will also clog the tiny passages within the radiator and cause your engine to overheat, possibly resulting in you needing a new engine and a few thousand dollars in parts and labor just to get your car running again.
Your vehicle owner’s manual should tell you how often to check and replace your coolant. If you check your coolant level when the engine is cold, it should be at or above the “minimum” line on the transparent reservoir. If your engine is hot, it should be at or slightly below the “max” line. You can tell your engine temperature from looking at the temperature gauge on your dashboard.
Coolant disappearing can only mean one thing: a leak. You may have either an internal or external leak. Internal leaks are harder to diagnose and more expensive to fix, but both require immediate attention since running low or dry on coolant can easily cause catastrophic engine failure.
If where you live the temperature drops below freezing, you might want to check the concentration of your coolant. Diluted coolant can freeze when the temperature drops below freezing and crack your engine, negating the antifreeze part of its job.
It is worth noting that antifreeze has a sweet smell and taste which many pets are attracted to, and that even small amounts can easily kill the average sized pet if ingested. There is no way to make it less appealing to animals without sabotaging its function, but antifreeze made with propylene glycol instead of the more common ethylene glycol is only about a third as toxic. If you have pets, it can be worth taking care to only use propylene glycol antifreeze.
Here at Orozco’s Tires & Wheels in Long Beach, we can take care of any of your coolant problems and keep your car cool. If you think that you may be having problems with your car’s coolant system, call Orozco’s Tires & Wheels today at (844)-676-9267. Our team of state certified, professionally trained mechanics can fix any of your cooling problems guaranteed!