Mechanically Speaking: Your vehicle needs to stay cool and refreshed too

"We have had some smoking hot weather. I am sure you would agree. What better time to do a review on your vehicle’s cooling systems."

We have had some smoking hot weather. I am sure you would agree. What better time to do a review on your vehicle’s cooling systems. Yes, systems not system.

The antifreeze/water mixture that the water pump pushes through the engine and out to the radiator to get rid of waste heat energy and keep your engine from self destructing on a hot summer day is not the only cooling system on the vehicle.

There are a few other liquids in various vehicle systems that are also working to keep mechanical moving parts lubricated as well as cool.

Admittedly the engine’s cooling system handles the most heat as it is directly dealing with the waste heat of combustion. Roughly thirty percent of the energy in the $1.40 per litre gasoline you put in the tank exits as waste heat through your engine’s cooling system.

Your engine’s lifeblood, namely the engine oil is also a coolant for your engine. It is part of the engine’s lubrication system. It is not only required to prevent metal to metal wear. It is also tasked with removing heat from the engine by default. As the engine oil circulates it picks up waste heat from friction and combustion.

The system is designed with a sump or oil pan. The size and design of the oil pan is very much a factor in determining how much engine oil is required. There must be enough oil to supply the engine at a certain pressure, flow, and temperature. The extra volume in the oil pan allows the oil to cool before being sucked back up into the pump and sent through the engine.

When you neglect your oil level not only do you risk lubrication problems from lack of oil but also cooling problems. Most vehicles do not report oil temperature but you can be sure when you are running a litre or two low your engine oil is running hotter and once above a certain temperature the engine oil’s lubrication properties are compromised.

Whether your vehicle has a manual or automatic transmission again the lubricant is tasked with keeping that component both cool and lubricated. Manuals usually only rely on the sump or pan and its inherent volume and design to keep the lubricant cool enough. Automatic transmissions will use a sump plus an external radiator type cooler as they generate a lot more heat.

There is another often forgotten system that relies on the lubricant for cooling. It is especially stressed when you are pulling a trailer. This is the power steering system. These systems use very high fluid pressures to assist with changing the direction your wheels are pointed. This system creates the most heat when your vehicle is at close to rest and you  are backing your boat into the lake or your trailer into that tight camping spot. Sawing the wheel back and forth at close to a stop requires peak pressures.

That little power steering reservoir needs to remain full. In many cases power steering systems have external coolers open to the air for cooling.

So most of your vehicle’s lubricants are also acting as coolants.

As such the amounts must be kept at the correct level to ensure they not only lubricate properly but also remain below their design temperature.

When your mechanic is prepping your vehicle for the rigors of a hot summer he/she will be considering all the coolants not just the stuff under the radiator cap.

Trail’s Ron Nutini is a licensed automotive technician and graduate of mechanical engineering from UBC. E-mail:

Just Posted

Trail Kidney Walk followed by a rafting trip

Endless Adventures from the Slocan Valley will be guiding two trips down the Columbia River

Trail bus line readies to takeover Kelowna run

Silver City Stage Lines must have a booking site up by Sept. 30; two vehicles activated by Oct. 26

Grand Forks SAR rescue lost hunter

Grand Forks SAR was called out mid-afternoon Saturday for reports of a missing hunter

High hazard in downtown Trail

Roofing work began early Monday morning at the Trail Memorial Centre

More burning prohibitions rescinded in southeast B.C.

Category 2 and 3 fires will be permitted in Southeast Fire Centre as of 1p.m. on Wednesday.

B.C. RCMP turn to Const. Scarecrow to shock speeders into slowing down

New addition will watch over drivers from a Coquitlam median for first-of-its-kind pilot in Canada

East Kootenay town considers public smoking ban ahead of cannabis legalization

Under the proposed regulations, anyone caught smoking or vaping in public will face a $2000 fine

B.C. woman facing animal cruelty charges after emaciated dog seized

Kira, a Rottweiler, had kidney and bladder infections

Kim agrees to dismantle main nuke site if US takes steps too

Kim promised to accept international inspectors to monitor the closing of a key missile test site and launch pad and to visit Seoul soon.

Dozens speak at Vancouver hearing that could see duplexes replace single homes

The city clerk says 73 people signed up to speak at the hearing that began early Tuesday evening and adjourned hours later with 34 speakers still waiting.

North Carolina gov pleads with storm evacuees to be patient

The death toll rose to at least 37 in three states Tuesday, with 27 fatalities in North Carolina.

North and South Korea say they plan to bid for 2032 Olympics

Moon and Kim announced a sweeping set of agreements including a vow to work together to host the Summer Olympics in 2032.

Russia’s reinstatement after doping scandal goes to a vote

The World Anti-Doping Agency is due to vote Thursday Sept. 20, 2018, on possible reinstatement of Russia.

Ontario wins stay on ruling that struck down council-cutting plan

The province had argued the stay was necessary to eliminate uncertainty surrounding the Oct. 22 vote, and the Court of Appeal agreed.

Most Read