I have been watching my vehicle’s temperature gauge a lot lately. Have you? Yes, summer is here and it feels good but remember we all have our temperature limits and so does your vehicle.
I wrote once on how modern day vehicles do not break down as often in hot weather as they used to but one overheat can have very deleterious results.
Your vehicle’s cooling system is made up of a lot more parts than just a radiator and when the going gets hot, each and every component must be top notch especially when towing is part of your repertoire.
Maintenance is the key to keeping each and every component functioning at the level it was designed to.
Not only should your radiator be clean and free flowing inside but it also must be clean and free flowing outside.
Yes, the air must have free path through the radiator in order to remove the heat from the coolant within.
Driving around with a huge collection of river moths on your grill is not doing your radiator a favour at all. These carcasses must be removed on a regular basis.
Part of the design of the front of your vehicle was to channel air through the radiator and other heat shedding devices in front of it.
There are sometimes several different cooling units sort of stacked together at the front of the vehicle. If your car has air conditioning there will be a condenser in front of the radiator. There may also be an auxiliary oil cooler for the engine, another for the automatic transmission and even one for the power steering fluid.
The placement of these coolers is important and you may find that there are pieces of plastic positioned so that they seal the ends of the coolers and cover the spaces between each of them.
This ensures that as much of the air as possible will be guided through.
A very important piece of the cooling system is known as a spoiler. This is the part that very often catches on the curb when you park your car too close to the curb. Maybe a frozen winter snow bank has stolen this piece from your vehicle.
To stay cool your vehicle needs this piece. When the vehicle is moving it creates a low pressure area under the front of the vehicle and helps draw air through the engine compartment and out under the vehicle.
One very important part of a cooling system is the coolant itself.
It has to be the correct mixture to cool properly as well as prevent corrosion of the system. Pure antifreeze is thick and does not transfer heat well.
A 50-50 mixture of antifreeze and water is usually the required mix for best summer performance. Keeping the coolant from boiling away is the radiator cap which must maintain the proper pressure on the coolant. This prevents the coolant from boiling away.
It is possible that you are unaware of some components that might not have been functioning all winter but now your engine will not live without them.
These are cooling fans. Electric ones especially. Many of these are auxiliary and as such may not be required during the cooler months. During these times they may cease to function and no one is the wiser.
That first hot day when the operation of these devices are mandatory your temperature gauge needle will be heading for the “H” and nothing will get in its way.
Trail’s Ron Nutini is a licensed automotive technician and graduate of mechanical engineering from UBC. He writes in column every other Thursday. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org