6 parts that keep your engine cool

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car repair
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Although the engines are different from each other, most engines share a similar concept when it comes to engine cooling. Your cooling system is designed for one thing: to regulate the temperature of the engine while it is running. Here are 6 main parts that make up your engine’s cooling system.

1. Coolant

Let’s start with the fluid that makes it all happen. Coolant, or antifreeze, absorbs the heat produced by your engine and discharges it to your radiator for cooling. This process is called liquid cooling and keeps your engine at its maximum operating temperature. Without coolant, your cooling system would not work and your engine would overheat quickly.

Coolant is available in many different mixtures and colors, but in general it is usually mixed with 50% water and 50% antifreeze. The different colors between the coolants come from the additives which are mixed in order to increase the protection against corrosion. For example, Mishimoto Liquid Chill combines a non-toxic propylene glycol base with unique polyorganic additives to extend shelf life while protecting against overflow temperatures up to 265 ° F.

2. Water pump

Also known as a coolant pump, the water pump can be thought of as the heart of your cooling system. The job of the water pump is to regulate the flow of coolant and to circulate the coolant steadily through the engine as well as the rest of the components of your cooling system. When a water pump fails, coolant will not be able to flow at the rate necessary to keep the engine cool, which will cause your engine to overheat.

3. Radiator

As coolant enters your engine, it absorbs some of the heat that the engine creates to help your engine stay cool before returning to the radiator, the central component of your engine’s cooling system.

The radiator is made up of two main parts, the core and the end tanks. The core of the radiator is a large metal block with integrated rows of metal fins. Coolant flows through the rows while air passes through the radiator fins as you drive. Heat is then transferred from the coolant to the cool air flowing through it, reducing the temperature of the fluid before recirculating through the system.

End tanks, which are typically made from factory plastic, are the side pieces that keep the coolant in the system under pressure. Due to the massive amount of heat flowing through the radiator, plastic end tanks tend to crack and leak, which is why we prefer all aluminum radiators, which are more durable and are a major upgrade over the stock plastic models.

4. Radiator hoses

The main work of radiator hoses is to create a passage for your coolant to flow from the engine to the radiator. Although it may seem simple, many factory designed hoses are made from inexpensive rubber in order to keep production costs low. Over time, the pipes begin to crack and leak due to repeated heat cycles. One solution is to replace your rubber hoses with silicone hoses, which are much more durable and heat resistant.

5. Thermostat

On a hot summer day, your home can get very hot until it reaches a certain temperature at which your thermostat can tell the air conditioning to turn on. It is relatively the same concept in an engine thermostat. An automotive thermostat monitors engine temperature and will regulate the flow of coolant from the radiator to keep the engine at maximum operating temperatures. For example, when the engine is cold, the thermostat will remain closed and will not allow any coolant to enter the engine so that it can warm up. On the other hand, when it reaches its maximum operating temperature, the thermostat can open to allow this flow of coolant to enter and do its job of cooling the engine.

Thermostats are a common weak point on the cooling system for older cars. As we age, thermostats sometimes get stuck in the open or closed position. In the event of a stuck open thermostat, there would be a continuous flow of coolant cooling the engine regardless of engine temperature, which would overcool your engine and reduce engine efficiency. When a thermostat is stuck closed, coolant will not be able to flow to the engine, causing your engine to overheat. Fortunately, thermostats are a fairly inexpensive component to replace.

6. Radiator fans

Sometimes the natural airflow is just not enough for your radiator. This is especially important when the car is stationary or traveling at low speed, where there is little or no air passing. Radiator fans are designed to draw cool air through the car’s radiator when the coolant reaches a certain temperature whether the car is in motion or not. When a radiator fan fails, the temperature of the coolant rises rapidly if it is not receiving enough air to keep it cold.

Eric Zuo’s story


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