Cooling System Service and Repair
One of the most common reasons for a vehicle to be towed-in is because of engine overheating. Overheating is one of the leading causes in engine failure. As the coolant temperature in the engine rises above 230 degrees, the extremely close tolerances in the engine can become distorted and can result in engine having to disassembled and rebuilt or replaced.
Your radiator protects your engine and air conditioning condenser from overheating. It also plays another important role. In today’s computer-controlled engines, a radiator coolant temperature sensor actually tells your car’s computer and other sensors how to adjust your fuel mixture and timing.So, the efficiency of your radiator directly effects the efficiency of your engine. Whenever a fluid is in contact with metal electrochemical degradation takes place which results in a higher than normal level of acid present in any given fluid. This higher acid level, if left unchanged, can result in very costly repairs. As a result, it is recommended to flush your cooling system, and most importantly pH balance your antifreeze at least once every two years or 30,000 miles.
This will help reduce the acid level and extend the life of your radiator, heater core, water pump, head gaskets, freeze plugs, radiator and heater hoses.
One of the easiest ways to prevent costly engine damage is to regularly have your cooling system serviced and have your hoses inspected. This way a minor probelm can be fixed before it turns into a major engine overheating issue.
Cooling System Power Flush
Why is it important to have your cooling system flushed by a knowledgeable repair shop with all the right equipment?Why can’t you do it yourself? You have probably heard many times that your cooling system should be –35 degrees, and you wonder why, when it never gets that cold.
The reason is: water is the best conductor of heat because the molecules are spaced far apart and heat can move into the water easily. The problem with water is, it’s corrosive when in contact with metal and can freeze.
Ethylene glycol silicone based antifreeze is added to the water; to protect the metal, keep the water from freezing, and lubricate only the moving parts in the cooling system such as the water pump and thermostat.
If you use 100% antifreeze, the engine may overheat in hot weather with or without your air conditioning on. The reason is antifreeze molecules are packed tightly together and are unable to remove the heat from the engine as efficiently as water.
The condenser for your car’s air conditioning operates much hotter than the radiator; that’s why it is placed in front of the radiator. The radiator dissipates the heat from your air conditioning condenser and this makes the coolant even hotter!
With today’s new computer controlled engines the coolant temperature, is the most important. The temperature sensor tells the computer, along with other sensors, how to adjust the fuel air mixture and ignition timing. This may affect engine performance and efficiency.
For the best heat removal and metal protection 50% water and 50% antifreeze is desired. The proper mix is determined by checking the coolant level; -35 degrees equals 50/50.
The problem comes when the pH of the water is 7.0 to 7.2 and antifreeze pH is 10.5 right out of the gallon. A 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze would have a pH factor of 8.75. This level is too acidic for today’s cooling systems. The recommended pH level should be between 9.8 and 10.05; this level greatly reduces the acid content that together with electrochemical reaction of dissimilar causes electrochemical degradation.
To correct the above condition, you need to power flush your coolant system by continuously forcing the coolant under pressure through the engine, radiator, and heater core in both directions at different times.
Once this is done, antifreeze and water is added to the system while circulating to bring it to the desired –35 degrees throughout the system evenly.
We then add a pH concentrate while still circulating the coolant to evenly reach a pH level of 10.5 throughout the system. We stop at 10.5 pH because over time, as the hot coolant follows through the system, it will slowly become more acidic as described above. The coolant should stay within the safe range of 9.8 to 10.5 pH level for about two years or 30,000 miles.
We also pressure test the system for leaks, clean the recovery bottle and test the radiator cap to see if it holds the proper pressure.
- Pressure test cooling system for leaks
- Flush engine, radiator and heater core in both directions
- Bring antifreeze to –35 degrees
- Balance coolant pH level to between 9.8 and 10.5
- Visually inspect radiator cooling fan for proper operation
- Visually inspect heater operation