Maintaining Your Cooling System

Car Care
Tips

How to Maintain Your Cooling System Effectively

Maintaining your car, truck, or SUV's cooling system is vital to extending the life and efficiency of your engine. The coolant system distributes engine heat into the outside air in order to prevent overheating and to keep your vehicle running safely. A coolant flush and fill is basic maintenance for your cooling system, and will help ensure maximum performance from your vehicle's heating and cooling systems.

Let's take a look at your cooling system and what you can do to ensure it keeps running smoothly.

The Components of Your Cooling System

Coolant

Properly balanced mix of water and antifreeze that circulates throughout your engine to draw off heat.

Radiator

Primary component of your engine's cooling system, its purpose is to help remove heat from the engine. It relies on the water pump to help circulate the engine coolant through its core so it can release excess heat that has been absorbed by the engine coolant in the engine block.

Thermostat

Located between the engine and the radiator, the thermostat opens and closes. It's function is to block the flow of coolant into the engine until the engine has warmed up to operating temperature.

Water Pump

The heart of your cooling system, the water pump circulates the engine coolant throughout the entire cooling system.

Fan

Works with the thermostatic switch or engine computer to turn on when the temperature of the coolant goes above a set point to help cool down your radiator and prevent overheating

How to Maintain Your Cooling System

Check your car owner's manual to see the recommended interval for changing your antifreeze and flushing your coolant system. New antifreeze will help your car's engine run cooler, and flushing it will remove any dirt, rust or sediment which may damage the water pump and clog your engine water jacket and radiator.

If you're a do-it-yourselfer, be sure to always follow the instructions for maintenance listed in your owner's manual. Dispose of used antifreeze according to your local laws and regulations. Use a closed container to store it, and never let used antifreeze drain onto the ground or into storm drains.

Consider using a flush solution which can remove much more sediment and rust than normal water alone. Ask your local Pep Boys sales associate to help you find the best flush solution and antifreeze for your car.

Cooling System Warning Signs

Symptoms of Failure

Reasons for Failure

Heater isn't workingThermostat has failed
Coolant leakFaulty thermostat or fan making it impossible to adjust temperature
Poor gas mileageA restriction in coolant flow has occurred in the heater core or other area within the cooling system
Sweet smell under the hoodWater pump has internal seal or bearing failure
Coolant light comes onCorrosion or road debris has caused a hole in the radiator and/or heater core
Temperature gauge higher or lower than normalRadiator or heater hoses has failed
Overheating engineAge, heavy usage, salt and/or humidity