There will come a time when the components of your engine cooling systems will require maintenance, repairs or replacement. Here are a few things you should know about the system that keeps your car from overheating:
Air and Water Cooling Systems
Most modern vehicles equipped with internal combustion engines have cooling systems that combine the cooling properties of air and water along with additives to maintain adequate optimal operational temperatures. The components that require to be cooled when the engine runs include the cylinders, the engine block and the oil lines.
The cooling system requires a flowing mechanism; the cooling function starts with a constant mass of air that is either generated by fans or through intake ports. Water mixed with coolant should also flow constantly to help with the cooling.
In electric vehicles, the engine does not require cooling as much as the batteries do. In models such as the Nissan Leaf, the internal temperature of the batteries is kept in check by an air cooling system that works better in mild climate regions. Tesla Motors prefers to build higher performance models with air and liquid cooling systems that will perform optimally in any climate.
The Water Pump
Coolant is mixed with water to create a liquid that will not easily reach the boiling point and to prevent it from freezing in the winter. The water pump extracts hot coolant from the engine and sends it to the radiator, which lowers the coolant temperature and returns it to the engine core via a network of hoses and channels. Water pumps are like the beating hearts of the cooling system, and even the most efficient are bound to become worn out at some point; when these parts start to leak or to make grinding and squealing noises, the best course of action is replacement. You should never listen to anyone who suggests going to the junkyard and pulling a water pump from a wrecked vehicle; only new or thoroughly rebuilt pumps should be installed in your car.
Radiator and Fan
Constant air flow is required for the radiator to serve its function as a heat exchanger, and this flow is provided by the air intake ports while the car is in motion. When the car is stationary, the fan takes over. In older models, the fan is powered by the engine; in modern cars, electric fans equipped with temperature sensors are more common since they contribute to fuel efficiency and do not use up horsepower. The fans are also crucial since they help to keep the engine cool in stop-and-go traffic. Some luxury and high-performance vehicles may have extra fans and radiators dedicated to keeping the engine oil cool on a separate basis.
Some overheating problems are easier to repair than others, such is the case of the thermostat, which controls the flow of coolant through the engine. Like the water pump, this is a part that needs to be exchanged with a new one at some point, and it is an inexpensive repair.
If your car is turbocharged, it probably has a secondary intercooling system that complements the primary engine cooling system. In essence, turbochargers aspirate air and force it with pressure into the engine to create a higher output of horsepower; however, the laws of thermodynamics dictate that the pressure boost will result in higher temperature, thus requiring intercooler systems that may feature a combination of air and water injection.
Lines and Hoses
Your car has an elaborate plumbing system of hoses and coolant lines that carry air and liquid to the channels and engine parts that need cooling. These lines are bound to wear out or become obstruct over time for various reasons, thereby interfering with the ideal functioning of the cooling system. Fortunately, issues with cooling lines are easy to diagnose and affordable to repair.