Engine Cooling System There are thousands of controlled explosions called combustion events which are caused by igniting a fuel air mixture inside the combustion chamber. These explosions are converted into thrust throughout the engine while producing an amount of heat. High temperatures would make the engine overheat if not for the cooling system. Visit - Engine overheats. The cooling system is a pressurized, sealed circulation system that consists of seven major components:
Step 1 - Anti-Freeze/Coolant Fluid is used to dissipate heat away from the engine's block and cylinder heads. Most engine's have an optimum operating temperature of around 200 degrees Fahrenheit or about 93 degrees Celsius. This temperature is maintained using a thermostat which is designed to allow coolant to flow throughout the system. Normal water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, or 100 degrees Celsius, and freezes at 0 Celsius or 32 degrees Fahrenheit, where as coolant boils at 223 degrees and freezes well below 32 degrees. Coolant is also used to avoid corrosion which can damage vital engine parts such as gaskets and intake manifold. The cooling system is held under pressure while under operation, between 13-15 psi (pounds per square inch.) This additional pressure helps the coolant gain additional boiling point temperatures at a rate of one degree for every two pounds of pressure. For example; when a cooling system is held at 18 pounds of pressure it raises the boiling point by 9 degrees. Always check the radiator coolant level when the engine is cold. Visit - Cooling system flush Visit - Engine Coolant Visit - Coolant leak
Step 2 - Water Pump
Water Pump (Serpentine Belt Removed)
Step 3 - Cooling Thermostat A thermostat is a temperature sensitive device located in the thermostat housing. The thermostat housing is located at the engine, in either the upper or lower hose connections. This thermostat restricts the coolant from the radiator until the engine has reach operating temperature which is about 195°. This allows for the engine to be run at specific temperatures to optimize the performance and emissions levels. When a thermostat sticks closed, it will cause the engine to overheat quickly, usually within 5 to 15 minutes of engine operation. Visit - Thermostat test Step 4 - Radiator
A radiator is used to transfer heat from the engine coolant to the outside atmosphere via the cooling fins of the radiator. When air is forced through these fins either with the assistance of the cooling fan or the vehicles forward motion it lowers the temperature of the coolant which is then moved to the engine to re-start the cycle of heating and cooling. The amount of heat transferred from the coolant depends on the surface area of the radiator core. Automatic transmission vehicles, utilize a fluid cooler inside the radiator. The radiator cap acts like a pressure release valve, as the pressure increases due to heat, the cap allows the excess coolant to enter the reservoir. Then, when the engine has cooled, coolant is returned to the radiator through suction. Most radiators are made of an aluminum core, and plastic side tanks. Visit - Radiator replacement
Step 5 - Cooling Fan The cooling fan is located directly behind the radiator and is used to pull air through the radiator at lower vehicle speeds to keep the engine from overheating. Cooling fans can either be mechanical which are belt driven, or electric, mounted on the radiator and temperature or utility controlled. Visit - Electric cooling fan replacement A radiator cooling fan is powered by either the engine, or by an electric motor. When a cooling fan fails, it causes the coolant to retain heat, forcing the engine to run hot and eventually overheat. Cooling fans that is powered by the engine are engaged and disengaged by operating temperature which is controlled by a fan clutch. Visit - Fan clutch
Radiator Cooling Fans
Step 6 - Coolant Hoses Engine coolant is transferred to various sections of the cooling system via cooling hoses. These hoses are double-walled nylon reinforced pre-molded units capable of withstanding high temperatures while enduring engine vibrations. Part of a routine maintenance schedule should be the inspection of the cooling system hoses. When inspecting these hoses there are a few things to look for that would warrant replacement: oil saturation, cracks, abrasions, seepage and clamp tightness. Visit - Coolant leaks.
Step 7 - Serpentine Belt A serpentine belt is used to transfer energy from the engine to the cooling fan on clutch fan style of cooling fans. This belt must be maintained for the fan to operate properly. Visit - Serpentine belt replacement
Removing Serpentine Belt
Helpful Information The engine's combustion chamber can reach temperatures of up over four thousand degrees Fahrenheit. About thirty percent of the fuel is converted into actual power, and the remaining seventy percent is developed into heat. A cooling system protects an engine from damage by transferring heat to the atmosphere by using the radiator. A correct operating temperature is critical for the proper function of the engine which is controlled by the thermostat. Car manufacturers have found that a 195° thermostat is optimum for efficiency. Below this threshold the catalytic converter will not work properly which will produce increased emissions. In the beginning, water was used for cooling systems, as it's the most efficient fluid to absorb and dissipate heat. The disadvantage of using water is that it freezes at a higher temperature and, boils at a lower temperature than coolant besides causing rust. Eventually, water was mixed with ethylene glycol, which worked as an anti-freeze agent, it also increased the boiling point of the mixture. Low levels of coolant can lead to problems related to engine overheating.