Most people know that an automobile's engine and transmission need to be maintained, but it is not uncommon to overlook the vehicle's cooling system. Heat is the enemy of the engine and transmission, and the cooling system plays an important role in keeping the engine and transmission at the proper temperature so they are not damaged. Use the following tips to maintain your car's cooling system and help prevent expensive auto repairs:
Use the Right Antifreeze
Antifreeze is essential to the cooling system, and it has a very low freezing point and a very high boiling point. When it comes to antifreeze, it is very important to use the exact type recommended by your car's manufacturer. You should be able to learn what type of antifreeze should be used by reading the owners manual; if you can't find the information in the owners manual, visit an auto repair shop and consult a mechanic to learn what type of antifreeze to use for your make and model.
Ensure that the Cooling System is Properly Pressurized
When your car is running, the coolant can become extremely hot but it is important that the liquid does not begin to boil. A properly pressurized cooling system allows the coolant to heat up without coming to a boil. If the cooling system is not held at the right pressure, the coolant can get too hot and the engine and transmission can sustain damage. It is a good idea to have the pressure sealing capabilities of your car's radiator cap tested regularly to ensure that the right pressure is being maintained.
Have the Radiator Flushed
As you accumulate miles on your vehicle, sludge and dirt can begin to build up within the cooling system. When this happens, the coolant in the vehicle will not work as efficiently. A buildup of sludge and dirt in the cooling system can also lead to damage of the radiator, water pump, and the engine. You can fix this issue by having your radiator flushed to remove the buildup. Consult the owners manual to see the vehicle's manufacturer's recommended service schedule to find out how often a radiator flush should be done on your make and model.
Get Your Cooling System Inspected
It is a good idea to get in the habit of taking your car into an auto repair shop to have the cooling system inspected. A mechanic will check the coolant levels and inspect the hoses connected to the radiator and heater; if the hoses are cracked or splitting, they will need to be replaced. During this type of inspection, the mechanic will also check the serpentine belt (older vehicles) or the timing belt/chain (newer vehicles) to ensure that they are in good repair.