At Legendary Automotive and Truck Service we have the occasional misfortune of having a vehicle come in that has serious damage from overheating.
As you can imagine, this problem is worse in Florida than in most states; the year-round summer here that we enjoy causes serious problems when something causes a problem with your car, truck, or SUV’s radiator and coolant system.
When an engine overheats, it is definitely not good. The result can be warping of engine components, serious damage, and sometimes even the engine seizing as the parts that are supposed to move are welded together by the intense heat.
When parts inside the engine weld themselves it means one thing - your engine has been absolutely destroyed, and it is going to need to be replaced.
Understanding the potential for problems with engine damage from overheating gives you a very good reason to understand the radiator and the important role that this vital component plays in protecting your vehicle.
When your engine is running hotter than it is supposed to, you are experiencing coolant leaks, or the coolant in the radiator is discolored, then you know that it is time to get service done on the coolant and / or the radiator.
When you come into Legendary Automotive and Truck Service for service, you can rest assured that your radiator and its needed services will be performed exactly as needed to ensure that you have the needed confidence in the repairs that we do. We stand by all of our work with a 36-month/36,000 mile warranty on all parts and labor involved with the service performed.
We have the confidence to stand beside this warranty because we know that we are the best auto repair shop in Fort Myers - our reputation, and our list of happy customers, speaks for itself.
More about your Radiator
Or, more to the point, we will talk more about your vehicle’s coolant system as a whole. The reason for this is that, while the radiator itself is very important, there are a number of other components that make your coolant system work to protect your engine.
The question that a large number of people have is why the engine requires a coolant system in the first place.
Your engine runs at very high temperatures, and the purpose of the coolant system, specifically the radiator, is to disperse this heat to prevent damage to your engine. You coolant system is made up of a large number of moving parts:
Each one of these systems works together, and with a specific purpose, to make sure that your engine stays at a temperature that is cool enough to keep you running safely.
If you have ever smelled a sickly sweet odor coming from your engine, then this is likely the coolant that is in your system. The coolant is typically 50% antifreeze and 50% water that is poured into a coolant reservoir.
The coolant is the liquid that moves through the system. The purpose of this fluid is to collect engine heat as it passes through the engine so that it can flow back to the radiator to release the heat. The coolant then repeats this process as many times as is necessary to ensure that your engine components are protected.
How the coolant moves around, absorbs heat, and releases heat is based on the action of the additional subsystems in the engine cooling system.
If you have ever turned on your car and noticed that the sound of the fan is absent, there is a reason for this. The thermostat that is a part of the coolant system measures the temperature of the engine and effectively acts as the brain of the entire system.
When the thermostat determines that the fan needs to turn on, that is when the fan will do so.
This, conveniently, leads us into our next component…
The Cooling Fan
The purpose of the cooling fan is, as the name may imply, to reduce the temperature of the coolant after it has passed through the engine and absorbed the heat in the engine. The fan will run as long as the thermostat indicates that there is a high temperature in the engine.
When the coolant moves into the radiator, this is where the heat begins to be dispersed out of the engine. The cooling fan blows on the radiator and forces the heat in the coolant to exit the engine. This action is what removes all of the excess heat from your engine and protects the engine from any damage in this regard.
Many people have the misconception that the cooling fan is what moves the coolant through the engine. If you read above, you can see that the only purpose of the cooling fan is to reduce the temperature of the coolant once it arrives in the radiator.
The actual movement of the coolant is driven by the water pump that is a part of the coolant system. While your engine is running the water pump is constantly circulating the coolant throughout the engine.
The hoses that are a part of your cooling system are pathways for the coolant to move throughout the engine and radiator. If there is a leak in one of these hoses, or in the radiator itself, this might not cause an immediate problem. However, if this is left unchecked, or it happens to be a bad leak, this can cause your coolant levels to drop, which will raise engine temperatures.
Raising engine temperatures can, as we showed you, spell disaster for the car.
Some of the signs you might need a radiator of coolant system inspection are obvious. As an example, if you notice fluids, smell coolant, or your engine temperature starts to rise quickly then you probably know your system needs some work.
Aside from what would be obvious, there are items that you can check yourself to see if it may be about time to bring the car to the shop.
All you have to do is open the hood and check a couple of things, and these couple of things can give you some peace of mind.
Check the Coolant Level
Coolant tanks are partially transparent, so you should be able to easily see the fluid level by looking at it. If you just ran the engine, the hot coolant is expanded and it should be at the Max line that is showing. If your engine is cold, the level should be at or over the Minimum line that is present.
It was easier several years ago to run this test, as all coolant came in the same neon-green color. Nowadays, this test can be a little trickier because you do have coolant colors that are pink, blue, orange, and other colors.
To check your coolant color, remove the cap and look at the color of the coolant. If it starts to look orange (unless your coolant is normally orange) this indicates that there is rust in your coolant system and a flush is required. If your coolant is orange, then check for a more brownish-rusty coloration to the coolant.
By checking the coolant level and checking the color of the coolant, oftentimes you can notice a problem before it becomes serious and you can prolong the life of your engine.