6 parts that keep your engine cooled
Although engines are different from each other, most engines share a similar concept when it comes to engine cooling. Your cooling system is designed for one thing – regulating engine temperatures while under operation. Here are 6 major parts that make up your engine’s cooling system.
Let’s start with the fluid that makes it all happen. Coolant, or antifreeze, absorbs the heat produced by your engine and whisks it away to your radiator for cooling. This process is called liquid cooling, and keeps your engine operating at its prime operating temperature. Without coolant, your cooling system wouldn’t function and your engine would overheat quickly.
Coolant comes in many different mixtures and colors, but generally speaking, it is usually mixed with 50% Water and 50% Antifreeze. The different colors between coolants comes from the additives that are mixed in, in order to increase protection against corrosion. For example, Mishimoto Liquid Chill combines nontoxic propylene glycol base with unique poly organic additives to extend service life while protecting against boil-over temps up to 265°F.
2. Water pump
Also known as a coolant pump, the water pump can be considered the heart of your cooling system. The Water pump’s job is to regulate the flow of coolant and to consistently circulate coolant through the engine as well as the rest of the components in your cooling system. When a water pump fails, coolant will be unable to flow at the rate that is needed to keep the engine cooled, causing your engine to overheat.
When coolant enters your engine, it absorbs some of the heat that the engine is creating to help your engine stay cool before flowing back into the radiator, the central component of your engine’s cooling system.
The radiator is composed of two main parts, the core and the end tanks. The core of the radiator is a large metal block with integrated rows of metal fins. Coolant flows through the rows while air passes through the radiator fins when you are driving. Heat is then transferred from coolant to the fresh air passing through, reducing the fluid’s temperature before cycling back through the system.
The end tanks, which are usually made of plastic from the factory, are the side pieces that keep the coolant contained within the pressurized system. Because of the massive amount of heat that passes through the radiator, the plastic end tanks are prone to cracking and leaking which is why we prefer all-aluminum radiators, which are more durable and are a major upgrade from stock plastic models.
4. Radiator hoses
The main job of radiator hoses is to create a passageway for your coolant to flow from the engine to the radiator. Although this may seem simple, many of the hoses designed from the factory are made from cheap rubber material in order to keep production costs low. Over time, the hoses start to crack and leak due to repeated heat cycles. One solution to this is to swap out your rubber hoses for silicone hoses, which are much more durable and heat resistant.
On a hot summer day, your home may get very hot until it reaches a certain temperature where your thermostat may tell the AC to kick on. This is relatively the same concept in an engine thermostat. An automotive thermostat monitors the engine’s temperature and will regulate the flow of coolant coming from the radiator in order to keep the engine at peak operating temperatures. For example, when the engine is cold, the thermostat will remain closed and not allow for any coolant to enter the engine so that it can warm up. On the other hand, when it reaches full operating temperature, the thermostat may open up to allow that flow of coolant to come in and do its job of keeping the engine cooled.
Thermostats are a common weak point on the cooling system for older cars. As they age, thermostats sometimes get stuck open or closed. In the case of a stuck open thermostat, there would be a continuous flow of coolant cooling the engine regardless of engine temp, which would overcool your engine and decrease the efficiency of the engine. When a thermostat is stuck closed, coolant will not be able to flow through to the engine, causing your engine to overheat. Luckily, thermostats are a fairly inexpensive component to replace.
6. Radiator fans
Sometimes, natural airflow just isn’t enough for your radiator. This is especially prominent when the car is stationary or driving at slow speeds, where there is little to no air passing through. Radiator fans are designed to pull cool air through the car’s radiator when coolant reaches a certain temperature, regardless of whether or not the car is moving. When a radiator fan fails, coolant temperatures quickly rise if it is not receiving enough airflow to keep the cold.
Story by Eric Zuo