Cooling System Service

Automotive Cooling System Service
“Avoiding Costly Overheating”

From our experience, the number one cause of major engine failure is cooling system problems due to neglect of the cooling system. We see some very expensive engine repairs due to this neglect – several  $1,000’s is very common.  Obviously, this is a very important topic for our customers.  Remember, our goal is to help you prevent major breakdowns and to save you money.   We do this by encouraging affordable maintenance when your car needs it.

First, lets understand how the cooling system works

Automotive Radiator Repairs and Service

The cooling system consists of a radiator, a water pump, a thermostat and hoses.  A mixture of water and coolant/anti-freeze flows through the engine, water pump, thermostat and radiator.  The goal is to dissipate and remove the heat off the engine.  The fluids constantly flow through the system through the radiator.  The radiator uses air from the car’s motion and radiator fan to aid in the cooling of the fluids.

This system sends lower temperature fluid back into the engine constantly.   This keeps your engine from overheating.  Overheating causes major engine damage and is very expensive.

Understanding water and coolant

Water is a great coolant for the engine.  It even does a better job than the coolant/anti-freeze itself.  In fact if you wanted to cool an engine, water alone is the best method.  However, there is one problem with only water: it corrodes the internal parts of the engine.  Corrosion damages many important components in the cooling system that can restrict cooling.  So, we add coolant to the water to help protect the cooling system from corrosion.  The coolant is also an anti-freeze formula that helps to prevent the water from freezing in your engine.

cooling-system-corrosion

cooling-system-scale

Severe corrosion can occur when additives that protect the cooling system have been depleted. Rust, scale and sludge can plug
cooling system fins, preventing proper circulation of coolant.

To strike the right balance of water and coolant we mix 50% water and coolant.  The coolant is a blend of chemicals that inhibits rust, while the water is for cooling.  In the old days, we only had one type of coolant.  Each technician or auto repair shop had their favorite brand, but there was really only one type.  Today, we stock six different types of coolants.  This is because some car manufacturers require a specific type.  Therefore, you would need mix the right coolant and water, not just any coolant.

Cooling systems are becoming more complex with later model cars.  We are becoming chemists to a degree.  We have to ensure that right pH, percentage of coolant additives to water ratios, and measure the presence of stray voltage (electrolysis) in the fluids.  Certainly, times were more simple and easier to troubleshoot and maintain.  Today, though, we must be aware of a wide variety of technologies related to cooling.

Suggested cooling system service intervals

We recommend and perform a visual inspection of the cooling system at each oil change service.  This visual inspection consists of looking at the fluid levels and looking at the consistency of the fluid, then topping the fluid levels if needed.  That is all that is needed between cooling system services.

Thorough Cooling System Inspections Intervals

Periodically, it is important to do more than just a fluid top off.  A more thorough inspection is needed.  We do this periodically depending on how long and how many miles you driven since your last cooling system service.  We also factor in what your car manufacturer recommends, and the current condition of the cooling system.  Additionally, we encourage more frequent thorough inspections after your car has reached 50,000 miles.

Cooling System Service Intervals

Because of variables in driving conditions, the type of coolant, and your car manufacturer’s recommendations, the cooling system will need to be serviced anywhere from every two years to 100,000 miles.  At our shop, we take the care to monitor this for you as you have other services performed (oil changes, etc.).  We will notify you when you are due for this service.  That is why it is important to have your periodic maintenance done with our shop – so we can monitor all of your maintenance issues.

What is involved in a cooling system service?

Cooling System Flush ServiceWhile some shops and quick oil change companies only drain and fill the cooling system fluids, we do the job right.  The reason is that up to 60% of the contaminated fluid remains with just drain and fill.

The cooling system service at Bill’s Quality Auto Care involves a few steps.  We start by adding a chemical that breaks up the contaminants in the system and running the car until it heats up.  We run the car until it heats up and the thermostat opens up so fluid is running through the entire system.  The job of that special additive is rid the fluid of the contaminants and aid in the next step, the flush.

We add a specified amount of fresh coolant into a specialized piece of coolant transfusion equipment and hook it up to the car.  The amount we add is determined by the condition of the current fluid and the manufacturer’s recommendations.  The transfusion machine forces the old fluid out completely and adds new fresh, protective fluids.

After the flush equipment is disconnected, we add a conditioner.  The job of the conditioner is to fortify the coolant and reduce the electrolysis.   Electrolysis is an enemy of coolant, it is basically stray voltage in the system.  It damages the internal parts of the cooling system if it remains unattended.

Bill’s Quality Auto Care’s Role in Maintenance

We are fanatics about preventative maintenance.  You might think that an auto repair shop would rather have those big ticket repairs rather than much smaller maintenance orders.  Many shops do prefer repairs over maintenance.  We don’t.

It makes a lot more sense for us to encourage proper maintenance because it saves you money.  That endears our customers to our shop.  Preventative maintenance also can be scheduled, and that’s good for you and our shop.  Preventative maintenance done regularly also has other benefits:

  • It increases the resale value of your car.
  • It improves your chances of selling your car later – people love cars that have been well maintained and we’ll provide you with all the receipts to help.
  • It extends the life of your car.  This can save you tremendously because you can choose freely when you want a new car, rather than being forced because of an expensive repair.
  • It helps keep your car safer.  Many maintenance items revolve around keeping your car safe, brakes are not the only thing.  Steering, ABS, Axles, Alignments and more are also helpful in keeping your car safe.  Not to mention, any breakdown can be unsafe when stranded on the side of a road.
  • It helps keep your car running smoother and like new.  A properly maintained car feels better.
  • It gives you peace of mind – the most valuable benefit to you of all.  You don’t have to think twice commuting to work, or taking a long trip, or a spontaneous, long Sunday drive.  You feel confident in knowing your car is properly maintained and that gives you peace of mind.

In the end, preventative maintenance is beneficial to both of us.  Besides, we will always get those big ticket repairs because some people simply delay on maintenance until it’s too late.  Hopefully, though, not you.

If you would like to understand the role of preventative maintenance further, ask Bill or one of the service advisors.  All of us are very experienced and well trained.  And, we won’t make you feel foolish for not understanding cars either.  We want you to understand because when you do, you will take better care of them.

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