When a car is running, the fuel in the engine is constantly burning producing extremely high temperatures. To keep the heat in check and avoid damage to the engine, the cooling system dissipates the resulting heat that soaks into the engine. Another function of the cooling system is to control the temperature in the passenger compartment of your car.
Radiator Hoses: The hoses transport gallons of hot, pressurized coolant from the radiator to the water pump and from the engine to the radiator. They also serve as shock absorbers between the components of the cooling system and the engine. The hose should be flexible and should not feel spongy. Check for tiny cracks in the hose. Once the coolant has leaked away, the cooling system can no longer cool the engine down and overheating will occur.
Drive Belts (V-Belts on Older Units, Serpentine Belts or Timing Belts on Newer Units): The drive belts purpose is to operate multiple peripheral devices in a car’s engine. Those include the alternator, power steering pump, water pump, air conditioning compressor, air pump, etc.
Factors that affect drive belts are excessive heat, road dirt, oil, grease, water, coolant and other contaminants. Common symptoms of a failing water pump belt include: having cracks or frays on the surface of the belt, squealing noises coming from the front of your car, and burning rubber odor coming from your car’s engine.
Radiator: The radiator consists of a set of tubes called the “core” that the coolant flows through. The fins surround the core as air passes through the fins. As the air passes through the fins, the coolant then releases the heat to the fins.
Water Pump: The water pump is the heart of the cooling system. Controlled by the drive belt, it is responsible for pushing the coolant around the engine to keep its overall temperature as low as possible when operating.
The purpose of a car water pump is to push coolant through the car's engine block, radiator and hoses to get the engine heat away from the system. Most frequently, the water pump drives off the crankshaft pulley or the crankshaft itself. The coolant that gathers between the impeller blades travels outward using centrifugal force, and suction draws the coolant into the water pump from the radiator.
Thermostat: The thermostat controls the amount of coolant released into your car’s engine. When your car starts up, the thermostat is closed allowing it to warm up. After a predetermined temperature is reached, it slowly opens allowing coolant to keep flowing through the engine. Your thermostat can fail in either an open or closed condition. When it fails in the open position, there is a constant flow of the coolant into the radiator causing your car’s engine to run cold which leads to bad gas mileage. If the thermostat becomes clogged or fails in the closed position, the coolant will stop from flowing and your car’s engine will overheat.
Coolant: Coolant, also known as antifreeze, is always a 50-50 mixture of ethylene glycol or propylene glycol and water held in a container called coolant reservoir. Coolant does not only keep the liquid in your car’s radiator from freezing during winter or overheating during summer, it also acts as lubricant for the water pump, increases the boiling point of water, and prevents rust and scale from forming in your cooling system. Coolant can pick up contaminants, and can also become acidic so you should have your mechanic check out the PH level. Coolant must be changed out on a regular basis.