Ever wondered why some engines last longer than others or how we can get the best mileage from a vehicle while maintaining sanity? To understand how to, we have to understand that the most important process that goes on in an engine is the cooling system.
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Engines by design, have a temperature band that is optimal for their operation. Most vehicles work better in this temperature band due to various variables like oil temperature, oil viscosity, water temperature etc.
To understand this better we can separate a vehicle cooling system into 4 major parts (there are more but this is sufficient for now) namely:
This performs a bit like a heart that makes sure water is circulated through the engine carrying the heat from the engine through the hoses to the radiator where it is cooled and sent back in a continuous process.
An often-overlooked component that is very critical to a vehicle's cooling system. This component sits between the engine and the radiator and is about 2 inches in length.
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The primary function of the thermostat is to block the flow of coolant to the radiator until the engine warms up and vice versa; when the engine reaches optimal operating temperature (usually 2oo degrees F), the thermostat opens. This process reduces wear on engine emissions and sludge deposits making engines last longer.
Don’t believe when a clueless mechanic tells you a thermostat is just for temperate countries (and have your Mercedes sounding like a hairdryer), thermostats are important for a vehicle's engine longevity. Only if you cannot find a replacement or have an emergency should you remove it.
The vehicle radiator passes your coolant/water through thin metal fins, which allows the heat to be cooled by airflow outside (most times aided by a fan) and the cooled down liquid is sent back to cool the engine in exchange.
What, in our innocence, we call radiator cover has a critical role in maintaining the required pressure within the cooling system of the car for liquids to flow efficiently.
Being familiar with the way your cooling system works will enable you significantly reduce the risk of your engine overheating, as well as ensuring that your vehicle runs at (or as close to) the manufacturers intended specification.
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