Radiator & Auto Cooling Systems the Basics

It can be said that to auto owners their radiator and cooling systems are at least familiar to them. Since an automobiles’ radiator and cooling hoses are readily visible under the hood, and it is estimated that up to 4 out of 5 vehicle owners routinely top up their own glycol anti-freeze liquids this is no major revelation of motoring maintenance to most.

Overall and to summarize the cooling system of your vehicle – be it car, truck, or SUV does exactly what its name suggests – it removes, reduces and fundamentally its function is to remove heat from your engine system expelling this waste heat into the nearby air. Without this essential cooling system of your “power-plant”, the heat built up from the exploding gasoline vapors (in a gas engine), would soon overheat and ultimately ruin your engine. Interestingly on the other hand, automotive cooling systems are not nearly as essential to the running and ongoing maintenance of diesel engines. Diesel engines last a lot longer than gas ones overall. Diesel fuels are essentially waste oils; they do not burn as hot. Additionally the fuel oil provides great lubrication for the pistons as they slide in their shafts, whereas in gas engines the gas vapor provides no lubrication and on top of that serves to wash oil off the engines’ cylinder walls.

Your cooling system is built so that a mixture of ethylene glycol antifreeze liquid and water flows into the passages cast into your engine block, where it absorbs heat. A water pump – generally a belt driven device, running directly off your engine itself, circulates this hot coolant liquid mixture, through the engine and then out via a standard auto coolant hose into the radiator of your vehicle.

To increase air flow through the radiator – in an effect to get more cooling power out of your rad system a fan draws air through the fins or tubes on the radiator itself. These fan systems used to be driven almost exclusively directly off another belt on your engine, now many are electrically driven, thermostatically controlled units.

How does the cooling system work overall? Waste heat from your engine is conducted via your engine “block” to the coolant fluid. Then the fluid is circulated by the water pump unit, through the channels of your engines’ heavy metal block, through the rubber coolant hoses, which you should be easily spotted when peering into your engine compartment. These coolant hoses pass from their fitting on the engine ultimately to the radiator. Thus the hot antifreeze coolant carries the engines’ waste heat from the engine directly into the radiator where the air flowing (or drawn by the working rad fan) expelling, diluting and exhausting waste excess heat from your vehicles’ motor into the nearby air.

An autos’ cooling systems runs so well, and are generally so dependable in their functions and functioning that few give the coolant and heat system its due – until problems occur. Generally it is either a case of overheating due to excessive vehicle draw, or slow driving in very hot temperatures and climates with low coolant fluid levels. However interestingly another case in point where a malfunctioning cooling system draws attention is in cold climates where a vehicles interior heating may not be not be enough coolant fluid or circulating antifreeze to allow for the vehicles’ interior car heater to warm up its occupants, or defrost the autos’ windshield sufficiently for automotive safety & driving concerns.