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Cooling system repairs have nothing to do with air conditioning. Your cooling system helps keep your engine at proper temperature levels. The basic process by which this works is by circulating coolant through the engine. The coolant absorbs heat from the engine and transfers it to the radiator where air cools it. It operates with sensors to make sure the engine is kept at the optimum temperature.

 

Cooling systems consist of three main parts:


Cooling System Part #1: Pumping

The first part is a pump to keep coolant mixed and flowing with the right consistency. Your gear or timing belt system will give power to the water pump. Some cars will also add an electrical pump to maximize cooling.

 

Scheduled maintenance on this part of your car or truck involves coolant replacement when needed and replacement of drive-belt. As a rule of thumb, always be sure to replace all pumps powered by the timing belt when you replace the tensioner/timing belt.

 

Cooling System Part #2: Piping
 

This includes all hoses, control valves, heater cores, the expansion tank, and radiator. The wear and tear you see on these parts happens from time rather than use since they are constantly interacting with coolant.


To properly maintain cooling system piping, make sure to replace all hoses, fix parts that are leaking or plugged up, and regularly replace the coolant itself.

 

Check all of these components twice a year and look for tearing, cracks, stiffness, and possible leaks. You want to change hoses every couple of years.


It's highly recommended to let professionals inspect complex parts such as the radiator, heater core, and expansion tank.

 

Cooling System Part #3: Temperature Control
 

The first part is your thermostat. It functions based on the temperature of the coolant flowing through it. A spring-loaded valve opens and closes according to that. One major car/truck repair issue comes in when your thermostat is sticking. If it is sticking, you will notice a high temperature reading followed by normal temperature readings or a constantly low temperature. The other component similiar to this is the radiator, which has a spring-loaded system. It reacts based on system pressure. Its main function is to make sure there are correct levels of coolant in your system.

 

The next component is a fan blade. It is driven by your belt system and functions by pulling air through the radiator. The main problem that can go wrong with this is a bad fan clutch. The fan clutch ensures that your fan is moving with the belt at low engine speeds and free wheel at high speeds. If the clutch is not allowing your fan to blow at the right speed, overheating can happen while idling or going to the freeway.

 

If your fan is not belt-driven, it is electrical. That means it functions based on sensors telling it weather to turn on or off. It is possible that your fan has various speed settings, depending on radiator temperature.

 

Other sensors can be involved in your cooling system. There is a gauge sender, warning light sender, lambda and/or fuel injection sensor, and thermo-time switch.

 

Maintenance of your cooling system sensors is virtually impossible since there's nothing really to "maintain". Keeping them clean both internally (coolant replacement) and externally (engine cleaning) is the best way to ensure trouble-free driving. Checking and replacing all parts at the factory-recommended time or mileage limits helps as well.