Winter cooling system maintenance: the essentials
Thousands of explosions occur under your car’s hood every second, so as you can probably imagine, the temperature of its engine is rarely on the cold side! To counter the extreme heat that is generated by normal driving operations (not to mention high-load conditions), a liquid so eloquently called coolant is used.
Don’t let your engine go cold
This substance is crucial for protecting vital engine parts from excessive wear and tear, and is just as important as your vehicle’s oil and transmission fluid. Proper cooling system maintenance is imperative, especially during the summer and winter months. It may seem counterintuitive, but coolant (anti-freeze) has a specific chemical makeup that keeps motor blocks from cracking when they are exposed to very cold temperatures.
On the contrary, this is exactly why you should never fill your radiator or reservoir just with water during this time of year. While you can get by temporarily in the summer with a bottle of H2O, which comes in handy when faced with unexpected coolant leaks, winter cooling system upkeep is a more delicate matter. To keep your motor running and prevent it from breaking down on you on a chilly, December evening, follow these tips!
Always, and we repeat, always check your car’s fluid levels before going anywhere. At the very least, inspect the coolant system once per month, and this includes checking to see if the reservoir and overflow tanks are set at the proper line. When adding coolant, make sure the mixture is 70% anti-freeze and 30% water, since it is not uncommon for winters to get quite cold in many parts of Oregon.
Dirt and sediment buildup will occur in your cooling system naturally over time, and the only way to clean these contaminants out is by performing routine drain and refills. In extreme, cold-weather climates, this service (along with a coolant flush) should be scheduled on an annual basis.
Flushing entails forcing water or a cleaning liquid through the coolant lines to wipe away any debris, and it can make a big difference in engine performance. Lastly, make it a habit to inspect the hoses and clamps for undue wear. Cracks and frayed surfaces should never be ignored.