Helpful & handy tips on what to do if your car overheats

radiators
  • If you do get caught in heavy traffic and you notice the temperature gauge rising. Turn off the vehicle.
  • Once you safely have pulled off of the road, turn off the engine to let the engine cool down, and then as soon as possible have your vehicle inspected by a professional at Red Devil.
  • Red Devil specialists have expertise in targeting cooling system problems, which could range from a faulty electric fan to a blown radiator, faulty thermostat, broken belts, leaking water pump, hose problem, coolant loss, overheating, loss of pressure.
  • Cars that are older than 5 years are perfect candidates for cooling system problems. These problems can strike when least expected.
  • The number of kilometres on a vehicle is not as big a factor in the maintenance of a cooling system as is the vehicle’s age. An aging vehicle has been exposed (over time) to much that can harm a car’s cooling system.
  • Salt from sea air, debris and other chemicals tend to break down the metal in a radiator core.
  • The radiator is an integral part of the cooling system, and is designed to protect an engine from the destructive forces of too much heat. If your car has overheated, let it cool down.
  • Have a look around in the engine bay. DO NOT touch anything. Look for leaking coolant and steam and also under the car for leaking coolant.
  • Please DO NOT touch the cap or the hoses. There could be extreme high temperatures leading to high pressure coolant, which, if released, can cause shockingly painful burns. Allow at least 20 minutes to cool.
  • If the car has lost coolant and you have identified that it is leaking, please DO NOTattempt to fill it and drive the vehicle as it can potentially cause major damage to the engine. This potential damage can then as a result cost thousands of dollars to repair.
  • Heat is produced every time a vehicle is driven. This is why it is so important to have your car’s cooling system, especially the radiator, checked at least once a year at Red Devil or certainly no longer than once every 18 months to 2 years.

A car’s radiator that is working well to keep your engine cool is vital for the every day to day running of your vehicle. It keeps the engine cool and also works with the heater on cold winter days.

If your car’s radiator is not doing the job it should be doing your car will run hot and eventually your car engine will overheat and cause serious (and expensive to repair) damage to the motor.

At Red Devil we always work on a cool car radiator; and we never work on a hot radiator, and we recommend you adopt the same not negotiable practice. It can potentially lead to severe burns or even death.

When your car runs hot and you see steam coming out of the radiator your car radiator is either damaged, there is an engine problem, or you have a serious car radiator problem.

A car radiator can be extremely dangerous and can also cause harm to your pets and the environment.

If you suspect your radiator has a problem take it to Red Devil – Your car radiator repairer.

Remember safety first when working with a car radiator.

Did you know that your engine has a number of principle components in its cooling system?

There are usually five components.

A motor vehicle’s radiator has a set of tubes that are usually referred to as the “core” that the coolant flows through. Cooling fins surround the core. As air passes through the fins, the coolant releases its heat to the fins, which then in turn dissipate the heat. The radiator cap must cover the filling hole. The cap is also designed to seal the system to a specific pressure.

The coolant goes from the radiator to the engine through a series of strong and flexible hoses that are sturdy enough to handle engine vibration and high heat. The engine’s thermostat keeps the engine at the suitable operating temperature, and the water pump is the heart of the engine’s cooling system. It pumps coolant through the whole cooling system and into the engine block.

A car radiator is an essential component of every car. It ultimately protects your car’s engine from overheating damage. As your engine creates energy to power the vehicle’s wheels it also creates excessive heat that must be regulated. This is even more prominent in today’s modern motor vehicles that demand more power for better acceleration and overall speed. Your vehicle’s radiator controls the heat generated by the engine to ensure that it does not harm the engine components. This fact alone makes the proper and efficient operation of your radiator of great importance.

If the motor vehicle is more than five years old, you may notice your engine running a little hotter that it used to, you may have radiator problems and should consider a radiator service and or replacement. You may potentially start experiencing radiator problems by the time your car enters its sixth year of life. The reality is that over time, environmental factors such as humidity, debris, water quality and chemical reactions will take a toll on the metal that your radiator is constructed which may in turn ultimately result in radiator problems. Eventually, rust and corrosion will more than likely set in and a radiator leak can occur or mineral deposits will build up inside the narrow tubing in the core, which then restricts the flow of coolant and your engine does not effectively cool and runs hotter. The epoxy that is used to join many radiator seams also typically wears out after five or six years and the likelihood of a radiator leak is greatly enhanced. These are many typical radiator problems that will ultimately contribute to a radiator replacement. You can prevent/delay radiator problems by doing a Radiator Flush of the cooling system at regular intervals.

Your motor vehicle overheating is not necessarily a radiator problem nor does it mean you need a replacement radiator. A faulty thermostat may be causing some of the trouble, or a worn water pump. These parts may generally need to be replaced sometime around 100,000 kilometres. Another common radiator problem are caused by worn hoses. These tend to become brittle with age, and eventually crack and leak. Unlike older cooling systems, most modern motor vehicles utilize a pressurised cooling system. While this makes for more efficient and better cooling of the engine, it also increases stress on the entire cooling system which in turn increases the likelihood of radiator problems.

Some common radiator problems that result in radiator replacement occur with age – such as tube to header leaks, blown seams and leaky fittings. The motor vehicle’s radiator is made of several welded, soldered or even in some cases, glued parts, these joints are more likely to experience radiator problems over time. Another contributing factor to radiator problem is the eventual deterioration of the solder that holds the hundreds of cooling fins to the core tubes. This causes them to become loose and can create radiator problems. In fact, because these cooling fins are so thin and delicate, the environment can affect the fins more than any other radiator component and create the need for a radiator replacement. There are other radiator problems that can occur because of low-quality ignition wires. These can give off electromagnetic energy, or stray current that can lead to an electrochemical reaction in the radiator tubes, creating a void and preventing coolant circulation.

Typically, radiator problems can be slowed, but not completely stopped

Radiators are installed in motor vehicles to remove heat. When driving a motor vehicle, the engine produces intense heat which must be dissipated or the engine will overheat. The use of higher output engines with tightly compacted packaging, the addition of new emission components, and more modern aerodynamic front end styling with narrower openings are creating a hostile thermal environment in the engine compartment. This results in a smaller volume of cooling air. These conditions demand a better understanding of the complex cooling air flow characteristics and resulting thermal performance of the radiator and other heat generating components in the engine compartment.

Radiators are not restricted to cars and trucks. They are also used for large machines such as off-highway construction equipment, heavy duty pumping sets for large scale irrigation, trains, compressor coolers, etc. This experiment is designed to simulate heat transfer through a car radiator using forced convection. The air flow caused by the blower simulates air outside the car as it drives as well as the fan inside the car.

Radiators are used for cooling internal combustion engines, mainly in cars but also in trucks, motorbikes, stationary generating plant or any similar use of such an engine.

Internal combustion engines are often cooled by passing a liquid called engine coolant through the engine block, where it is heated, then through the radiator itself where it loses heat to the atmosphere, and then back to the engine in a closed loop. Engine coolant is usually water-based, but can also be oil. It is common to employ a water pump to force the engine coolant to circulate, and also for an axial fan to force air through the radiator.

A radiator is connected to channels running through the engine and cylinder head, through which a liquid (called the coolant) is pumped. This liquid may be water (in climates where water is unlikely to freeze), but is more commonly a mixture of water and antifreeze in proportions appropriate to the climate. Antifreeze itself is usually ethylene glycol or propylene glycol (with a small amount of corrosion inhibitor).

The radiator transfers the heat from the fluid inside to the air outside, thereby cooling the fluid, which in turn cools the engine. Radiators are also often used to cool automatic transmission fluids, air conditioner refrigerant, intake air, and sometimes to cool motor oil or power steering fluid.

Radiators are typically mounted in a position where they receive airflow from the forward movement of the vehicle, such as behind a front grill of the vehicle. Where engines are rear-mounted, it is common to mount the radiator behind a front grill to achieve sufficient airflow, even though this requires long coolant pipes. Alternatively, the radiator may draw air from the flow over the top of the vehicle or from a side-mounted grill. For long vehicles, such as buses, side airflow is most common for engine and transmission cooling and top airflow most common for air conditioner cooling.

Motor vehicle radiators are constructed of a pair of header tanks, linked by a core with many narrow passageways, and as a result a high surface area relative to its volume. This core is usually made of stacked layers of metal sheet, pressed to form channels and soldered or brazed together. For many years radiators were made from brass or copper cores soldered to brass headers. Modern radiators save money and weight by using in many instances, plastic headers and may also use aluminium cores.

The engine temperature is primarily controlled in many instances by a wax-pellet type of thermostat, a valve which opens once the engine has reached its optimum operating temperature.

When the engine is cold, the thermostat is closed except for a small bypass flow so that the thermostat experiences changes to the coolant temperature as the engine warms up. Engine coolant is directed by the thermostat to the inlet of the circulating pump and is returned directly to the engine, bypassing the radiator. Directing water to circulate only through the engine allows the temperature to reach optimum operating temperature as quickly as possible whilst avoiding localised “hot spots.” Once the coolant reaches the thermostat’s activation temperature, it opens, allowing water to flow through the radiator to prevent the temperature rising higher.

Once at an optimum temperature, the thermostat controls the flow of engine coolant to the radiator so that the engine continues to operate at optimum temperature. Under peak load conditions, such as driving slowly up a steep hill with a heavy load on a hot day, the thermostat will be approaching fully open because the engine will be producing near to maximum power while the velocity of air flow across the radiator is low. (The velocity of air flow across the radiator has a major effect on its ability to dissipate heat.)

Conversely, when cruising fast downhill on a motorway on a cold night on a light throttle, the thermostat will be nearly closed because the engine is producing little power, and the radiator is able to dissipate much more heat than the engine is producing. Allowing too much flow of coolant to the radiator would result in the engine being over cooled and operating at lower than optimum temperature. A side effect of this would be that the passenger compartment heater would not be able to put out enough heat to keep the passengers warm. The fuel efficiency would also suffer.

The thermostat is therefore constantly moving throughout its range, responding to changes in vehicle operating load, speed and external temperature, to keep the engine at its optimum operating temperature.

There are other factors that can influence the temperature of the engine, including the motor vehicle’s radiator size and the type of radiator fan. The size of the radiator (and therefore its cooling capacity) can keep the engine at the required temperature under the most extreme conditions a vehicle is likely to encounter (such as climbing a steep hill with a heavy load on a hot day).

Airflow speed through a radiator can also be amajor influence on the heat lost. Vehicle speed affects this, in rough proportion to the engine effort. Where an additional cooling fan is driven by the engine, this also tracks engine speed similarly.

Engine-driven fans are often regulated by a viscous-drive clutch from the drive belt, which slips and reduces the fan speed at low temperatures. This improves fuel efficiency by not wasting power on driving the fan unnecessarily.

On many modern vehicles, further regulation of the cooling rate is provided by either variable speed or cycling radiator fans. Electric fans are controlled by a thermostatic switch or the engine control unit. Electric fans also have the advantage of giving good airflow and cooling at low engine revs or when stationary, such as in slow-moving traffic.

Before the development of viscous-drive and electric fans, engines were fitted with simple fixed fans that drew air through the radiator at all times.

Did you know?

To understand the car radiator we must first understand what a car radiator is and how the car radiator works in the motor vehicle.

The invention of the automobile water radiator is attributed to Karl Benz of Mercedes Benz fame.

Another German, Mr. Wilhelm Maybach designed the first honeycomb car radiator.

A car radiator is a type of heat exchanger, designed to transfer heat from the hot coolant that flows through the car radiator to the air blown through the radiator by the fan. Car radiators are made by brazing thin aluminium fins to flattened aluminium tubes. Most motor vehicles today use the aluminium radiator. Internal combustion engines are cooled by passing engine coolant through the engine block, where it’s heated, then through the radiator where it loses heat to the atmosphere, then back to the engine in a closed loop.

The engine coolant is usually water-based, but in certain types of vehicles oil is also used. It is common to employ a water pump to force the engine coolant to circulate, and also for an axial fan to force air through the car radiator.

In motor vehicles with a liquid-cooled internal combustion engine, a car radiator is connected to channels running through the engine and cylinder head, through which a coolant is pumped. In climates like Australia where it’s unlikely to freeze, (most of Australia) the coolant can be water, but it’s still more common to use a mixture of water and antifreeze in proportions appropriate to the climate.

Antifreeze itself is usually ethylene glycol or propylene glycol with a small amount of corrosion inhibitor. The car radiator transfers the heat from the fluid inside to the air outside, thereby cooling the engine. Radiators are also often used to cool automatic transmission fluids, air conditioner refrigerant, intake air, and sometimes to cool motor oil or power steering fluid. Car radiators are mounted where they receive airflow from the forward movement of the vehicle, namely behind a front grill. In motor vehicles where engines are rear-mounted, it’s common to mount the radiator behind a front grill to achieve sufficient airflow, requiring longer coolant pipes. Alternatively, the car radiator may draw air from the flow over the top of the vehicle or from a side-mounted grill. For long vehicles, such as buses, side airflow is most common for car engine and transmission cooling and top airflow most common for air conditioner cooling.

Turbo charged or supercharged engines may have an intercooler, which is an air-to-air or air-to-water radiator used to cool the incoming air charge—not to cool the engine.

How often should I flush my cooling system?

Generally every owner’s manual has specifications of when it should be changed. Also some car manufacturers use extended life anti-freeze. We suggest flushing your cooling system between 50,000 kilometres or whenever you replace a cooling system component. This will help prevent future problems.

What is the purpose of a radiator cap?

A radiator cap is a pressure cap that controls the amount of coolant that is dispensed or removed into your overflow tank. A radiator cap that is not working properly can prevent your vehicle from cooling properly.

Why is the radiator important?

The engine of your car produces a tremendous amount of heat when in operation. Your vehicle is equipped with a cooling system to help prevent your car from becoming too hot. Liquid coolant is circulated through and around your engine to keep its vital components cool, and in the process, this coolant becomes extremely hot. The radiator is designed to transfer the heat from this liquid to its metal coils, and then the heat is dispelled through ventilation. If the radiator or any other cooling system component fails, then the car can quickly overheat and cause damage to your engine.

 

 

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