The Engine Cooling System: How Does it Work?


What You Need to Know About the Engine Cooling System

The purpose of the engine cooling system is to regulate the temperature of the engine rather than just cool it down. It does this by circulating the coolant through the engine by means of an integral, belt-driven centrifugal pump; on the way, it passes through the radiator. Attached to the radiator is a high-capacity, electrically operated fan that forces atmospheric air through the fins of the radiator core, thus dissipating the heat contained in the coolant.

The flow of the coolant is controlled by a thermostat, a bimetal valve that opens and closes periodically. This allows coolant to circulate when open and prevents circulation when closed. This action is automatic and is determined by the temperature of the coolant. The operation of this valve, and therefore the entire system, is indicated by a temperature gauge on the dashboard.

  • Belt driven water pump.
  • Radiator or heat exchanger.
  • Thermostat.
  • High capacity fan or fans.
  • Heat sensing switches.
  • Expansion tank.
  • Large diameter hoses.
  • Coolant level indicator in the expansion tank.

The efficient operation of the cooling system is dependent on the excellent heat absorption quality of water. However, the addition of antifreeze enhances the absorption of heat while at the same time increasing water’s boiling point. The active ingredient in antifreeze also lowers the freezing point of water, thus preventing the water in the system from freezing and causing engine blocks to crack or fracture in very cold weather. An added benefit of antifreeze is its ability to prevent corrosion on all metals used in modern engine construction, thereby precluding the formation of rust scale that can prevent the transfer of heat from the engine to the coolant.

For the cooling system to function properly, another essential requirement is the ability to contain the significant pressure that develops as the coolant heats up and expands. To facilitate this, all modern cooling systems make use of an expansion tank that allows the expansion of the coolant while maintaining the pressure with a regulated safety valve in the cap. The pressure build-up in the system prevents the coolant from boiling, thereby maintaining full contact between the internal engine surfaces and the coolant, ensuring the efficient and effective transfer of heat. Integrated into the expansion tank is a sensor to monitor the level of the coolant, activating a warning light on the dashboard should the coolant level fall below a pre-determined level.

Many cooling systems are self-purging, meaning that at the first filling, these systems will automatically expel all air pockets in the system, thus ensuring efficient operation. However, a large percentage of cooling systems are NOT self-purging and require careful bleeding of the system to expel all trapped air. When hot and under pressure, trapped air can completely shut off the circulation of coolant since the air bubble expands and acts as a very efficient valve.

What Happens If Your Car’s Cooling System Malfunctions?

If your car struggles with regulating the engine temperature, then it could be a sign of a more serious problem. There are specific signs you should be aware of that indicate that your car’s cooling system may be malfunctioning. You need to be careful and act fast if you notice any of these signs as it could cause the car to break down during use.

What Could a Cooling System Malfunction Indicate?

If you notice that there are frequent problems with the cooling system, despite several repairs, then this could be a sign that your car may have a manufacturing defect that would make your car a lemon. If that’s the case, then know that you’re not stuck with a defective product. You have options.

If you think you may have a lemon, lemon truck, lemon RV, or lemon motorcycle, you deserve to be compensated. Lemberg Law can help you get justice – at no cost to you! Complete our form for a no-obligation case evaluation, or call toll free 877-795-3666.

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