About once a month I’ll be writing about things that I see in and around the shop and at the pumps that may help you keep your car happy, healthy, fuel efficient, and long lasting.
Today I would like to talk about your cars cooling system. Today’s systems have come a long way since the days of heavy copper radiators and heater cores. For those that don’t know, heater cores are the small radiator like units mounted inside the car where antifreeze is circulated through. When you put the heat on, air is circulated past the heater core and out the ducts, giving you heat.
Today’s cars have a combination of lightweight aluminum and plastic radiator and heater cores that are a lot smaller but more efficient. This also means that the tubes through which the antifreeze flows are a lot narrower.
This is fine until the antifreeze starts to get contaminated by sediment and rust. The water pump will circulate the sediment and it may lodge in the heater core restricting it so much that it may not flow enough fluid or none all. This means you may not get much or no heat.
Another thing to consider is the health of your antifreeze. The chemicals in antifreeze deteriorate over time. Although the antifreeze may be strong enough so that I won’t freeze in the winter, it may lose its power to prevent rust and scale from forming in your system. It may also create electrolysis which can eventually eat away at the thin metals and cause a leak.
The best way to prevent this is to maintain your antifreeze by changing it according to your manufacturer’s recommendations or every two to three years. This is an inexpensive maintenance service that is a lot cheaper than changing the heater core. Some heater core replacement jobs can be very expensive especially when the dashboard has to be removed to access it.
So the next time you change your oil, consider changing the antifreeze. It’s all a part of preventative maintenance.