In the hot weather, seeing steam coming from the engine compartment is something we all dread. No one wants that to happen to them. But if you know the signs of overheating and how to deal with it, you may be able to reduce the risk of damage to your vehicle, maybe even prevent getting stranded on the road.
Besides the steam coming out of the engine compartment, here are a few signs of overheating. Your vehicle has a heat gauge that may have a needle that can go into a red zone or up to the "H" (for High) position. You may smell odors, perhaps a burning (could be hot oil) or a sweet smell (engine coolant leaking).
When you encounter any of those signs, you know you have to do something to keep the engine as cool as possible to avoid potentially catastrophic damage. Turn off the air conditioning and turn up the heat. While that last part may sound odd, it helps draw heat out of the engine.
If you can do it safely, pull off the road to a spot away from traffic. Turn off the engine so it can cool down for a few minutes. You may want to call for help at this point, then switch on the key to "accessory" position to see if the engine has cooled down to the normal range. You may have to have your car towed to a service facility or, if there's one nearby, you may be able to slowly drive to it. But keep your eye on the heat gauge and immediately stop if it starts to overheat again.
The best hedge against engine overheating is regular maintenance. When the cooling system and other engine components are working like they should, your chances of an overheated engine are drastically reduced. Your service facility will keep their eyes open for leaking hoses, cracked belts, rusted pipes and other things so they don't fail at the most inopportune time.
When the weather turns cold, it's nice to crank up the furnace and enjoy the heat. But if your home's furnace doesn't work, it's not too comfortable. Same goes with your vehicle. When the heater's not working, things can get miserable. It could also signal some major problems, which we'll discuss later.
A vehicle's heating system is fairly complicated. It's made up of several parts, including a blower motor/fan, a heater core and some mechanical and electrical components. In basic terms, a vehicle's engine warms up coolant which is then sent to the heater core (which is kind of like a small radiator) behind the dash. That blower motor sends cold air through the heater core which heats up the air. Voila! Heat.
Diagnosing problems in this system takes a trained mechanic because of the different possible issues. Your heater core may need replacing; they are sometimes in tight spots and may be difficult to work on. Another possible problem could be a defective thermostat, which regulates how the coolant flows through the engine. You may have a leak somewhere in your cooling system. Those leaks may be something as simple as a detached hose clamp or as serious as a bad head gasket. A knowledgeable technician at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley will be able to track the problems down.
For those reasons, it's wise to get your vehicle's heating system repaired. Not only can driving an unheated vehicle on a cold day freeze your fingers, some related engine problems that are not repaired could leave you stranded.
Smart drivers keep up the maintenance on their vehicle's cooling system; it's a hot tip to prevent a cold vehicle.
Engine Hydration for Lancaster Drivers: Role of Your Water Pump
Mar 20, 2016
The cooling system in an engine has five components: the radiator, the radiator cap, the hoses, the thermostat and the water pump. The water is literally the heart of the system. Just as your own heart keeps your blood circulating through your body, the water pump keeps coolant circulating through your engine.
The water pump is driven by a belt, chain or gear and only operates while the engine is running. It has a limited life span and sooner or later will have to be replaced. You can check your owner's manual to find out how long your water pump should last. Some can fail at only 40,000 miles (64,000 kilometers), but almost all of them fail by 100,000 miles (160,000 kilometers).
Water pumps don't gradually wear out; they fail. In other words, they're either working or they're not. A failed water pump has to be replaced.
Water pumps can fail in two ways: they can spring a leak or their bearings fail. Leaks can come from a cracked pump but usually develop at the gasket where the pump attaches to the engine.
If you hear a low-pitched grinding sound coming from the water pump, it's time for a new one. If you see coolant leaking in the area near the pump, it needs to be replaced. Also, coolant on the driveway could indicate water pump failure. Many water pumps aren't visible because they're under a plastic cover, so you may have to take your vehicle to The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley to know if the water pump has failed. If your water pump is run by the timing belt, then it should be replaced when you replace the belt. Most timing belts need to be replaced at around 60,000 to 90,000 miles (100,000 to 150,000 kilometers). The labor for replacing a timing belt is about 90% the same for replacing a water pump, so it's cost-effective to take care of them both at the same time. Also, if your water pump develops a leak (if it's powered by the timing belt), you have to replace the timing belt as well since contamination by coolant fluid damages the belt. It just makes sense for Lancaster residents to replace both of these parts whenever either one needs it.
Replacing a water pump at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley is a vehicle care issue that almost all of us Lancaster residents face eventually. They don't last forever. On the other hand, we can extend the life of most of the components of our vehicle through preventive maintenance. Just as exercise and diet keep our heart healthy, regular check-ups and fluid changes will keep our vehicles healthy. Talk to your friendly and knowledgeable The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor.
Smart Lancaster Drivers Protect Against Overheating
Nov 07, 2014
Engines get hot when they run. This heat can build up and damage vital engine parts, so engines need a cooling system to keep them running. Cooling system failure is the most common mechanical failure in vehicles. This is unfortunate, because these failures are usually easy for Lancaster drivers to prevent.
The radiator is the best-known and most recognizable part of the cooling system. Hoses filled with coolant (also known as antifreeze) connect the radiator to the engine. The coolant draws heat from the engine and then flows to the radiator. Air passing through cooling fans on the radiator cools the coolant. The coolant then cycles back into the engine to start the process over again.
The most critical component of the cooling system, however, is the coolant itself. A mixture of water and coolant/antifreeze helps keep it both from freezing and from boiling away. Either can result in serious engine damage.
Different engines require different types of coolant/antifreeze. The owner's manual will list what kind a vehicle requires. Using the wrong type or mixing different types of coolant/antifreeze may void the warranty on the cooling system and may damage it as well.
Insufficient coolant can lead to engine failure. Coolant levels need to be checked regularly and topped off as necessary. If coolant levels drop quickly or consistently, the cooling system should be inspected for leaks. Coolant/antifreeze contains additives that protect the radiator and other coolant components from rust, scale and corrosion. Over time, these additives are depleted, so it is necessary for Lancaster drivers to replace coolant at specified intervals. Changing coolant should be part of routine preventive maintenance for any vehicle.
This service is often ignored, though, since old coolant still cools the engine. Vehicle owners don't realize there is a problem until the system fails. They are left with major repairs and possibly a damaged engine, which could have been prevented with a cooling system service at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster.
If your vehicle sends a warning message to check its coolant or if the temperature gauge is reading in the red or hot zone, then the cooling system needs serviced. This service is critical and should not be put off since the potential for damage is high.
In an emergency situation, water or antifreeze can be added to your vehicle so that it can be driven to a service center for proper car care. For this reason, your owner's manual contains instructions for how to top off insufficient coolant – allow 45 minutes for the engine to cool before attempting to add coolant or water. However, the fluid should be added to the coolant overflow bottle, not to the radiator itself. Removing the radiator pressure cap can result in severe burns.
Topping off in an emergency, however, does not fix the problem. The vehicle should immediately be taken to The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster where they can inspect the cooling system, repair any leaks and clean it if necessary. They can identify what caused the emergency situation in first place and ensure it doesn't happen again.
Regular maintenance of a vehicle's cooling system is just good auto advice for Lancaster drivers. Cooling system service is relatively inexpensive and doesn't take long at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley. Lack of it, however, can put a vehicle in the scrap heap.
Talk to our service advisor at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley for more information.
Unless you live in Death Valley, you really don't hear much any more about cars overheating. That's because cooling systems in vehicles have been much improved. That doesn't mean you can't overheat your vehicle engine, though. Without proper preventive maintenance, you could still find yourself on the side of the road in Lancaster waiting for your vehicle engine to cool down.
When you service your cooling system at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley, your technician will check the condition of the coolant. It can become corrosive over time, which can damage a radiator — leading to an overheated engine. Changing the coolant periodically is good vehicle care. Your vehicle owner's manual can give you guidelines on how often to replace it.
If your engine overheated, your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor will also check your coolant system for leaks. Check the vehicle radiator for cracks and the radiator hoses for leaks. He'll also check your water pump. They don't need to be replaced on a regular schedule, but they do need checked regularly. They can and do wear out.
The water pump is a critical component of your vehicle cooling system. It pumps the coolant to keep it circulating through the engine. The coolant is cooled in the radiator, then it travels through the engine, where it absorbs heat, then it returns to the radiator, where it releases the heat. And so on. But a water pump is something of a misnomer. The fluid pumped through your vehicle cooling system is not just water. It also contains coolant, which is actually poisonous. You should never consider your radiator as an emergency water supply.
There are many types of coolant. It varies from vehicle to vehicle, and using the wrong kind could damage your engine. Your service advisor will know which kind your vehicle's manufacturer recommends. The team of automotive professionals at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley is always a good source for auto advice. We've been providing quality automotive services at our convenient location in Lancaster for years.
At The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley, we help you keep your cool which will keep you in the driving lane.
Coolant/Antifreeze Service at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley
Sep 03, 2014
Anyone who drives a car in Lancaster knows that engines get hot when they run. But did you know that engines need to be cooled to keep running? Heat inside an engine can cause the metal parts to expand, which can seize up an engine and make it stop running. It can even ruin the entire engine! Good vehicle care requires keeping its cooling system in good condition.
A vehicle's cooling system circulates water and antifreeze (coolant) through the engine where it absorbs heat. It then flows to the radiator where the water and antifreeze are cooled by the air that flows over the radiator. Then it circulates back into the vehicle's engine to absorb more heat.
Why shouldn't Lancaster auto owners just use water? Because water boils at temperatures that are often reached inside of an engine. Steam won't cool your vehicle engine and is hard to contain within the cooling system. The antifreeze keeps the water from boiling.
So why do we call it antifreeze? Shouldn't it be antiboil? Truth is, the antifreeze performs another critical task. Water freezes in cold California weather. That would spell disaster for your vehicle's engine. So antifreeze also keeps the water in your cooling system from freezing in all but the most extreme cold. Pretty neat stuff!
Taking care of your cooling system is part of good preventive maintenance for your vehicle. Lancaster area drivers should check coolant level often and regularly inspect your cooling system for leaks.
That is just good auto advice. Your vehicle's manufacturer has maintenance requirements for draining and replacing engine coolant. Consult your owner's manual or ask your friendly and knowledgeable The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor for these recommendations, as they vary widely among vehicles.
Today we want to talk about a system in our vehicles – the cooling system. It's one of those things that Lancaster auto owners don't give much thought to until it fails and then they're stranded by the side of a road in California.
Cooling systems fail more often than any other mechanical system – usually because of neglect. Don't you hate it when something breaks and you could have done something to prevent it?
The good news is that if Lancaster drivers take care of their cooling systems, they can keep working for the life of their car.
Here at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster, we emphasize preventive maintenance services like replacing your coolant according to the factory schedule. But the various parts that make up the cooling system need attention too. The major components of the cooling system are the water pump, freeze plugs, the thermostat, radiator, cooling fans, the heater core, the pressure cap, the overflow tank and the hoses.
It sounds complicated, but we Lancaster residents don't have to be experts – we can leave that to our friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley. But, having an overview will help us remember how to take care of your car's cooling system.
Most Lancaster folks would be surprised to know that burning fuel in your engine produces up to 4,500 degrees F/2,500 degrees C of heat. And all that heat has to be dealt with. If the heat can't be drawn off the engine, the pistons will literally weld themselves to the inside of the cylinders – then you just have to throw the engine away and get a new one. That would cost thousands of dollars.
Now the water pump is what forces the coolant through passages in the vehicle engine to absorb heat. The pump is driven by a belt that needs replacement from time to time. And the water pump will eventually wear out and need to be replaced. Spending some cash on replacing the belts and water pump is much less than the cost of repairing the extremely massive damage that can be done when an engine seizes.
There's another little known but important part of the coolant system that protects the engine. It's called a freeze plug. If you remember from high school chemistry, water expands when it freezes. In very cold areas, the coolant can actually freeze when the vehicle is left sitting.
It is hard to believe, but the expanding frozen coolant is enough to actually crack the engine block. The freeze plugs fit into the engine block. They fit tight enough to withstand the pressure of a running engine, but can expand or pop out if the coolant freezes. These little things save a lot of engine blocks.
The team at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley can check your cooling system and make any necessary adjustments or repairs. Give us a call.
Lancaster drivers rely on their vehicle's coolant system to keep their engine cool. Coolant (also called antifreeze) mixed with water flows through your vehicle engine and absorbs heat. The mixture then flows out to the radiator where it's cooled by air flowing over the radiator. From there the coolant/water mix circulates back through the engine to absorb more heat.
There's a reason we mix coolant and water. Water alone actually does a good job transferring heat from the engine. The problem is that water boils at a temperature that's easily reached inside your vehicle's engine, so it can turn to steam which does not conduct heat as well and is harder to contain.
Also, if it's freezing outside in Lancaster, the water in your engine could freeze while your vehicle is sitting out in the California cold.
So, if you remember your high school chemistry, you'll know that a mixture has both a higher boiling point and a lower freezing point than either component alone.
Coolant, or antifreeze, is specially formulated to keep your engine safe in a wide range of environmental and operating temperatures in and around Lancaster.
Whenever your vehicle is running, the coolant in the cooling system is working to keep your engine from overheating. When it's cold outside, the coolant acts as antifreeze to keep the fluid from freezing in your engine.
All that exploding fuel in your engine creates a lot of heat. Without coolant, the metal vehicle engine parts would expand so much that the engine would seize up and stop running. The parts could be broken or warp so badly they would have to be replaced. It could even be so bad that the whole vehicle's engine is ruined and has to be junked.
This is why it is critical that Lancaster drivers check coolant levels frequently and have their vehicle's cooling system inspected for leaks. Also your vehicle has a maintenance requirement for draining and replacing your coolant. These recommendations can vary widely, so check your owner's manual or ask us at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster.
The reason Lancaster drivers need to change the coolant is that it has additives in it to protect the cooling system. As you can imagine, with all the heat, the cooling system's a pretty harsh environment. The additives keep the fluid from becoming corrosive and damaging the radiator and other vehicle cooling system components. Over time, the additives are depleted and the coolant just has to be replaced.
Many Lancaster auto owners ask our advisors at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley why there are different colors of antifreeze. It is very important that you use the correct type of antifreeze. The different types of antifreeze – or coolant – are different colors so you don't mix them up.
They use different materials to make the cooling system, and they require different types of antifreeze to protect them.
So check with us at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster or your owner's manual for the right kind because using the wrong coolant can void the warranty for your vehicle cooling system.
The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley Radiator Service
Feb 26, 2013
The coolant system is a vital part of your vehicle. It is also the second most common cause for vehicle failures. Even though coolant system failure is fairly common in Lancaster, it is easy to prevent.
The most recognizable part of the coolant system is the radiator. It is connected to the engine with hoses and is filled with coolant. The coolant draws heat off the engine and then passes into the radiator. Air passes through cooling fins to reduce the temperature of the coolant and then it's back to the engine again.
There are several ways for the cooling system to fail. Most common is with the coolant itself. Coolant is comprised of water and antifreeze. The proper ratio keeps the coolant from either boiling away or freezing. Understandably, either can lead to massive engine damage.
Another coolant issue that is often overlooked by Lancaster drivers is the age of the coolant itself. Antifreeze has additives that protect the coolant system from corrosion. As these additives are depleted over time, they can't protect the radiator and other parts from rust, scaling and corrosion. That old container of coolant gathering dust in your garage may still keep your engine cool, but it won't protect it from corrosion.
If you get a warning message to check the coolant or if the vehicle temperature gauge is in the hot zone, your cooling system needs to be checked. It's OK to add water or antifreeze yourself. But you need to be cautious. Remember four things:
First, you never want to open the radiator pressure cap. You could be severely burned.
Second, get to The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster immediately if your coolant is low. If that is not possible, follow the directions in your vehicle owners manual - it will direct you to only make additions to the coolant overflow bottle.
Third, remember that you need a proper mixture of water and antifreeze. If you make an emergency addition to your cooling system, follow-up with your The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service center where we can make necessary adjustments.
Fourth, not all cars use the same type of antifreeze. You need to check your vehicle owners manual to make sure you use the right kind. Mixing antifreeze types or using the wrong kind of antifreeze may void the manufacturers warranty on your cooling system. Again, another reason to depend on your The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service center in Lancaster to do things right.
Remember, The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley has the equipment to change your coolant quickly and inexpensively.
Coolant Service at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley
Feb 19, 2013
Lancaster residents' vehicles have to operate in a wide range of California temperatures which requires the engine coolant to be able to perform 'no matter what.' Think for a moment about the environment where the coolant does its thing. Very hot, high pressure, corrosive...
And all the while, it has to protect the components of the cooling system from corrosion. These components are made from steel and aluminum, plastics and rubber. The coolant has to be formulated to protect against corrosion for all of these different materials. That's why vehicle manufacturer’s recommend different types of anti-freeze for our Lancaster, California, vehicles.
There are several different 'families' of anti-freeze available to us here in Lancaster. Your owner's manual will tell you what kind you should use. Of course, the automotive professionals at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley will know the right kind for your vehicle.
It's important to stay on top of this because coolant system failure is the most common mechanical problem people have here in Lancaster, California. Regular service needs to be done at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley to avoid failures and also to keep your warranty in place.
While the specifics of the service required may vary from vehicle to vehicle, your friendly and knowledgeable The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor will know what to do. You'll be advised to replace the coolant at specified intervals.
Some recommend periodic coolant system flushes. A flush adds a cleaning step to the fluid replacement process. Again, check to see what your owner’s manual recommends.