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CAR FACTS
Cooling System

Your engine's cooling system is designed to eliminate the heat produced by engine friction, thus preventing damage to your engine.

The basic components of your vehicle’s cooling system are the radiator, fan, water pump, thermostat, sensors, an overflow tank, water, coolant, and a series of belts, clamps and hoses to connect the system and make it run. The system works by directing fluid past the hottest parts of your engine and then redirecting that fluid out to the radiator, where the heat that is collected gets dissipated into the cooler atmosphere.


The fluid within your car's cooling system contains both water and coolant/antifreeze.  The coolant/antifreeze extends the freezing and boiling point of water and also inhibits rust.

 

Your radiator sits just behind the front grille of your car.  It consists of a series of tubes which contain the coolant/water combination. Attached to these tubes are thousands of little metal fins. These fins increase the surface area of the radiator, exposing the heated fluid inside to the cooler surrounding air. The heat gets whisked away by the atmosphere.

Most vehicles have an electric fan attached to the radiator.  This fan runs intermittently, coming on only when needed.  A heat sensor determines when the fan should run.  The fan increases the volume of air moving past the radiator fins.  A vehicle traveling at 60 or 70 mph has its own built-in airflow system and  doesn't need a fan running continuously.  When you go more slowly or stop, your fan will come on as the fluid temperature in your radiator rises.

 

Your water pump drives the coolant through the system. The water pump is driven by a pulley which is connected to the engine.

Your cooling system also includes a thermostat, which senses temperature and controls fluid flow within the system, a plastic overflow tank, which serves as a reservoir for excess coolant, and the various hoses, clamps and belts.

 

 (An important note of caution:  NEVER open your cooling system to add fluid when the system is still warm. The contents are scalding hot and are under extremely high pressure.)


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