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It's Hot! Make Sure Your Engine Cooling System is Cool

 

Regular inspections and pressure tests of your cooling system are of utmost importance, as is good maintenance by following the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended coolant change intervals. As time passes, the protective anti-corrosive additives in the antifreeze break down and lose their effectiveness. But antifreeze has two other very important jobs as well:
• It is used to decrease the temperature at which the coolant freezes.
• It is used to raise the temperature at which the coolant will begin to boil.
It is also very important that the proper ratio of water to antifreeze is always maintained. Unless specified otherwise by the vehicle manufacturer, the coolant in most vehicles should consist of a mixture of 50% water and 50% antifreeze before being added to the cooling system. This 50/50 solution not only prevents freezing, but also preserves proper cooling properties. Also concerning the antifreeze to water mixture ratio: adding more antifreeze to the mix (once again, unless otherwise specified by the vehicle manufacturer) to increase its percentage in the mixture is not better. Generally speaking, after the ratio exceeds more than about 65% antifreeze to 35% water, freeze protection can actually diminish, but even worse, heat dissipation can radically decrease, since the water is the primary substance used for this purpose. Antifreeze itself actually has fairly poor heat transfer characteristics. Having too much antifreeze in the mixture can actually cause engine overheating.
One more very important point about antifreeze: there are now many different formulations available for use in different vehicles, and even in specific applications. It’s not just “the green stuff” any more, there’s red, orange, yellow, blue, etc. But don’t think this means that you can just go by color. Even though color can be indicative of a certain type of antifreeze, those of the same or similar color can be formulated substantially differently. For the most part, different types of antifreeze should not be mixed, and also, in many cases, one type can not be substituted for another. Doing so could cause all sorts of problems, including severe cooling system or engine damage.
Make sure that the proper antifreeze formulation for your vehicle is the one being used. The vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation can be found in your owner’s manual.
Regular maintenance is always the best insurance against cooling system failures, and breakdowns on the road.
E-mail macswordlwide@macsw.org, Visit www.macsw.org

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