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Part 1: What is a Cooling System?
The coolant follows a path that takes it from the water pump through passages inside the engine block, where it collects the heat produced by the cylinders. It then flows up to the cylinder head (or heads in the case of a V-type engine) where it collects more heat from the combustion chambers. It then flows out past the thermostat (if the thermostat is opened to allow the fluid to pass), then through the upper radiator hose and into the radiator.
The coolant flows through the thin, flattened tubes that make up the core of the radiator and is cooled by the air flow through the radiator. From there, it flows out of the radiator, through the lower radiator hose, and back to the water pump. By this time, the coolant has cooled off and is ready to collect more heat from the engine.
The capacity of the system is engineered for the type and size of the engine and the workload that it is expected to undergo. Obviously, the cooling system for a larger, more powerful V8 engine in a heavy vehicle (I’m think of the new 5.6 litre Nissan Patrol) will need considerably more capacity than a compact car with a small 4-cylinder engine (Basically a Suzuki). On a large vehicle, the radiator is larger, with many more tubes for the coolant to flow through. The radiator is also wider and taller to capture more air flow entering the vehicle from the grill in front.
The coolant that courses through the engine and associated plumbing must be able to withstand temperatures well below zero without freezing. It must also be able to handle engine temperatures in excess of 100 degrees without boiling. It’s a tall order for any fluid, but that’s not all—the fluid must also contain rust inhibitors and a lubricant.
The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) has two standards for anti-freeze. The first is SANS/SABS 1251, where a product must be diluted with clean water in one of two different ratios – either 50/50 (1:1) or 33.3/67.7 (1:2). The second, SANS/SABS 1839, is where a coolant is already diluted with water in a 40/60 ratio and is ready to use.
If a pre-diluted anti-freeze is diluted even further, it can not only lose its ability to prevent freezing but could also cause corrosion inside a cooling system. This is also true for using straight water, even in warm summer months. But, using straight, undiluted anti-freeze can also be harmful. Without a proper water mixture, anti-freeze can cause your engine to run hot.
This article covers the basics of the cooling system, so that in subsequent articles we can take an in-depth look at each component! Start My Car stocks the entire D.O.E cooling range from thermostats and housings to rubber hoses and radiator caps.
Perhaps the takeaway point from this article, especially as the coldest winter months are quickly approaching, is to ensure that we top up our Antifreeze. And not just any Antifreeze. It is worth paying a few extra Rands for something which is so vital to your engine.
Have a look at our featured product, keep safe and keep warm!
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