It is recommended that a preventative cooling system maintenance check be performed at least once every two years. Consult your vehicle owner’s manual for specific auto guidelines. This inspection is designed to identify areas that need attention.
It’s a good idea to inspect the system every 12,000 miles, especially if you travel a great deal. Antifreeze (coolant) helps to protect your engine from overheating or freezing. However, over time the liquid can degrade. The fluid is also caustic. If it is left in the radiator for too long a time, it will eventually corrode the metal and cause radiator leads. You should always keep your engine clean by removing scale and rust and preventing corrosion.
Engine Cooling System Inspection Includes:
- Visual inspection of all cooling system components, including belts and hoses
- Radiator cap pressure test to check for the recommended system pressure level
- Thermostat check for proper opening and closing
- Pressure test to identify any external leaks to the cooling system parts; including the radiator, water pump, engine coolant passages, radiator and heater hoses and heater core
- Internal leak test to check for combustion gas leakage into the cooling system
- Engine cooling fan test for proper operation
The main function of the Cooling System is to carry heat away from the engine and maintain the desired operating temperature. This is accomplished by circulating antifreeze/coolant through the engine, where heat is generated, and carrying it to the radiator to be cooled.
On most older vehicles, the water pump is driven by either a V belt or serpentine belt on the front of the engine that is also responsible for driving the alternator, power steering pump and air conditioner compressor. These types of belts are easy to inspect and replace if they are worn. Check for dry cracking on the inside surface of the belt.
The radiator hoses and heater hoses are easily inspected by opening the hood and looking. You want to be sure that the hoses have no cracking or splitting and that there is no bulging or swelling at the ends.
If there are any signs of problems, the hose should be replaced with the correct part number for the year, make, model and engine of the vehicle.