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The cooling system in your vehicle is another very important scheduled maintenance part of your vehicle in addition to the oil change that you perform. However, it is one of the most neglected maintenance items that is missed or not performed. This is due to lack of understanding or misleading information that has been given to you. When coolant is neglected to be changed or tested, the chemical reactions can cause some interesting side effects. Besides rust and corrosion creating havoc on metals, hoses, plastics, gaskets and seals, electrolysis can occur. There are two types of electrolysis:
Type A is not caused by bad coolant, but rather bad electrical connections or grounds. Current for various electrical components and accessories that operate your vehicle can take a path thru the coolant due to a bad electrical ground.
Type B occurs because the acidic nature of the coolant and dissimilar metals (iron, aluminum, copper, zinc, etc.) in the cooling system create a makeshift galvanic battery in the cooling system.
Besides creating leaks in some situations, the aluminum oxide/corrosion reduces the heat transfer ability of the coolant to get rid of heat in the engine. This is because it provides an insulation effect on the metals it covers. A simple Digital Volt Ohm Meter (DVOM) can do the electrolysis test for you. Type B electrolysis will produce a more acidic nature within the coolant, so in addition to the voltage test, use inexpensive pH strips to test the pH level of the coolant. Generally, any pH level below seven is considered acidic. YouTube has many videos showing the procedure for both of these tests. A DC voltage reading of 0.6 to 0.7 volts states that it's time to change the coolant.
You also need to check the specific gravity (freeze point) of the cooling system. This is done with a cheap Hydrometer or a Refractometer which can check either (ethylene glycol) or (propylene glycol) based coolants.
All cooling systems need to be flushed and changed at three-year intervals. The proper antifreeze placed in the cooling system is extremely important, so check your vehicles service manual to find out which type of antifreeze to purchase. Before filling, a complete flush of the system needs to be done. When filling the system and if it requires water to be added there is a difference in water. If you don't purchase a pre-mix antifreeze, be sure to avoid using tap water. Some vehicles will even have a "No Tap Water" sticker under the hood. Tap water will vary from community to community and, of course, well water is rich in trouble-inducing minerals. Distilled water contains fewer minerals, so make sure you use distilled water instead of tap water for mixing.
Because of cavitation issues, you want all the air out of a system. Cavitation happens when the pressure in a liquid suddenly drops. This drop in pressure is caused by pushing a liquid quicker than it can react, leaving behind an area of low pressure often as a bubble of air. And this cavitation takes place within the water pump. The removal of air can be done several ways, with some more effective than others due to engine design. The obvious air bleed screws (if equipped) and following the manufacturer's procedures which are stated in the service manual is a good recommended way along with others which are called burping the system. All air needs to be expelled from the system when filling. Air pockets can cause problems with coolant temperature sensors reading incorrectly, lack of heat transfer, and the lack of water pump to circulate the fluid thru the system. For water pumps cannot pump air, and the same goes as the pistons in the combustion chamber cannot pump a liquid.
This was only a brief overview of a cooling systems needs and requirements. So, it is just as important as an oil change and required to extend the life of your vehicle. So please have your mechanic, any mechanic, or myself schedule your next engine cooling system test or change.
If any mechanic who reads this has any input on this message, feel free to contact me so we can discuss it and add any information to better inform the public in order to extend the life of their vehicle.
Please check out my other Craigslist ads posted in automotive services (Automotive repair), (engines rebuilt or replaced), (A word about timing belts & chains), (A Word about your vehicles Electrical System), (5 Types of Head Gasket Failures), (Vehicle problems, how can I help), (Vehicle head gasket cautions).
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