Winter is coming. Is your cooling system ready?
With the hustle and bustle of wintertime bearing down on Canadian motorists, it’s often easy to overlook the simple maintenance required to keep our rides running at their best.
Though new cars, trucks and SUV’s are built needing less maintenance than ever before, it’s still important to make sure you stay on top of the factory-prescribed requirements. Not only will this ensure longer life and lower costs for your ride, but it’ll help prevent any component failures that are likelier in cold weather. Scheduled maintenance is often required to keep your warranty active, too.
Wintertime is very hard on your vehicle and its engine. Any preventative maintenance and upkeep you perform in anticipation of the harsh weather ahead will generally result in smooth, worry free operation for the season.
Your cooling system is particularly important this time of year. In addition to keeping your engine running at it’s ideal operating temperature, it also transfers engine heat to the cabin when you turn on your climate control system. It’s all done via a specialized fluid that’s circulated throughout the engine to absorb, remove and re-use the heat generated when it’s running.
Over time, the effectiveness of this coolant fluid diminishes. When that happens, it’s time for a coolant change- which is done in varying intervals for different vehicles or on an ‘as-needed’ basis as recommended by your mechanic.
A radiator flush is also a good idea periodically. Over time, dirt and ‘sludge’ can accumulate within the system, reducing its effectiveness and leading to reduced life of your radiator, water pump, and the engine itself. A coolant flush rinses unwanted contaminants out of your cooling system to ensure it’s clean and functioning properly from the inside out.
Remember- vehicles have coolant that’s mixed in a specific ratio with regular water. This ratio can change over time- and a technician can check the effectiveness of your coolant to make sure it won’t freeze solid when the mercury drops. If this happens, it could cost you an engine- so the price of a cooling system check-up seems fairly reasonable in comparison.
Though newer vehicles have longer service intervals than ever, your older model may benefit from an occasional check-up to ensure everything’s working properly and that there are no leaks. If your car’s been dripping a bit of green fluid all summer and fall, you’ll definitely want to get it looked it ASAP.
A check-up should include a look at the coolant level, effectiveness, thermostat and water-pump belt as well. It may be a good idea to have your mechanic or dealership technician perform other cold-weather maintenance while they’re under your hood too- like a charging system check, for instance.
In all, your cooling system isn’t a terribly complicated thing- so reliable operation is generally just a matter of keeping on top of the relatively minor maintenance it requires occasionally.
With two thumbs up from your mechanic, a healthy cooling system will allow you to head confidently into the upcoming winter travel season.