Photo by Chris Chase. Click image to enlarge
By Jim Kerr
When it comes to summer driving, if I may be permitted a bad pun, there is the thrill of travel and the pain of de heat. Whether you are crossing the prairies in a hot headwind, climbing hills in the mountains or travelling across deserts south of the border, hot weather can create problems for your vehicle.
How many times have you seen a vehicle on the side of the road with the hood up? If you have travelled at all, it must be hundreds if not thousands. While the problem with the vehicle could be anything, often it is overheating that creates the problem. Preventative maintenance will stop most of these faults from occurring.
Our vehicle engines operate on a mixture of antifreeze and water. We could use ordinary water, but it doesn’t contain any lubricants for the waterpump or anti-corrosive additives for the cooling system. Also, leave water in when the temperatures drop below freezing even a couple degrees and you could find the side of the engine broken out as the water freezes. Use the correct mix of antifreeze and water for the most efficient cooling. Many are mixed 50/50 with water but some need a 60/40 mix. Read the label on the container.
Take a look under the hood. The coolant should not be murky or rusty in colour. If it is, it needs flushed and new coolant installed. Never open the radiator cap while the engine is hot. Hot coolant can instantly turn to steam when the pressure is released and scald you in an instant. Look instead at the coolant in the overflow or expansion tank. Most tanks have a cold and hot level mark. As long as it is between those two, it will be fine.
When an engine gets too hot, it puts a lot of pressure in the cooling system. Hoses may burst. Most of the stress on any hose is at the ends, where it connects to another part. Look for soft spots or cracks on all the coolant hoses – even the little ones- and change the hose if you see any at all.