Top 4 Ways to Diagnose a Cooling System Issue

Cooling System

Cooling System

Understanding Your Cooling System

Your cooling system is essential to the overall health and well-being of your engine, especially during warmer temperatures, and vehicles produce a significant amount of heat during operation. They need to be regularly cooled in order to avoid overheating and other forms of engine damage. Your vehicle’s cooling system may be either water cooled or air cooled. According to, “A water-cooled engine block and cylinder head have interconnected coolant channels running through them. A pump, driven by a pulley and belt from the crankshaft, drives hot coolant out of the engine to the radiator, which is a form of heat exchanger. Unwanted heat is passed from the radiator into the air stream, and the cooled liquid then returns to an inlet at the bottom of the block and flows back into the channels again. The radiator needs a constant flow of air through its core to cool it adequately. When the car is moving, this happens anyway; but when it is stationary a fan is used to help the airflow.” In an air-cooled engine, the block and cylinder heads are made with deep fins on the outside that cooled air flows over.

Common Reasons Why Your Cooling System May Be Failing

If you suspect that your cooling system may be failing, there are multiple possibilities as to why that can range from simple, DIY remedies to costly repairs and replacements. When diagnosing the problem, it is best to begin with the simplest and then move on to more complex problems. If you have a cooling system failure, ultimately, you will have an engine failure, so keeping your eyes and ears tuned into the below 4 elements:

Coolant – Coolant is an essential part of keeping your engine running at an optimal temperature. Checking your coolant regularly and keeping coolant reservoirs topped off will protect your engine from overheating. Regularly checking fluid levels will also inform you of possible leaks, and often when your vehicle is leaking coolant, you will see and smell coolant on the ground beneath your car. Coolant, which contains ethylene glycol has a sweet odor, and can have a bright, neon-green hue. Coolant may be leaking from a radiator hose, a failed intake manifold gasket, a cylinder head, a radiator cap or from the actual radiator. When diagnosing the location of a leak, check hoses for possible holes or cracks, and if you don’t find any, check your radiator for signs of leakage.

Thermostat – Your engine’s thermostat is similar to your body’s ability to thermoregulate in hot and cool temperatures. It lets you and your engine know when internal temperatures need to be cooled down. When the thermostat malfunctions, you run the risk of overheating your engine as it increases in heat.

Radiator Fan – Your radiator cooling fan is an important part of the overall cooling system. When your radiator fan breaks or malfunctions, the vehicle can overheat quickly and cause costly or irreparable damage to the engine. If the engine is running, the fan should be moving, pulling air through the radiator and dissipating heat with the liquid coolant.

Obstructions – Your vehicle’s cooling system is made up of many belts and hoses which can become clogged and obstructed. External obstructions can be power washed clean and removed, but internal obstructions can be a bit harder to locate and diagnose. Coolant can become blocked or slowed and airflow through the system can be reduced as well as your radiator simply becoming dirty. If you have an internal cooling system obstruction, consider having your cooling system bled, or do a flush.

The Bottom Line

Keep your eye out for signs and symptoms that might suggest that your cooling system is on the verge of failure. Common indicators are puddles of coolant underneath your vehicle, elevated temperatures displayed on your car’s dash, the smell of antifreeze or hissing noises coming from your engine. Regular checks and maintenance of your cooling system where you identify any leaks or potential problems will the overall health and longevity of your engine. The bottom line – when you take care of your engine, your engine will take care of you.

Contact an SCL Consultant Today

In a wide range of industrial sectors, SCL is committed to being the number one logistics and solutions provider for the products that protect and optimize the machines that keep our country moving. We pride ourselves on remaining at the forefront of industry trends and technological innovations, and as the market continues to evolve, we are committed to providing extensive product and industry knowledge and total performance satisfaction for our customers. For information on how we can assist your fleet in choosing the optimal products at a competitive price, contact an SCL consultant today.

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