I feel like I may have touched on this before, but I figured it’s worth stressing the importance of cooling system maintenance.

Overheating the engine in today’s cars can cause more damage to your engine than you can imagine.

By “overheating” this is not what I mean (yet it came up in a Google image search):

^^ That’s a Car-B-Q, we’ll save that topic for another day. This is what I mean by “overheating” :

While the reason for your car overheating can be for any number of reasons, we’ll touch base on a few of the basic reasons.

A loss of coolant will naturally cause an engine to overheat, as this is the fluid that circulates through the engine from the radiator and back to cool the engine down. Without this, there is nothing to cool it down from the insane heat of internal combustion. If you have to continually add coolant, get the leak looked at and fixed because this can snowball into a much bigger problem.

Take the 2005 Avalon that came in to us on a hook with a non-running concern. The customer said the check engine light came on and it started making a slapping sound and then died. Turns out it had a leaking radiator and water pump. This overheated the engine and warped the heads, destroying the engine. Money.

 

Cooling fans. These are what draw air into the radiator when the vehicle isn’t moving fast enough to force in outside air to cool the coolant in the radiator. If your vehicle runs hot or overheats when stuck in traffic or when driving around town, this could be why.

Coolant. See how nice and green that stuff is? It should not look like this:

Or this:

Or this:

Be sure to have your coolant flushed at the suggested maintenance intervals to keep your coolant at the proper protection levels (freeze and heat protection).

Why is this stuff so important? Most modern engines have aluminum heads and blocks because they’re lighter, cheaper to make, and dissipate heat better. The problem here is, aluminum warps or cracks when it gets too hot.

If your head gasket(s) go bad, coolant and oil mix and the engine begins consuming it. If you ever see milky engine coolant or oil, a blown head gasket/cracked head is likely the culprit. Another way to tell your head gasket(s) is bad, is you’ll see a lot of white smoke coming from the exhaust and it will have a sweet smell.

Head gasket repairs are not cheap, and in severe cases (like the Avalon mentioned earlier), it can lead to catastrophic engine damage.