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How To Diagnose The Automotive Cooling System Problems

You stop at a traffic light and see the smoke coming out of the hood of your vehicle. Then the coolant temperature light comes on. Maybe you're driving down the road in cooler weather and you realize the car seems to be consuming more fuel and the heater does not work. They are systematic scenarios of cooling problems. The good news is that it does not take a trained mechanic or special tools to diagnose a problem in the cooling system, and it only takes around an hour to do a check.

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1. Notice when your car starts working at high temperature. It may be due the to the failure of various components of the cooling system.

2. Allow the engine to cool completely before examining it. Never open the hood with it still warm.

3.Check for leaks. It should be the first action to determine if you have a problem with the cooling system.


Make sure the car is at the correct level of coolant, at the operating temperature and under the correct pressure.

Find the various hoses with the hood of the car raised. There are an upper hose and an under engine hose, and two heater hoses.

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Make sure there are no leaks around the hose clamps or a break in the hoses.

Look around the radiator to make sure it does not have a leak and is therefore not the source of your problems.

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4. After the car has cooled down, remove the radiator cap. Now start and wait until the operating temperature of the car.

Look through the opening. If the thermostat is working properly, you can see the flow of the liquid. If not, the thermostat will be locked, and you will need to replace it.

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If you are having problems with the heater, it may be related to the heater core, which may be blocked and needs to be replaced. Find the two hoses smaller than the engine hoses; Are those that pass behind the engine compartment (bulkhead). One of these hoses should be slightly warmer than the other when the engine reaches the operating temperature, and the heater is turned on. If one is significantly colder than the other, the heater core is insulated and may need to be replaced.

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Check the radiator cap at an auto parts store to make sure you are maintaining the pressure. Replace the cover with a new one.

Look for other problems.

The water pump can also be the cause of a cooling problem. Bend down and check the vent at the bottom of the pump (with the engine off).

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The water pump is damaged and will need to be replaced if you notice coolant or moisture.

The water pump may have the impellers damaged. In this case, it does not pump enough liquid through the system and needs to be replaced.

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Another problem may be a clogged radiator. This can happen in vehicles where cooling systems are not routinely laundered, or their liquid is not replaced. The coolant must be replaced at least annually. The solution is to replace or restore the radiator.

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A final problem of overheating in vehicles with electric cooling fans may be referring to the non-functioning of the fans. With the vehicle parked and operating at the operating temperature, check that the fan is activated and blows the cool outside air over the radiator. If not, you will need replacement. Instead, take your vehicle to a reliable mechanic to see if it is not a blown a fuse or intermittent connection.

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Overheating is not the only problem you may have in the vehicle's cooling system. Some vehicles may run cold too. While not as aggressive to your engine as overheating, it can result in improper gas mileage. Ideal operating temperatures ensure adequate combustion. This problem is similar to overheating except that the thermostat remains open.

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Check the thermostat while the car engine is cold. Remove the radiator cap and start the engine. Check the radiator. The thermostat is open and needs to be replaced if you see coolant flowing. You may also have a problem with the heater core. Check for problems with the heater core by following the steps above.

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