Now that we’ve talked about oil and how important it is to your car, let’s talk about coolant, your car’s other lifeline.
What is the purpose of coolant? I’m sure you know that coolant is added to your radiator. The name has the word cool in it so that helps determine its function. You probably know it’s green (it is also other colors). Maybe you know that some people also call it antifreeze. (See blog Is It Coolant Or Antifreeze Or What? if you don’t know the difference between coolant and antifreeze.)
Either way the main purpose of coolant is to maintain your engine’s temperature. It is not just to cool. You don’t want your engine to be cold. You want the engine to be hot enough to burn fuel efficiently and cool enough to not melt and seize up. Mechanics call it the optimum temperature.
A running engine is HOT. It can get up to 6,000 degrees F. The optimum temperature for an engine is 1,200-1,700 degrees F. Super hot! The coolant helps keeps the temperature of the engine at a max of 1,700 degree F.
When your car is on, an engine is running continuously. So coolant is continuously being circulated or pumped. It is heated up as it passes through the engine and cools back down as it passes through the radiator. It’s a big circle of pumping coolant to help keep your very expensive engine happy and running at its best!
Here’s a good way to visualize it. You know that C to H gauge on your dashboard? C is for Cool and H is for Hot. Some cars have numbers instead of a C or H. The numbers represent temperature of the coolant.
When you first start the car, the needle it is on C. Your engine is cold and the temperature of the coolant is cold.
As you are running the car, the engine starts to get hotter, the coolant which is pumped around the engine starts to heat up. The needle on the gauge starts to rise. Depending on how cold it is outside, it takes 2-10 minutes to get the needle directly in the middle of the C and H. This is when coolant and engine are running at their optimum temperature.
If the gauge starts to creep up above the middle of the C and H, this is considered your car “overheating”. The engine and coolant are starting to rise to dangerous temperatures and you are in trouble of damaging your engine! Coolant will start to boil off making the overheating problem even worse because you will have even less coolant. Shut off the car as soon as safely possible!
Coolant also prevents metal parts of your car from corrosion and freezing in cold climates.
Questions about coolant? Come to a free Girls Auto Clinic Workshop. Email me for more information firstname.lastname@example.orgRelated Links Oil And Coolant Are Your Vehicles Lifelines Is It Coolant Or Antifreeze Or What? Know Your Colors!