The Cooling System

The Purpose of a cooling system

Have you ever wondered about how your car’s engine stays cool in the summer, and how it keeps from freezing in the winter? That’s the work of your vehicle’s cooling system. Your vehicle’s cooling system does a lot of work in all 4 seasons, and during all times of the day when you’re driving. The cooling system cools down your engine and keeps it operating at the proper temperatures. In other words, it maintains the engine at a constant temperature no matter if the temperature outside is over 110 or even 10 degrees below.

Your vehicle’s cooling system is extremely important. If the engine’s temperature gets too low the fuel economy will suffer and emissions will rise, and if the engine gets too hot for too long the engine can then self destruct. The key is to maintain the proper coolant and the proper mixture of the coolant, as well as learning the ways to take care of the parts to your vehicles cooling system. Developing a schedule to take care of these things will help keep your vehicle’s engine running at its optimal performance.


The coolant is a liquid that circulates throughout the engine to draw off the heat. This liquid is a proper mixture of antifreeze and water along with rust inhibitors and a lubricant. The coolant must be able to withstand temperatures well below zero without freezing, and must be able to withstand engine temperatures that exceed 250 degrees without boiling.

It is recommended that you see a professional mechanic for the proper amounts of mixture, they can tell you exactly how much your vehicle needs. Not enough antifreeze and the boiling point would be too low, and too much antifreeze will not work properly and then can cause a boil over.

Parts of the Cooling System

The cooling system is made up of the passages inside the engine block and heads and can contain:

  • a water pump to circulate the coolant
  • a thermostat to control the temperature of the coolant
  • a radiator to cool the coolant
  • a radiator cap to control the pressure in the system
  • and some plumbing consisting of interconnecting hoses to transfer the coolant from the engine to radiator and also to the car’s heater system where hot coolant is used to warm up the vehicle’s interior on a cold day.

The coolant is sent through the passages of the engine blocks and heads- this is where it picks up heat from the engine. This heated liquid flows through rubber tube and then into the radiator, and while it flows through the radiator it is cooled down by the air stream from the grill of the car. It is the water pump that keeps the fluid moving throughout the system. Once the liquid becomes cool again, it then returns to the engine to absorb more heat.

Radiator Service

Your vehicle’s radiator helps keep your engine cool. Overheated engines can lead to numerous problems, including eventual breakdowns. Your vehicle’ radiator sits at the front of the engine bay; it’s made up of slim, hollow channels that run between the inlet and outlet tanks. Coolant pumps through tubes to the engine, where it is warmed. Once the coolant reaches the engine, it goes to the radiator, which is constructed to cool the flowing liquid using the air passing the radiator. The cooled liquid cycles back through the engine, where it absorbs more heat. This cycle allows the engine to keep working at ideal temperatures.

If your vehicle overheats, you may need to have your radiator serviced or replaced. An elevated temperature gauge is another sign that your radiator might be malfunctioning. Puddles of green, yellow or orange coolant under your car could indicate that there is a radiator leak, which could be caused by corrosion. If you notice any of these signs that your radiator needs to be serviced or replaced, bring your vehicle to Gary's Automotive. Our Chico auto technicians can fix leaks or replace your vehicle’s radiator so you can get back on the road worry-free.

Maintenance and Repair of the cooling system

These parts of the cooling system will eventually wear out, break down and need to be replaced. Starting with the radiator, we see them coming into the shop with leaks or clogged with deposits. Depending on the damage, we will clean, repair or replace. We also see radiator pressure caps that can no longer hold the proper pressure. We recommend replacing pressure caps when you change your coolant to avoid this problem. We see leaky water pumps and hoses that need to be replaced. There’s also a part called the thermostat that opens and closes to regulate the flow of coolant. Sometimes they stick open or closed and the cooling system won’t work properly.

Engine damage from overheating can be very expensive to fix so it’s important to maintain your cooling system properly with scheduled coolant replacement and periodic inspections of the cooling system. Take a look at your owner’s manual to know when and how often to change your coolant, and certainly come in if you suspect a leak and just to have us take a look.


160 Rio Lindo Ave
Chico, CA 95926