3 Signs Of Cooling System Trouble

When it comes to prolonging the life of your vehicle, everyone knows that routine maintenance is vital. Unfortunately, parts can still fail even on well-maintained cars. Recognizing the signs of failure can help you avoid more expensive problems down the road, but some issues are more severe than others. When it comes to catastrophic failures, cooling system issues and oil loss top the list.

Cooling system failures can be dangerous because even a short period of overheating can result in severe internal damage. If you want to ensure that all of your maintenance efforts don't go to waste, it's essential to learn these three signs of imminent cooling system failure.

1. Your Fan Runs Constantly

Manufacturers design cars in many ways to accomplish different goals, from high-performance to comfortable highway cruising. While cooling system designs can vary significantly, most include a radiator fan to help remove heat from the coolant under stressful conditions. Older vehicles typically use mechanical fans, while many newer cars have electric fans controlled by the computer.

Regardless of the style, this radiator fan should not run at full blast at all times. You may notice it running primarily on hot days, when idling for long periods, or when using the air conditioner. If the fan runs constantly, it's a good indication that there may be an issue with your cooling system. Even if you don't have any warning lights, you should consider scheduling a service appointment as soon as you can.

2. You're Adding Coolant

Your car's coolant system is a closed-loop. Under normal operating conditions, coolant loss should be extremely minimal. Since the coolant does contain some water, you may lose small amounts to evaporation. Still, this loss will rarely be noticeable if you flush and replace your coolant according to manufacturer specifications.

If you need to add coolant to your car frequently, your system is most likely leaking. Coolant leaks may seem minor at first, but they can progress rapidly. Suddenly losing a significant amount of coolant can cause your car to overheat rapidly, leaving you stranded and even causing severe engine damage. Always address coolant leaks as soon as you notice them.

3. Your Temperature Fluctuates Significantly

You should expect slight variations in your car's temperature. You'll typically see higher temperatures while idling or running the AC and lower temperatures while cruising on the highway at low RPM. Some manufacturers electronically limit the coolant gauge to remain centered as long as these variations stay within a set range.

However, significant variations are a cause for concern. Temperatures that remain too low may indicate a problem with a stuck thermostat, while temperatures that frequently creep up might result from a failing water pump or another critical failure. If your temperature seems to sometimes increase too much for comfort, stop driving your car and schedule a service appointment with an auto repair shop, such as Tony's Auto Air.