Radiator Fans and Your Vehicle’s Cooling System

Radiator Fans and Your
Vehicle’s Cooling System

Introduction: If you’re old enough to have been around cars a few decades ago, you’ve probably heard the term “fan belt” tossed around. Back in the day, the radiator fan in your vehicle was turned by a belt driven by the engine. While those belt-driven fans are still found in some vehicles today, most modern cars have transitioned to electric fans. 

The Basics of Cooling

As your vehicle’s engine runs, it generates a significant amount of heat; this is where the cooling system comes into play to prevent overheating. Coolant (also called antifreeze) circulates through the cooling system and captures heat from the engine. The coolant then flows into the radiator, where air cools both the radiator and the coolant before returning it to the engine to absorb more heat. The key is to keep the engine within an ideal temperature range–not too hot and not too cool.

In today’s vehicles, electric radiator fans play a pivotal role in helping to keep your engine at the optimal temperature. A switch, strategically placed within the cooling system, continuously monitors the coolant’s temperature. When the coolant’s temperature hovers at the lower end of the safe range, the switch turns off the fan motor. However, as the coolant temperature rises, the switch springs into action, turning on the fan to cool things down.

Many modern vehicles are equipped with two radiator fans. Depending on various conditions, one or both fans may be operating at any given time. When cruising at highway speeds, the rush of air over the radiator and around the engine naturally helps in controlling heat. On the flip side, city driving with frequent stops and starts doesn’t offer the same natural airflow, so radiator fans have to work overtime to maintain the optimal temperature.

Air Conditioning and Radiator Fans

If you’ve ever wondered why your radiator fan seems to be working harder when you’re using the air conditioning, here’s the answer: when you engage the A/C, it adds an extra load to the engine, generating more heat. To counter this, the radiator fan often kicks in to dissipate the extra heat created by the air conditioner, ensuring your engine doesn’t overheat under the added strain.

Maintenance Matters

Now, here’s a crucial point to remember–radiator fan motors and the switch are wear-and-tear items. Over time, they will eventually fail. If you ever find your temperature light coming on while driving, it’s likely due to a cooling system issue. At this point, it’s essential to schedule a cooling system inspection. Regular servicing will not only keep your engine running smoothly but also extend the lifespan of all the cooling system components.

Radiator fans may not be the most glamorous part of your vehicle, but they’re essential for maintaining the health of your engine. If you suspect an issue with your cooling system or are due for maintenance, schedule an appointment at EuroCar Service! We specialize in complete care for European makes, including Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover, Mini-Cooper, Fiat, Volvo, Volkswagen, Saab, Jaguar, and Smart Car

Schedule an appointment with us today at (206) 527-8828, or request an appointment through our online form.  

Cooling System Service: Keeping Your Engine Cool and Protected

If your engine never overheats, you may wonder if a cooling system service is really necessary. It’s always running at the proper temperature, so everything must be OK, right? Unfortunately, overheating is one of the most common causes of mechanical engine failure. Here’s a look at how overheating happens and why keeping your cooling system well maintained is so crucial.

What Goes On Behind the Scenes in Your Cooling System

Going from running well to suddenly overheating and engine damage isn’t a sudden process but an invisible one happening behind the scenes. The engine coolant circulates through the engine, where it absorbs heat and then flows back to the radiator, where it’s cooled. Then it’s recirculated back to the engine. If the coolant can flow freely and there are no leaks, it can do its job.

The problem is, the cooling system is a harsh environment. The temperatures are very hot, and there are several reactive materials in the system, like metal, rubber, and plastic. Over time, the coolant becomes corrosive and small pieces of metal and other materials begin to flake off and circulate in it. Once this happens, these small pieces of debris can begin to clog the small passages of the radiator, which impedes the coolant’s flow and leads to overheating.

In addition, corrosive coolant can start to eat away at parts of the system, causing leaks. New coolant is full of anti-corrosive additives, which neutralize the reactions that cause corrosion. But, these additives will eventually get used up and leave the cooling system unprotected.

For this reason, every vehicle manufacturer gives recommendations for when cooling systems should be serviced. Your service technician can also test your coolant for freeze point and PH to see if it needs to be replaced. Keep in mind, though, that these numbers may be off if you’ve added straight water to the radiator. Fresh coolant is essential to protect against harmful corrosion.

Hopefully, this has helped you understand your cooling system a little better and why it’s so important to take care of this maintenance service to prevent unnecessary repairs down the road!

Need Cooling System Service or Repairs?

From cooling system service and other types of routine maintenance to full-scale repairs, you can count on the team at EuroCar Service to keep your vehicle running its best. We see all European vehicles, including Audi, BMW, Land Rover, Mercedes, Mini-Cooper, Saab, Jaguar, Volkswagen, Volvo, Smart Car, and Fiat. Schedule your appointment today by calling 206-527-8828 or request an appointment online.

Don’t Get Heated

All gas-powered vehicles – from Audi to Volkswagen – run on an internal combustion engine. Combustion causes the gas to heat up and expand, producing a lot of energy that powers the car. The cooling system circulates coolant (a mixture of antifreeze and water) around the engine, absorbs heat, and disperses it through the radiator. If the cooling system fails, your car can overheat, and the heat can even cause extensive engine damage.

Don’t let this happen to you! Protect your engine by keeping an eye out for these potential issues with your cooling system.

Coolant leaks:
Do you see liquid on the ground under your car? It could be various things, but if it’s bright green, yellow, or pink, it is likely coolant. Antifreeze comes brightly colored and is toxic to pets, bad for the environment, and very messy. This can compromise the pressure of the cooling system. If you are constantly needing to add coolant, it may be leaking and you might not realize it.

Overheating Vehicle:
If your car already overheats on a hot day or during a long drive, that’s a sign that there could be an issue with your cooling system. It’s best to get it checked out before the problem becomes worse.

Never Changing Out Your Coolant
Many fluids in your vehicle need to be flushed out and replaced, including oil and brake fluid. Your coolant needs to be flushed as well. Over time, coolant picks up sediment that can clog the system and decrease performance. By exchanging the coolant, the experienced team at EuroCar Service removes the old coolant and sediment, putting in new fluid. Antifreeze contains anti-corrosion additives, that are important to coat internal surfaces of the cooling system, protecting against oxidation (which can lead to leaks) and scale (that clogs the system). As you drive, the protective coating is reduced and system components can be left vulnerable to corrosion.  That’s why we recommend routine coolant flushes, and especially if any part of your cooling system is replaced. For example, when you put in a new water pump it is not coated with anti-corrosion additives.  If your anti-corrosion package is already depleted, the new water pump will immediately be subject to corrosive elements that will quickly start to reduce its life cycle.  If you change the coolant when the new water pump is installed, it will be protected the first time you start the engine.If you have any questions about your cooling system, contact EuroCar Service. We are experts in all European makes including Audi, BMW, Fiat, Land Rover, Jaguar, Mercedes, MINI, Saab, Smart Car, Volkswagen, and Volvo.