6 Common Signs of a Cooling System Problem

Car engines run very hot. They are burning up fuel to provide power for the vehicle. That’s why your cooling system is so important. Most cars will use a traditional fluid-cooled system that requires an ideal mix of water and radiator coolant (antifreeze) in the radiator. It is then circulated throughout the engine through the water pump. This process keeps the engine from overheating and causing major damage within the vehicle.

The point is, you need your cooling system working properly at all times or it can lead to very costly engine repairs. Simard Automotive has put together this list of common signs that you may have a cooling system problem:

1. Car Overheating

If your vehicle is overheating—and especially if it happens more than once—then there is definitely something wrong within your cooling system. Your water pump may be failing, the head gasket may be worn out or there could be a coolant leak somewhere along the way. You’ll want to get it looked at by a professional mechanic.

2. Steam Coming from Under the Hood

Often when a car is overheating or about to overheat, you’ll see white steam coming from under your hood. This is a sign to pull over and let the engine cool down before driving again. If the problem persists, make sure to get your cooling system inspected as soon as possible before any major engine damage is done.

3. Low Coolant Levels

You can check the coolant level in your radiator. However, you’ll want to do it when the engine is cold. Heat and pressure will build up in the radiator, so it is very dangerous to remove the cap when everything is still hot.

4. Coolant Leak

Radiator coolant is easy to identify because it is usually bright yellow/green in color. If you notice a coolant leak underneath your vehicle, then that’s a problem worth getting looked at.

5. Burnt/Dirty Coolant

If your coolant is not bright yellow/green and translucent in appearance, that’s a problem. If it is dark, dirty or has a distinctive burnt, sweet smell, it’s time to replace the fluid and make sure the old fluid hasn’t caused any damage within the cooling system or engine itself.

6. Poor Gas Mileage

A noticeable decrease in fuel economy can be a sign of many different things, including the fuel system, the engine, the exhaust system, etc. It can also be a sign of a failing cooling system.

These are some of the most common signs of cooling system problems. If you notice any of these symptom, if any dashboard warning lights are illuminated or your vehicle is acting odd in any way, you want to bring it to an experienced auto shop like Simard Automotive in Fairbanks, AK.

If you are in Central Alaska and in need of automotive repairs or maintenance services, call Simard Automotive today at (855) 690-0889 (Aeronca Avenue Shop) or (855) 639-5001 (Gaffney Road Shop). Or, you can schedule your service appointment online.


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