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We take a look at a car's cooling system and its importance, as well as how to prevent engine overheating with proper care and maintenance.
Imagine being stuck in traffic on your way to an important meeting and your car's water temperature is rising as rapidly as your blood pressure. That doesn't sound like fun at all.
Problems like hot weather conditions, low water and coolant levels in the radiator, a faulty electric fan assembly and small cracks that allow coolant to leak can arise and cause the engine to run hotter than normal, resulting in engine overheating.
In a nutshell, anything that decreases the cooling system's ability to absorb, transport and dissipate heat will cause overheating and should never be ignored. An overheated engine causes damage to the rings, pistons and rod bearings, leading to its untimely death - or what mechanics will sometimes term as 'engine piang.'
To better understand the cooling system in our car, we approached Sonny from renowed car racing specialists ST Powered and his mechanic Andy to find out more.
On the go
In the unfortunate event that the temperature gauge in your car rises from its normal idling spot and the 'Check Engine' or 'Temperature' malfunction indicator lights up, stop driving.
Turn the engine off, give the car some time to cool down and try to find a temporary solution before driving to your nearest workshop. More often than not, adding coolant into the radiator and coolant reservoir tank (if you carry a bottle around) will be a great temporary solution. Otherwise, a bottle of water will also do as a last resort.
Never remove the radiator cap when the engine is running or still hot and do not pour cold water into a hot radiator. This could cause the engine block to crack due to the sudden change in temperature and only in an emergency should you add only water to the coolant system. Most modern engines have aluminium cylinder heads that require the protective anti-corrosive properties.
Also check the coolant reservoir tank. If the coolant reservoir tank is empty, you may have sprung a leak. Once that's done, give your mechanic a call to check if it's safe for you to drive down to the workshop. In more serious cases, assistance from a tow truck may be necessary.