Cold Weather Means Time to Check Your Car’s Coolant
Car Tips from Kenny the Car Guy
By Kenny Walters
As the leaves change color and the temperatures fall, it’s time to make sure your car’s cooling system is ready for winter. Sounds funny to prepare a cooling system for colder weather, so let me explain what goes on under your hood.
Every time you drive your car, the engine heats up to incredibly high temperatures. A series of hoses and fluids inside your car keep the engine at a manageable temperature and prevent overheating. Then, when you stop driving, the engine cools rapidly. That’s a lot of change from cold to hot and back again.
[Did you know: The cooling system in a car driving on the highway offsets enough heat to warm two houses! Your cooling system’s primary job is to keep the engine from overheating by transferring heat to the air.]
Just like our bodies would be shocked by going so often from hot to cold, imagine the engine of your car in much the same way. You want to ensure the transition between extreme temps goes smoothly – which means your belts, hoses and fluids must be maintained at optimum levels so every piece of your car’s interior does its job. When your engine is cold, components wear faster and your engine becomes less efficient.
I recommend flushing coolant every two years. Otherwise, it breaks down and loses the ability to keep your engine cool – the water pump, heater core and radiator will fail which ultimately will ruin your engine. That’s a lot of damage and what’s worse, you’ll end up stranded somewhere with no notion of how to fix the situation.
Let’s keep thousands of dollars of in your pocket – not spent on serious breakdowns – by preventing this problem.
At my shop, Mufflers and More, I offer a really great deal – a BG fluid flush. BG is a company that offers a 100% guarantee up to $4000.00 per event if you flush your fluids at certain milestones. You pay anywhere from $130-150 for the flush, and then if you have a failure, BG foots the bill.
It just happened to a friend’s 2001 Corvette Z06. With 42,000 miles on his car, my friend did a BG transmission fluid flush and then a month ago, his transmission failed. It was a major repair job, in the ballpark of $2,000 worth of damage – but BG picked up the tab because he’d done the flush.
In colder weather, one problem leads to many problems. If a water pump fails, the power steering, air conditioning and charging system are all affected, and the cold affects your battery. If your heater core is damaged, I have to pull out the entire dashboard to fix it. That’s four figures worth of repair costs – extra cash most people don’t have worked into their monthly budgets.
Keeping your cooling system in tip-top condition affects the entire engine. The combustion chamber vaporizes fuel completely, reducing pollution. The oil that lubricates your engine is thinner, so engine parts move more freely. And the metal parts (there are many!) wear less.
So do this: flush your coolant every two years, replace your hoses and belts every four. When you don’t check, change and flush, the parts of your car break down and clog the system. Imagine little bits of rubber from long-used hoses gliding their way into the engine – yuck. Just because your car looks good on the outside doesn’t mean it’s OK on the inside.
If you haven’t done any of these in a while (or aren’t sure), bring your car in for a glance under the hood. It’s better to be safe than stranded.
Kenny Walters, a Temple Israel member, owns the award-winning auto shop Mufflers and More at 490 N. Pontiac Trail in Walled Lake, 248.668.1200, www.mufflersandmore.net. Email Kenny the Car Guy at Kenny@mufflersandmore.net.