Have a Question?
< All Topics

Cooling System Checks 101

The first step is a physical inspection which ideally is done weekly. Check the coolant level which is usually either just below the radiator cap or in more modern systems is indicated by a cold level line in the transparent plastic coolant tank.

Look at the fan belt for cracks or glazing on the part that runs between the pulleys. If it is cracked it will break. If it is glazed, it will slip. Also check the tension. You should be able to move the fan belt about 12 mm (½”) when you push on it between the alternator and crankshaft pulley. This is a fairly firm push, not just move it with slight pressure. Tighten or replace the belt as necessary.

Then, inspect all the hoses for cracking. Merely being fairly new to you does not mean they are “new”. The hose could have been sitting in the warehouse for a while before being sold. If the hoses look good, look at the ends where they attach to the radiator, water pump and the thermostat housing. If you see a build up of crud or an actual leak, tighten the hose clamp.

Look for signs of water leakage around the water pump pulley. This indicates a bad seal. Then, try to shake the pulley or fan back and forth. If it moves, the water pump bearings are beginning to go and you should replace the pump.

Lastly, check the pressure cap to see that the rubber is not cracked and is still flexible. If it is cracked or not flexible, replace it. The above checks have been performed with the engine cold. Removing the pressure cap when the system is hot or under pressure can scald you. Always wait until the radiator and engine block are
cold before removing the pressure cap.

If you are having to regularly add coolant then your system may have a leak when the motor is hot and pressure builds up in the system or the pressure cap is bad and is not allowing the system to pressurize properly.

A pressure check is better done by a radiator specialist.

On The Marque May 2020

Table of Contents