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By: Mike Veenstra
Now that the worst of the cold weather appears to be behind us, we can all relax a bit and drive easier (while still navigating carefully for potholes which will take awhile for the city and the county to address). Soon all of West Michigan’s famous apple trees will be flowering and green leaves will shoot out and you’ll be tempted to go out for a relaxing drive in the scenic countryside.
Meteorologists are forecasting a milder summer for us this year, but we’ll still get some hot days, so it’s a good idea to find out what shape your car’s radiator is in because that is what keeps the engine cool and running on hot summer afternoons and evenings. Changing the coolant is also a very good idea.
The radiator itself is vulnerable to corrosion from road salt. When you have your next car service, ask your mechanic to look it over and make sure it’s not compromised. A poorly working radiator leads to an overheated engine, which can result in a cracked or warped cylinder head or a blown gasket – all bad news for you and any road trips you might want to take this summer. So it’s worth checking over the radiator itself as well as the radiator cap and any hoses.
It’s also possible for your radiator to be functional but inefficient due to clogging. The coolant which runs in the cooling tubes within the radiator core, if ignored for long enough, will eventually become clogged with rust. This impedes flow and, thus, cooling. A good test for a plugged radiator core is to see if your engine runs when it’s under stress; for example, when driving at high speeds for longer periods of time or up steep streets or hills. If you see this happening ask your mechanic to run a flow test.
Over time antifreeze/coolant loses its effectiveness as well, so in areas of extreme cold, your radiator should be drained and your coolant replaced at least once a year. Ideally, this car service should be done after having your radiator flushed of all dirt, rust, and other contaminants.
During the milder weather of spring, it’s great to clean and wash the car, making it look new again so you can get the most enjoyment out of it. A little maintenance under the hood will go a long way to making sure it doesn’t just look good, but runs great as well for all of those summer adventures you’re planning.