A vehicle's cooling system is designed to protect the engine from the destructive forces of too much heat. If the system isn't in good repair, simple tasks such as sitting idle in rush-hour traffic can cause a vehicle to overheat even when temperatures drop below the freezing mark.
Heat, sometimes expressed as Btus or British thermal units, is the one item that every diesel engine has in abundance. One Btu is the amount of thermal energy necessary to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.
A cylinder head gasket is required to effect a seal between the cylinder head and block of a gasoline or diesel engine. It is an integral component of the engine and is requires to perform many functions at the same time during engine operation.
Internal combustion engines run on heat. Chemical energy in the fuel is transformed into thermal energy when the fuel burns, which produces mechanical energy to push the pistons, spin the crankshaft and drive the vehicle down the road.
Would you believe me if I were to tell you that the presence of a few tiny bubbles, some so small that you need a microscope to see them, could destroy a diesel engine? One problem that has been plaguing the owners of diesel rigs for years is cavitation.
In the world of HD trucks, off-road equipment and stationary power sources, the emphasis is always on more - more horse-power, more digging power, more break-out force, more hauling capacity and more generated power.
Reader Question: My car is overheating, what causes this to happen?
To properly diagnose your overheating complaint
we need to rule out a few basic things.
Reader Question: I want to flush the radiator in my car, how do I do it?
The first question that comes to mind is WHY do you want to do this? Red flags go up in my head when customers ask me a "how do I..." question.
Did you know that up to a third of the heat energy produced by an internal combustion engine ends up as waste heat in the cooling system? A gallon of gasoline produces about 19,000 to 20,000 BTUs of heat energy when it is burned, which is enough to boil over 120 gallons of water!
The head gasket is one of the most critical gaskets in an engine because it has to seal all of the combustion chambers as well as the coolant and oil passages between the head and block. The gasket has to provide a leak-free seal from the moment it is first installed, and maintain that seal for the life of the engine - which might well be 150,000 miles or more on many of todayís vehicles.
Ordinary leaks are easy enough to diagnose because they're hard to miss. A leak of any size at all will weep, drip or spray coolant. The resulting loss of coolant usually leads to engine overheating, which can cause more damage if the leak isn't found and fixed. Leak inhibiting additives can usually seal small leaks. But sealers are a temporary fix and more of a do-it-yourself product.
Ordinary leaks are easy enough to diagnose because theyíre hard to miss. A leak of any size will weep, drip or spray coolant. The resulting loss of coolant usually leads to engine overheating, which can cause more damage if the leak isnít found and fixed.
The last thing any motorist wants to see is a TEMP warning light flashing in his/her face, or worse yet, steam billowing out from under the hood of the vehicle. Yet it happens all too often. The hotter the weather, the greater the load on the cooling system and the greater the chance of the engine overheating if the cooling system canít handle the heat.
Extreme cooling performance. Thatís what August typically demands from a vehicleís cooling system. The thermal loads created by the hottest ambient temperatures of the year, maximum air conditioning and city traffic can push many cooling systems to the max and give a vehicle a bad case of the BTU blues. As cooling demands climb, the system has to work harder and harder to dump the extra heat. Eventually the point may be reached where the cooling system canít keep up with the load and the engine starts to overheat. What happens next depends on the driver, the driving conditions and the vehicle itself.
One method is to use a block tester, also known as a combustion leak tester, to determine if you have exhaust gases in your cooling system. A combustion test kit can be found at your local NAPA, auto parts store. The part number is 700-1006. The price for this part is less than $50.00. Exhaust gases in your cooling system can suggest a head gasket leak, a cracked block, or a warped head, etc.
Itís not unusual for automobile enthusiasts to want to increase the power of the engine in their automobiles and many aftermarket options are available to them to accomplish this. Increasing the engine horsepower then presents the problem of making sure that other components of the vehicle, such as the drive train and the cooling system, can handle the increased engine power.
Radiators and heaters have undergone considerable improvement. And we have had superior antifreezes in recent years (even before the introduction of the orange organic acid type). So it seems hard to believe that so many radiators and heaters fail from inside-out corrosion and perforation. Of course, vehicles are being kept in service much longer (thank high sticker prices for that), so eventually even better systems will fail. But in addition to low antifreeze protection and depleted inhibitors, there are other specific problems that contribute to the perforation failures.
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