Throughout my career of helping sick cars get well, I've notice that customers pay particular attention to such items as brakes and tires. While Thai's all well and good, I've found that less numbers of people pay close attention to their vehicle's cooling system and that can be a major and costly mistake.
Your vehicle's cooling system plays just as crucial a role in the proper operation and maintenance of your vehicle as its engine, transmission or suspension system. Therefore, it's important that you take the time to check your cooling system periodically or bring it here to the Auto Clinic for us to check. Right now is an especially good time to have your vehicle's cooling system checked before the really hot weather arrives.
Often, people don't even think about their car's cooling system until they smell a hot, "chemical-type" burning coming from underneath the hood. This is usually the result of a radiator leak. Antifreeze/coolant drips out onto the hot parts of the engine (such as parts of the exhaust system). The quick evaporation of the antifreeze/coolant can cause this kind of burning smell.
If you think this might be the case, it would be wise for you to carefully monitor the radiator fluid level. If you seem to be losing an unusually large amount of fluid, bring in the vehicle to have its cooling system checked by one of our friendly specialists.
Perhaps the most common experience people have in regards to their car's cooling system is when they notice a small puddle of yellow greenish fluid in the driveway where they park the car. That fluid is your antifreeze/coolant.
First, look to see if the vehicle's radiator hoses have burst, or if a clamp that holds the hose in place has loosened. If so, you can try to fix the hose temporarily, using a new clamp (which we recommend you should keep in your trunk) to secure the hose to its connection until you can drive to the Auto Clinic for a permanent replacement.
If the hoses seem to be all right, your radiator could be cracked, or its petcock (a small valve or faucet which drains off excess fluid) could be dripping. If the petcock is all right, fill the radiator with more antifreeze/coolant. (Again, we recommend that you carry some extra antifreeze/coolant in your trunk.) Drive your vehicle as soon as possible to the Auto Clinic or a service station to have the problem checked out professionally.
Of course, the best advice to follow is to regularly check your antifreeze/coolant level when you check you vehicle's oil, transmission fluid and other key fluids. Before you start the car in the morning, remove the radiator cap and make sure you have plenty of water. You only need to do this once every couple of weeks or perhaps a bit more depending on how much you drive.
As is the case with so many things, a little bit of prevention is preferable to the alternative. If you consistently neglect your vehicle's cooling system, you risk overheating your car's engine. It make a lot more sense and is a lot cheaper to buy a new radiator hose and a couple of gallons of coolant than undergo major engine repair or replacement. If you think you may have a cooling system problem, bring your vehicle in and we'll be glad to look at it.