How to look after COOLING systems and avoid chronic OVERHEATING.
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Do you have an engine overheating problem?
Does your engine overheat, despite thoroughly checking out the cooling system? This is not unusual, especially with diesel engines!
We have many customers who have spent hundreds of dollars on new water pumps, thermostats, heat exchangers, radiators, mechanical or chemical cleaning .. and still had engines that overheat under load.
Reason .. internal “sludge” had caused insufficient oil supply .. and reduced oil-to-metal contact .. reducing the essential cooling effect of the engine oil.
The following article is reproduced by kind permission of the author, Brid Walker, from his book “Discover the Secrets of .. Adding Amazingly Long Life to YOUR Vehicles & Equipment” © 2001. Brid, who lives in Queensland, is an authority on vehicle and machinery maintenance.
Cooling systems…a quick death to engines, if they fail!
It’s been said that more than half of all engine failures can be traced to cooling system problems. It may be the obvious failures due to a loss of coolant, or broken fan belt, or it may be that a complication of an overheating episode some time ago (eg loss of oil control due to overheated piston rings losing their tension) could cause an oil usage problem that eventually builds carbon deposits. The result, for example, could be a deposit related valve failure.
Cooling systems need protection from several different sources.
• Scale. The use of hard water (containing minerals of calcium and sodium especially) can form deposits that insulate and thus prevent effective heat transfer away from cylinder heads and cylinder bores. These same deposits can cause blockages in radiator tubes. Where possible the use of rain water is recommended to minimize this problem. Conventional management of such scale deposits calls for periodic flushing of the system with a radiator cleaner. This should be used in conjunction with a quality corrosion inhibitor.
• Corrosion and rust. Protection of cast iron and steel components and also corrosion of acid susceptible aluminium components are the main concerns here. But with modern engines, the use of solder, brass and plastic is common. This includes rubber hoses and seals, which can become hard in service. Complete materials compatibility is required with cooling system inhibitors.
• Electrolysis. This describes the electrolytic attack on metals, primarily aluminium, eg thermostat housings, water pumps, cylinder heads, etc. It is commonly evident as a white powder-like coating under radiator hoses. A coating of silicone water repellant sealant applied to the mating surfaces of hoses to provide a barrier is useful, since only a few cooling system treatments are entirely effective in this respect.
• Cavitation erosion. This is a problem commonly experienced in wet cylinder liners and water pumps and is caused by bubbles, which form and collapse against the surface of these parts. Cavities form at the surface and can eventually perforate liners and other parts.
• Hoses, rubber seals and O-rings. Eespecially around water pumps, these require protection to preserve their original properties. Most common inhibitors unfortunately harden rubber seals and O-rings and often form granules, which become abrasive to these parts.
The cooling system should be checked at every oil service.
Inspect all radiator and heater hoses for signs of deterioration, eg leakage, softness, perishing, corrosion or cracking. Check all hose clamps for security and tightness. It’s also a good idea to pressure test the system. It’s a quick, but useful test, and can detect small leaks before they become serious ones.
For best life and efficiency, the cooling system should be drained, flushed with a de-scaler and recharged with a quality inhibitor on an annual basis, preferably just before Summer. Anti-boil/anti-freeze should be used when conditions demand it. At this stage we know of only one cooling system treatment, that provides complete protection to all materials, minimizes electrolysis and cavitation erosion and keeps rubber seals and O-rings soft and pliable. In addition, it breaks up and suspends scale, as well as lubricating water pumps.
There is one more thing you can do to protect against engine damage from an overheated cooling system.
Time and again, I have come across cases of severe engine overheating, which should have resulted in a completely wrecked engine. Yet, little damage occurred! While writing this book, I was made aware of yet another case. My daughter came home the other night to tell me the Volvo was running roughly and down on power. Oh yes, it was also running hot! In fact it was way into the red, for the last 15-20 minutes! On inspection, six hours later the engine was still pretty warm. All the coolant had been lost through a failed water pump gasket. The engine should have been a wreck, yet it turned over by hand normally, then started and ran normally, with no apparent damage. As with all the other cases, this engine was using a specialty oil, capable of withstanding extreme temperatures and high loads. In this case it was treated to an additional anti-wear/anti-seize agent. Specialty lubrication had just saved me in excess of $5000. Just a word of caution, though .. specialty lubricants are cheap insurance for such unexpected problems, but never rely on them to replace the cooling system’s job.
(Editor’s note: NEPTUNE Products have a special flushing oil concentrate DeSLUDGE to help ensure good engine oil flow and cooling oil contact especially under pistons. SupaSLIP is our anti-wear/anti-sieze oil additive which reduces friction and subsequent heat, whilst itself withstanding extreme temperatures and high loads, thus reducing the chance of an engine seizure.)