Maintaining Your Heavy-Duty Truck’s Cooling Systems for Optimal Performance
You expect a lot from your truck’s engine. Your vehicle’s performance is paramount and downtime can cost you big time. Your business’ success is why it’s important to perform proper inspection and maintenance of all your heavy-duty truck systems/components, especially when it comes to your heavy duty cooling systems.
If you are a fleet owner, oversee an agriculture company or an independent operator, you know that if your vehicle is in the shop or service center, you are losing money due to downtime. Knowing how to properly maintain your cooling system to ensure continual efficient performance and dependability, can help prevent this.
Avoid unnecessary repairs and downtime by maintaining your cooling system. In this article, we’ll explain the importance of your engine’s cooling system, break down the main components of your engine’s cooling system, and explain how to prevent costly repairs from neglect of basic maintenance. We’ll answer some of your top questions:
- Why Is Your Engine’s Cooling System So Important?
- Engine Cooling System’s Main Components
- How Exactly Does Your Truck’s Engine Cooling System Work?
- Common Signs and Symptoms Your Cooling System May Need Maintenance
Why Is Your Engine’s Cooling System So Important?
Simply put, your engine’s cooling system keeps the engine from overheating by the transfer of engine heat to the coolant and dissipated in exchange with moving air. If the cooling system fails in any way or is affected by poor maintenance, the result can be costly engine repairs and even disastrous engine replacement from extreme overheating. Even transmissions using the cooling loop from a radiator can be affected and sustain damage.
Five Essential Duties of Your Engine’s Cooling SystemThe primary duties of your heavy-duty cooling system are:
- Efficiently transfers engine heat
- Controls critical metal temperatures
- Increases the cooling index (helps prevent overheating failures)
- Provides protection against freezing.
- Inhibits rust and corrosion for cooling system metals
Engine Cooling System’s Main Components
The main two major components are the radiator and charge air cooler for the turbocharger. These two parts are vital to your engine’s overall cooling system. However, they would not be able to properly achieve all aspects of cooling and protecting your diesel engine without the following:
- Radiator Caps
- Surge Tanks
- Oil Coolers
How Exactly Does Your Truck’s Engine Cooling System Work?
Basically, there are 2 means of dissipating engine generated heat. Air to liquid exchange and air-to-air exchange.
Air-to-liquid Exchange Your truck’s radiator is the integral component in this cooling process. Via an engine driven water pump, it circulates a coolant loop which supplies coolant to the engine and returns it back through the radiator. As the coolant flows through the fins and tubes inside the radiator, it transfers the heat from the coolant to the air. Once the excess heat is removed, the radiator then re-circulates the cooled coolant back through the engine chambers. This is an ongoing process of pushing cooled coolant from the radiator into the engine and taking the hot coolant from the engine and pumping it into the radiator.
Air-to-air ExchangeInstead of transferring heat via coolant, charge air coolers lower the engine’s temperature by transferring heat into the air. The charge air cooler, which is essentially an air-to-air heat exchanger, is designed for recirculating and cooling exhaust air along with ambient air back into the engine air intake system via a turbocharger.
Common Signs and Symptoms Your Cooling System May Need Maintenance
Like all wearable parts in your truck, the parts and components of your cooling system can eventually wear down.
Inspect your radiator if you see some of these common signs and/or symptoms:
- Leaking coolant which is dripping from a crack in your radiator or in your radiator hose. If you notice coolant under your truck or are constantly refilling your coolant, it is a sign that you have a leak. One of our service technicians/mechanics can perform a pressure test. This can help determine the source of the leak. We can repair the source of the leak.
- Coolant Contamination: If rust is present in the radiator, it can cause significant damage to your engine block. Often when rust mixes with coolant, it becomes thick and sludge-like which can lead to engine corrosion.
- Overheating: Over time, the radiator can become plugged by outside debris in the fins and also be affected by internal conditions such as coolant contamination and corrosion. If your radiator is working properly, the high temps could be a sign that your coolant package is exhausted, the engine thermostat has gone bad, or the water pump is not working properly.
Inspect your charge air cooler if you see some of these common signs and/or symptoms:
- Loss of engine power
- Increased fuel consumption
- Elevated coolant temperatures
- Exhaust manifold failure
- Premature piston, ring, and valve failure
- Turbocharger failure
- Increased particulate levels in emissions