You are here: Home / Articles / Maintenance / Cooling System / Spotting Warning Signs of Cooling System Troubles

Spotting Warning Signs of Cooling System Troubles

For patients with heart conditions, the expertise of a specialist can mean the difference between life and death. In a way, the same is true of vehicles with cooling system problems. That's why the National Automotive Radiator Service Association (NARSA) is urging motorists to bring their vehicles to a cooling system specialist for a maintenance check-up. Simply put, radiator and cooling system specialists, like cardiologists, have the tools, technology and expertise to quickly pinpoint a problem and resolve it, thus essentially saving the "life" of a vehicle.

Maintenance check-ups by a cooling system specialist can help prevent problems, emergency repairs and/or replacements. Check-ups should be performed at least once every two years. But if problems do arise, it's important to recognize the warning signs so you can take appropriate action.

Just as the heart circulates oxygen and other vital nutrients to various parts of the body, the car's water pump circulates antifreeze/coolant throughout the radiator and the cooling system. Such circulation protects the engine from overheating. That's why a consumer's ability to recognize the warning signs of cooling system trouble is so important. The five most obvious warning signs include:

  • Antifreeze/coolant on the pavement

  • Temperature warning light goes on or temperature gauge reads higher than usual

  • Engine overheating

  • Poor air conditioner or heater performance

  • Antifreeze/coolant on the floor of the passenger compartment

Any of the above signs could indicate a leaking, clogged or corroded radiator or heater and/or deteriorating or leaking radiator or heating hoses. Leaking or corroded radiators, heaters and hoses can restrict coolant flow, causing poor air conditioning performance, poor heater performance and engine overheating. It's important to bring a vehicle exhibiting these problems to a specialist as soon as you notice any of them. Radiators and other cooling system components can be repaired rather than replaced if the problem is corrected quickly. If cooling problems are not repaired quickly they can cause costly damage to other parts of the vehicle, such as the engine."