Car temperature remains one key aspect to consider when guaranteeing a vehicle’s performance in the short, medium and long term. When we refer to temperature, it does not mean the temperature inside the cylinders, it means in the engine cooling system itself.
Both internal factors (such as failed engine components) and external ones (such as cold weather) can have an impact on how long you should warm up your car and the vehicle’s car temperature issues.
Fortunately, there are a series of indicators and tests that can be performed to understand car engine temperature and the potential problems associated with it. Keep reading to find out.
Engine temperature: how does it work?
Average car temperature ranges should be between 195 degrees and 220 degrees. These can vary depending on vehicle conditions and operations (for instance, they might change if the air conditioner is operating).
If we are faced with an engine that tends to overheat, this could cause more serious faults such as the cylinders and piston rings ending up losing their hermetic seal. On the contrary, if the engine does not attain its operating temperature quickly when starting (about 15 minutes), there is a problem: when the engine is not capable of reaching its temperature, this will result in greater wear and fuel and oil consumption.
There are a number of system components to ensure the normal operating temperature of a car engine, including:
- Water pump
- Radiator cooling fan
- Cooling system pressure cap
This set is part of the cooling system, essential for the engine, in charge of maintaining consistent car temperature. This works as follows: when the engine operates, it warms up; the components mentioned above will then be in charge of cooling it down.
System malfunctions may lead to a lack of cooling down and extreme temperatures that could end up in costly repairs or replacements. This is the reason why car temperature checks should always remain a top priority.
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How to detect car temperature problems: key points
Engine coolant: is it enough?
The engine coolant, commonly known as antifreeze, is typically made of a 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and demineralized water, and is responsible for correct car temperature, avoiding overheating and freezing, as well as corrosion.
For its replacement, it is always advisable to consult your owner’s manual for this specification as to what you need, although as a general rule it is necessary to change the coolant every 40,000 kilometers or every two years.
Certain conditions might cause it to deteriorate or for its levels to be inadequate.
Low coolant levels can take place because of internal or external leaks. In this case, they might be responsible for engine overheating. This is the reason why coolant levels should be consistently tested. In order to do so, look for the coolant overflow tank and check that the levels are between the lines of “low” and “high”.
Additionally, car owners must ensure they use the specific coolant that is designed for their vehicles.
Checking the thermostat
Car thermostats consist of a valve between the engine and the radiator that are responsible for regulating the flow of coolant. In order to do so, they open or close a valve depending on engine conditions: the valve will open when car temperature is at its highest, letting the coolant in and preventing the engine from overheating.
As a consequence, if the thermostat doesn’t work properly, car engine temperature can be inadequate and engine components might be severely damaged. In this case, the thermostat must be replaced.
In order to check the thermostat, first make sure the engine is cool. Then remove the radiator cap to check coolant flows and start the car. At the beginning, it shouldn’t flow as the engine hasn’t reached operating temperatures. However, if the coolant doesn’t start flowing, it will mean the thermostat is in a closed position and might be damaged.
When a radiator gets clogged, coolant will stop flowing into the water pump, thus avoiding the heat from the coolant to dissipate into the outside air. The direct result of this is engine overheating and malfunction directly related to extreme car temperatures.
In order to check if there’s a defective radiator, first ensure the engine is cold. Remove the radiator cap and check if debris has built up inside and outside the radiator. Internal clogs will need a radiator replacement, while outside blocks can be cleaned using compressed air.
Also, if the engine overheats, but the coolant still flows through the radiator, this is a serious concern: the cause could be a faulty water pump or leaks in the circuit.
The heart of the system: the water pump
The engine water pump represents a key element in an engine’s functioning, as it’s in charge of circulating the coolant through the engine and the radiator.
There are two clear signs that indicate a defective water pump: leaks from the passenger side of the engine and also screeching or high-pitched noises. This means that it will probably need a replacement.
Other ways to detect a faulty water pump include:
- Seeing if the coolant is not circulating by removing the pressure cap from the cooling system. However, as we’ve seen above, this might also be related to a faulty thermostat, so this possibility must also be considered.
- A visual inspection of the water pump might reveal signs of leakage, such as green or white tracks, as well as wetness
Keep reading: The importance of using the right coolant liquid
Best ways for warming up your car in the wintertime
The cold is not usually an ally for most of the components of the car. And although there are many myths about warming up our vehicle’s engine more quickly or efficiently, the truth is that the best way to properly warm up the car is to warm up the engine just long enough for the car to be comfortable and safe during the driving. For this reason, at Dolz we recommend the following two practices:
- Once inside the vehicle, start the vehicle and let the engine run for 30 seconds. That’s all it takes in major vehicles.
- A constant and smooth driving during the first kilometers of the march and working the mechanics controlling the car with sudden unintended acceleration. With this we will obtain an adequate proportion of air and fuel, avoiding excess fuel consumption.
These are two key decisions in ensuring that an engine warms up progressively and efficiently.