Why You Need to Take Care of Your Car's Heat Exchanger

Have you ever wondered how it is possible to keep your engine temperature under control, despite the extreme conditions inside? This engineering masterpiece is down to a relatively simple device fitted to the front of your car or truck and based on heat exchange principles. How does this work, and, importantly, why must you always maintain the system in good condition?

Keeping Your Engine Cool

While a technical term may be "heat exchanger" most people refer to this component as a radiator. It exchanges heat through the interaction of ambient air and liquid and needs to be made from specific materials that are conducive to the job at hand.

Most radiators are made from brass, aluminium or copper and have a latticework of tubes and fins within a central matrix. These components are made from a very thin material and are, as such, prone to damage. This is why you need to keep an eye on this matrix as time goes by.

Understanding the Heat Exchanger

Inside the engine block, you will find a network of narrow passages as part of the cooling system. The water pump will force liquid through these channels, and this coolant will heat up as it absorbs the temperature from that cast-iron block. That heated water will flow out of the engine and through reinforced rubber hoses to the radiator. It will then be forced through the heat exchanger matrix under pressure while you drive your vehicle down the road. As cooler air flows across the surface of the matrix, the hot air will dissipate through the fins and escape into the atmosphere. When the coolant emerges from the other end of the radiator matrix, it will be sent back to the engine block to begin the process once again.

Dealing with the Risk of Damage

This is a very efficient system, but challenges can arise due to the radiator's position. This component must be open to the elements to achieve its objective but can also be struck by stones or other debris as time passes. When this happens, some tubes or fins could be broken, and the radiator could develop a leak. This will certainly compromise efficiency and could cause an overheating engine.

Servicing the Heat Exchanger

You must keep up with any scheduled service visits for many reasons. However, you will certainly want a technician to look at the condition of your radiator together with those connecting hoses and other ancillaries. After all, this may help you avoid a more expensive breakdown in the future. 

For more information about heat exchangers, contact a local auto shop.