Cooling system issues are the leading cause of roadside breakdowns, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. To make matters worse, an estimated 23 million people are operating their vehicles with the wrong kind of coolant.
During the hot months of summer, it's just as important to hydrate your car as it is your body. Using the wrong coolant for your car could result in radiator and pump damage. Not sure which coolant is right for your car? Check the label under your hood or your owner's manual. If you are buying coolant for your vehicle, make sure to read the label to confirm the product is made for your vehicle's make and model.
An excellent method of preventative maintenance for your cooling system is to have it flushed. Refer to your owner's manual for recommendations. The frequency of how many times a year you have it done depends on the vehicle you drive and the conditions you drive it in. If you're in a state that has sweltering summers, you may need to change your coolant twice a year or just before summer and winter. If your weather is moderate, an annual cooling system flush will be sufficient.
Other checks are simple. Make sure your hoses are attached properly and that they do not have leaks and are not cracked or brittle. Look for signs of corrosion on your radiator and check to see if the radiator cap fits tightly. Are the coolant levels correct? Is your coolant clean and free of oil and sediment? Incorrect coolant levels and dirty coolant could also lead to your engine overheating.
If you're just running water through your radiator, consider using an anti-freeze. It may seem a strange product to use during the heat of summer, but antifreeze contains corrosion inhibitors that have a higher boiling point than water. When having your cooling system flushed, ask the mechanic to check the thermostat. If for some reason your thermostat is stuck, an incorrect reading could lead to your engine overheating.
Another way to prevent your engine from overheating is to use a radiator coolant additive like Royal Purple's Purple Ice. Purple Ice is a high-performance, synthetic radiator coolant additive that reduces engine heat in gasoline or diesel engines by optimizing coolant flow and lubricating water pump seals. "Purple Ice not only helped cool my engine, but it also made a noticeable improvement in its daily performance," says Leo Nelson of Beaumont, Texas. Purple Ice also reduces engine heat in vehicles that are towing campers and boats.
Although gas prices at the pump are higher than last summer, Americans are still relying on their cars to travel to their destinations whether it is for work or vacation. Taking the time to make sure your car is ready for the summer drive will keep you on the road instead of stuck on the side of it.