Radiators are also known as heat exchangers. As the name suggests, radiators radiate heat energy, and thus work to transfer heat. Radiators are mainly used in buildings and automobiles, the basic purposes being heating and cooling. As it exchanges thermal energy between two media, one of the media is cooled while the other gets heated up. On our first impression of the word ‘radiator’, we usually associate the heating part to it and tend to leave out the cooling one. In practice radiators are used vastly for the latter cause. For instance, in automobiles, radiators control the temperature of the car engine and consequently prevents over heating.
The internal combustion engine of an automobile is cooled by the operation of radiators. They are also used in piston-engine airplanes, motorcycles and trains for the same purpose. A cooling solvent passes inside the engine block, absorbs the heat from the engine and then passes through the radiator. Once inside the radiator, it releases the heat energy, accumulated from the engine, to the surrounding atmosphere. Usually the cooling solvent, more appropriately called the coolant, is pumped and a fan is used to blow air through the radiating device.
The radiator of a truck or any automobile for that case, is one the most significant components. Radiator malfunction can lead to serious accidents and can be rooted from the simplest of problems. Therefore it is of utmost importance to run proper maintenance checks on a regular basis and one should seek professional help if the radiator shows the slightest hint of malfunction. Dirt, rust and clogging up - hampers the normal operational process of radiators and can lead to unforeseeable predicaments. Routine checkups and servicing might help to alleviate such problems, which are inevitable for aging radiators.
A very commonly asked question is, ‘what is the correct engine temperature?’
Most truck engines operate normally within the temperature ranges of 195-220 degrees Fahrenheit. Under a moderately uniform temperature, a truck is likely to produce a sound performance. Overheating will result in damaged rings and pistons and may also give rise to the problem of pre-ignition. Pre-ignition occurs when hot spots are created inside the internal combustion chamber due to overheating and often affects the carburetors which can have an equally bad impact on the pistons by creating holes on the top surface. Overheating of the engine can further blow up aluminum gasket heads which swell like pop corns when heated to high temperature. This may lead to leaking coolant when the temperature drops down. Furthermore, if the cooling liquid heats up and reaches it boiling temperature, it will cause radiator pipes or even radiators to burst due to increased pressure. It can also result in swelling up of pistons and thus cause serious engine damage. Whenever there is a warning that the car is over heating, it is strictly advisable that the engine be turned off immediately and some time be allowed for the engine to cool down to a safe temperature.
Overheating results from anything that reduces the cooling capacity of the radiator. Low level of cooling liquid, a reduction in heat conductivity, a faulty thermostat, inadequate airflow, a defective cooling fan, or even a loose water pump impeller may instigate the engine to overheat. As heat flows from a hotter region to a cooler one, to keep the temperature of the metal down to a safe level, a cooler liquid must always be in contact with the hot metal. This way heat will be dissipated through the circulating solvent. Anything that hinders the free flow of cooling liquid leads to overheating of the engine. The coolant must be able to transfer the heat to the surrounding atmosphere by passing through the radiator. If the radiator fails to accommodate for that because of an inefficient cooling fan, the engine will overheat. Even if all these components work with flawless efficiency and the thermostat fails to operate properly, it will restrict the free flow of coolant. The domino effect will be the eventual overheating of engine.
Attributes to check:
- Thermostat: Overheating can damage thermostat. If replacement is required, it should be substituted with one of same temperature rating. Most trucks have a temperature rating of 195-225 degree Fahrenheit.
- Leaks: Coolant loss is one of the major causes of overheating. Check for leaks in hoses, heater core, radiator, water pump, freeze plug, thermostat housing, block and cylinder heads.
- Fan: Flaws in the fan clutch can lead to overheating.
- Radiator: Common problems with radiators are blocks due to dirt and leaking. A clogged up radiator will block air flow.