Our cars here in Singapore do not last a lifetime like most other countries, most of them go to the scrap heap or are exported when they reach 10 years old at the end of their COE. A smaller percentage make it past 10 years and have their COE renewed 5 or 10 years by paying the PQP. (If you need help with that, we provide the service to help finance and get it done).
But ten years is still a long time for things to go wrong if they are not maintained – everyone understands that a well maintained car is going to give you problem free motoring. I’m not here to tell you what most people already know from common sense – the small details are what mystifies most motorists.
I’m going to share a secret here to help those who are keepers (not those who change cars all the time), but those who like to keep their four wheeled friend happy and in tip top order. I’m not about to tell you go for your service when the mileage is due or go before it’s due because it’s worth it. Yes, of course this is true. But here’s something most people do not know,
Take good care of the radiator!
Why do the water hoses swell up?
Why does the engine start to leak oil?
Why does the water pump rust and need replacement?
Why is there increased fuel consumption?
Why is your air con cutting off sometimes?
Why does the engine get damaged?
All these can be related to that one thing, the radiator. If you fix them separately without solving the radiator, they will come back to haunt you.
When the radiator gets less efficient, more heat is trapped in your engine (which constantly burns fuel and generates heat). This trapped heat causes all of the above to happen and likely in the order of those questions you see above.
So, the answers:
The water hoses swell because of high heat and pressure building up within and over time this causes the rubber radiator hoses to swell.
If poor quality coolant or just plain water is used in the radiator, this causes the water pump (made of metal) to rust over time and eventually the rust clogs the fine radiator capillaries, and eventually the water stops circulating robbing the radiator of efficiency over time.
Clogged radiators can sap your engine power, because a belt is used to drive the radiator water pump and that gets heavier and more difficult to drive if the water has a hard time passing through the radiator, which can lead to extra fuel consumption.
The air conditioner will cut of if the engine oil or water temperature gets too high, to save the car from further damage, so it’s not always the air conditioner that is at fault. How do you know? Keep a look out for the temperature gauge.
And all this overheating eventually leads to engine damage, if it gets too hot the engine block may warp, crack or the whole engine may cease (pistons jammed in the cylinders) resulting in costly repairs, but it’s also likely to cause other more minor issues at the beginning, such as the breaking down of gaskets that keep the engine oil within the engine, so you may start seeing oil leaks first before the major damage is done.
Simple Steps For Radiator Care
For the whole mess described above, the best way to avoid it is take good care of the radiator. Here are a couple of easy ways you can start with while your car is still relatively new:
- Always use radiator coolant (a coloured liquid you have to buy, does not fall from the sky)
- Choose the original coolant from factory or choose one with a rust inhibitor additive
- Inspect the radiator fan to see if the plastic blades are all still there, not broken off
- Check that the radiator fan (or fans) all spin and look like they are spinning fast enough.
- A tip from an old mechanic: change the radiator fan motor at 5 years, when your car is at half the lifespan, it will save you a lot of heartache for the next 5 years and probably keep your car good enough for COE renewal!
It may seem excessive to change a fan motor that is still working, but here’s why – an electric motor working in the demanding atmosphere of the engine bay will over time, lose their efficiency, spinning slower and slower till it stops 0ne day. But before it stops, as it gets slower over time, it is already causing your radiator and engine to work at gradually higher temperatures day after day, causing unwanted wear.
So the secret is out! Keep an eye on the radiator, for it is the protector of the heart of your car (the engine)!