Tech Tip: Engine Coolant Systems

How to Avoid Cooling System Problems

Land Rovers Series, Range Rovers, Discovery's and Defenders were constructed with massive, strong cooling systems. As our vehicles age, it becomes more important to take some basic steps to protect your cooling system.

Basic maintenance of your cooling system begins with checking the level and condition of your antifreeze. The former is easy; peer into the radiator (use caution if it's hot!) or the overflow tank. The latter requires a coolant condition meter, available inexpensively at auto parts stores. Most people check their coolant level weekly, but always check it before going off-road. Test the condition of your coolant at least every winter. There is, however, more that should be done. Most auto manufacturers recommend regular coolant changes; Range Rovers suggest a change every two years. The reason for this is that in service antifreeze will deteriorate. The anti-corrosion additives get used up and the pH (acid-base) value will drop to acidic levels. As you can imagine, too much acid will slowly eat away at your cooling system. This will cause metal from the system to move around and drop as sediment. In turn, the sediment inhibits cooling. This results from the sediment sitting around the radiator base and blocking the flow of coolant.

Other contaminants can come from the water that you use with your antifreeze. Most tap water has a trace mineral content. Depending on the source of your water, you may or may not have minerals that will become sediment and block your system. The safest way to refill your system is to use distilled water. This should be a 50/50 mixture with coolant for the best heat transfer. A mixture greater than 60% antifreeze actually cools less effectively. Any time you service a cooling system you should carefully examine your hoses and belts. Sometimes cooling system problems are nothing more than antifreeze seeping out of weak hoses, or a loose alternator/generator belt that's not turning the fan fast enough. A simple inspection of your hoses could save you alot of trouble on the highway or off-road. To check your hoses, look for cracks at the end of the hose. Hoses that feel very hard in spots, or alternately, very soft, spell trouble. While you're looking behind the radiator, check the corner welds of the radiator for corrosion or leakage.

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