How Does Coolant Work in a Car?

As you drive down the road, your car's engine works hard to keep you moving forward. However, all that work generates a lot of heat, which can damage the engine if left unchecked. That's where the coolant comes in - a special liquid circulating through the engine to keep it from overheating. So, how does coolant work in a car? Let's break it down.

First, let's look at what coolant is made of. Typically, coolant is a mixture of water and ethylene glycol, a type of alcohol. This mixture is designed to have a lower freezing point and a higher boiling point than plain water, which makes it better suited for use in an engine.

Coolant is stored in a unique reservoir in the engine compartment and is pumped through a series of hoses and passages in the engine by a water pump. As the coolant circulates, it absorbs heat from the engine, which helps regulate its temperature.

Once the coolant has absorbed heat from the engine, it flows back to the radiator located at the front of the car. The radiator is a heat exchanger - as the hot coolant flows through it, it transfers heat to the surrounding air. This is why you'll often see fans mounted behind the radiator - they help to pull cool air through the radiator to aid in the heat exchange process.

After the coolant has been cooled down by the radiator, it flows back to the engine to repeat the process. In addition to its cooling properties, coolant also contains additives that help to prevent corrosion and rust from developing inside the engine.

It's important to keep your car's coolant level topped off and to replace the coolant at regular intervals (typically every two years). If the coolant level gets too low, or if the coolant becomes contaminated or degraded, your engine could overheat and suffer severe damage.

So, by circulating through the engine and absorbing heat, coolant helps to keep your car running smoothly and prevent engine damage. For maintenance you can trust in Ashland, Virginia and beyond; bring your vehicle to Ferber's Automotive and Body!

Automotive technician pouring coolant into a car.

Written by Ferber's Automotive & Body Shop