As we all know, temperatures are dropping and that often turns us into docile users of them where we simple turn it on, get the heat going and go. Nothing wrong against that, unless you want to run into costly repairs later. This weekend, I discovered a tip with respect to my car that I want to share with you.
Temperature is a relative thing. 115F is hot to us, but it’s below operating temperature for cars today. Most cars operate optimally at 190F to 220F – usually the middle line on your temperature gauge. When it drops to 50F, your car might actually enjoy the cooler ambient temperatures, but it can become more volatile.
Nevertheless, we’re creatures of habit and when it gets cold, we neglect to think about the fact the car is a machine that needs proper levels of fluids and care. I experienced this during this weekend.
So, I have this leak in my radiator hose. A subtle leak where I often leave about an ounce of fluid on the ground after I park. Well, an ounce here, an ounce there, and you see where this is going. I was a gallon short on my radiator fluid. I lost these drops here and there during the summer and it compounded into potentially a bigger problem.
Radiator fluid is necessary for your radiator to dispel heat through thermodynamics. And as heat builds, so does the pressure. The alcohols in it prevent boiling and loss of fluids. If you lose a lot of fluid, you run the risk of the engine overheating because the radiator isn’t able to do its job – cooling your engine.
One evening, I went out for a drive. It was about 60F outside. Not bad by any means, but after about 7 miles of driving, I observed the temperature gauge exceed the “normal” zone. More than my comfort, at least. This was unusual since I wasn’t racing my car and was very easy on it at this time and there was no reason why it should have been running hot.
I made my way to the nearest Wal-Mart, like anyone else does at 10:00 at night. Picked up a gallon of antifreeze. To my surprise, I was a gallon short of my optimal fluid level. Yikes! Any more, I could have been in some serious trouble.
The lesson here is that you should check your fluids at least seasonally because you never know when you might need to do some preventative maintenance. Cars really don’t care about temperature, unless you’re talking going up a 8% grade in Palm Springs.
That said, my car is running great and I saved myself from killing the LT1 in my Camaro. You can, too; check your fluids in your car – especially if you had a small leak earlier.