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April 2024 |

Complete guide of car cooling systems

Among those elements, the cooling system stands out as an essential pillar to keep the engine under proper temperature conditions. Therefore, when extreme heat -a silent enemy of efficiency and endurance- is generated, the cooling system places itself as a basic guardian against overheating and premature wearing. 

What is a cooling system for cars? 


The car cooling system is a complex network of components designed to control and dissipate heat generated by the engine during its operation. This system includes several elements such as the radiator, the water pump, the thermostat, the coolant and the radiator fan. They all work ensemble to regulate engine temperature and avoid overheating.

Its main function is to keep the engine into a safe and efficient operation temperature. The engine performance produces extremely high temperatures due to internal combustion and friction in its mobile components. The cooling system acts as heating-down system, dissipating the heat excess and keeping the motor within its the optimum range of temperature.

The Importance of a proper temperature cannot be underrated. An engine operating under extremely high temperature is at risk of serious damage: deformation of metal parts, fusion of vital components or even the engine’s total failure. Moreover, a motor working under extremely high temperatures can experiment incomplete fuel combustion which can decrease efficiency and increase polluting emissions.

The cooling system and the motor performance are directly interlinked. An engine keeping its optimal temperature can work more efficiently and provide a consistent power and a quick response. The engine lifespan is also linked to keeping proper temperature on. 

Main parts of the cooling system 


  •  Radiator

The radiator is one of the most visible and essential parts in the cooling system. It is at the car’s front just behind its grill. Its main function is dissipating engine-generated heat. This process is carried out by transferring heat from the coolant liquid to ambient air while it circulates through the radiator fins. Radiators are manufactured with different materials such as aluminum or copper and they can have multiple types including tube and fin radiators as well as aluminum core radiators.

  • Water pump

The water pump is a vital component which moves the antifreeze fluid through the engine’s cooling system. Its main role is to ensure the coolant’s constant and efficient circulation which helps to control the car temperature. While going through, the antifreeze fluid absorbs heat and takes it to the radiator for its dissipation. The water pump is crucial to avoid engine overheating since the coolant’s defective circulation may bring serious damages. 

  • Thermostat

The thermostat is a key component for engine temperature regulation by controlling the coolant flow. It is at the engine’s top and opens and closes a valve according to the coolant temperature. When the engine reaches its proper functioning temperature, the thermostat allows the coolant to freely circulate through the engine and radiator. However, if the temperature overpasses certain threshold, the thermostat will close up to keep heat in and increase engine temperature when starting up cold. This ensures an efficient operation of the cooling system and contributes to engine longevity.

How does the cooling system work in a car?


Now, we detail step by step, how the cooling system works:

1. Coolant circulation

The process starts with the coolant which is generally a mix of coolant and water stored in the radiator. When the engine starts up, the water pump starts gyrating pushing the fluid through a series of conducts and hoses towards the engine.

2. Heat transfer

Once the fluid gets to the engine, it circulates around the engine’s combustion chambers and other heat areas. While passing through these areas, the liquid absorbs both combustion-generated heat and the one resulted from other engine operations.

3. Liquid cooling

The hot coolant returns to the radiator where it cools down. The cooling happens by transferring heat from the coolant to the ambient air via the radiator fins. In the meantime, the fan directs the air through the radiator to speed up the cooling process.

4. Temperature regulation

Within this cycle, the thermostat plays a crucial role in engine temperature regulation. When the engine reaches a specific temperature, the thermostat opens up, allowing the coolant move freely through the engine and the radiator to keep an optimum temperature. If engine temperature increases over the desirable limit, the thermostat partially or completely closes to keep the heat in and then cool the engine down.

5. Continuous cycle

This circulation and cooling process goes over and over while the engine is on, assuring a stable and safe temperature. This ongoing coolant circulation and the heat transference are essential to avoid overheating and ensure its proper functioning over time.

Advantages of an efficient cooling system 


An efficient cooling system assures the safe engine functioning and offers tangible benefits regarding performance, efficiency and maintenance costs. Now, we are going to show you some of the advantages of having an efficient cooling system:

  • Higher engine performance and efficiency

This helps to keep the engine in the optimum working temperature which translates in a more consistent and efficient performance. When the engine operates under the proper temperature, its internal components work more efficiently which improves the vehicle’s power and response.

  • Reduction of emissions and fuel consumption

An engine operating at an optimum temperature produces less emissions and consumes less fuel. A cooling system contributes to keep the engine in such ideal conditions so there are less polluting-gas emissions and a higher efficiency in fuel consumption. This may positively affect both the environment and the driver’s budget.

  • Less wear on parts and lower maintenance costs 

An efficient cooling system helps to reduce premature overheat-induced wearing of engine parts. This means that critical engine parts such as pistons, cylinders and seals are less exposed to extreme temperature conditions which extends their lifespan and reduces the need of costly maintenance and repairs.

Specialized companies in cooling systems


Autoparts From Spain is an initiative promoted by SERNAUTO which aims to offer information on the main Spanish companies devoted to manufacture automotive components.

Along with our commitment to promote excellence in the automotive industry, we introduce to you some of the leading Spanish companies in manufacturing cooling systems and related products for vehicles:

  •  Airtex, leading company in manufacturing water pumps and fuel pumps, also specialized in lubrication and cooling, offers water pumps and gaskets.
  • Anglí Industrias, this company offers solutions in the field of electronic and electric components for the automotive sector. They offer products for lubrication and cooling including plugs for oil drain, oil, radiator, fuel and expansion tanks.
  • DOGA is a company with a 65-year run developing and producing automotive components and specialized also in lubrication and cooling for vehicles, it provides engine fans and expansion tanks.
  • OLIPES, expert brand in design and manufacturing of lubricating oil and greases, offers high quality products including coolants and lubricants for new electric motors and a white range of biodegradable lubricants.
  • Proquisur, the firm started its trajectory manufacturing products for engine maintenance such as coolants and antifreezes.

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