Cooling systems (Part I)
The engine cooling system is a complex and invaluable part of the car and it is important to ensure that it is in a correct working order at all times to avoid a costly outcome. The mains parts of the cooling system are the radiator, engine coolant temperature sensor, cooling system hoses, expansion bottle, heater matrix, water pump, thermostat, antifreeze or coolant liquid and cooling fan.
Although gasoline engines have improved a lot, they are still not very efficient at turning chemical energy into mechanical power. Most of the energy in the gasoline (perhaps 70%) is converted into heat, and it is the job of the cooling system to take care of that heat. In fact, the cooling system on a car driving dissipates enough heat to heat two average-sized houses! The primary job of the cooling system is to keep the engine from overheating by transferring this heat to the air, but the cooling system also has several other important jobs.
The engine in your car runs best at a fairly high temperature. When the engine is cold, components wear out faster, and the engine is less efficient and emits more pollution. So another important job of the cooling system is to allow the engine to heat up as quickly as possible, and then to keep the engine at a constant temperature.
Inside your car’s engine, fuel is constantly burning. A lot of the heat from this combustion goes right out the exhaust system, but some of it soaks into the engine, heating it up. The engine runs best when its coolant is about 93 degrees Celsius. At this temperature, the combustion chamber is hot enough to completely vaporize the fuel, providing better combustion and reducing emissions and the oil used to lubricate the engine has a lower viscosity (it is thinner), so the engine parts move more freely and the engine wastes less power moving its own components around.
There are two types of cooling systems found on cars: liquid-cooled and air-cooled, although air-cooled is uncommon on modern cars.
The cooling system on liquid-cooled cars circulates a fluid through pipes and passageways in the engine. As this liquid passes through the hot engine it absorbs heat, cooling the engine. After the fluid leaves the engine, it passes through a heat exchanger, or radiator, which transfers the heat from the fluid to the air blowing through the exchanger.
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