With the hottest months of the year slowly creeping up on us, is your engine set to take a beating from the heat? As important as air conditioning is to keeping us cool in our cabs and bunks, so too is the importance of a properly maintained cooling system in your engine. There is nothing more un-nerving than that all-too familiar smell of leaking coolant on a hot day, or a cool day one for that matter!
Always one to look out for my fellow drivers out there, I helped someone at a receiver recently catch a weeping coolant hose before it became a much bigger problem. Knowing that coolant smell well, I was able to catch a whiff of it while his fan kicked on during idling and asked if he knew of a leak in his engine? He replied that he was not aware of a leak and I proceeded to converse with him over the importance of catching problems like this before they end up leaving him stranded, all while tracking down a weeping coolant hose for him. He thanked me and informed me that he was new to truck driving and appreciated my helping him out.
On top of catching leaks early, using the proper coolant is just as important. In most cooling systems, exact specifications have been engineered into the coolant itself to do much more than just cool the engine and protect against freezing. There are optimum levels of pH acidity, anti-corrosion, anti-freezing and cooling chemicals built into all brands of coolants. Every manufacturer has certain standards that a useable coolant must adhere to before it can be used. These can be located on the jug of the coolant themselves to match to the “fluid standards” section of your truck’s owners manual.
These exact mixtures far surpass the cooling and anti-freeze power of plain water alone, as water tends to boil, freeze, evaporate, and corrode under an engine’s extreme operating conditions. Adding water to specifically designed coolants that are already at these desired levels (ELC’s and EG’s alike) will not only dilute their cooling properties (lessening their efficiency), but will also add other chemicals to the mix that can hurt your engine and cooling system as well. Remember, the chemicals present in the water you may use do not magically disappear once mixed in with coolant and can lead to premature corrosion and build up from inside! As a matter of fact, the evaporation tendencies of water will make them more concentrated as boil-off occurs. Various harmful elements exist in tap water including salt, calcium and chlorine to name a few. None of which you would want building up in your cooling system.
With the heat approaching fast, be sure to check for leaks, maintain proper fill levels, and maintain a proper chemical balance in your cooling system. Having your coolant tested is fairly inexpensive and can usually be done when your truck is in for an oil change or other basic PM service, or you can even purchase a batch of test strips (like the Baldwin Fleetstrips pictured here) and do it yourself from time to time. This can help insure that you have the proper balance of chemicals and proper pH acidity for optimum performance. When so much is riding on your engine staying cool, why take a chance!