And Signs They’re Going Bad

Did you know that more than any other mechanical system in your car, cooling systems fail the most often. Why? Well, partly because there’s a lot that makes up a cooling system. But mostly because we forget about them.

It may not seem like Minnesota car owners need to worry about their engines overheating very often but – despite the chilly weather we get – it’s one of the most important systems in your car to maintain.

When most folks think about a car’s cooling system, their minds immediately go to the actual “coolant,” better known as antifreeze. But there’s so much more that goes into it.

Major Parts of a Cooling System

  • Water Pump
  • Thermostat
  • Cooling Fans
  • Radiator
  • Freeze Plugs

That’s a lot of parts meant to keep your car cool, but when you know that an average car engine runs at 212 degrees Fahrenheit and the gas it produces can be as hot as 4,500 degrees, you can understand the important role the cooling system plays!

Keeping Track of Your Cooling System

You don’t need to be an expert to make sure you are taking care of your cooling system. We’ll break down some of the major parts and tell you how to maintain them so you avoid overheating your engine.

Water Pump

Your car’s water pump is designed to take the antifreeze and move it around the interior of your engine to absorb heat. After time, this piece can wear out. Your water pump is driven by a belt that can also experience wear and tear. It’s a good idea to replace these two things together, as a bad belt can vastly shorten the life of a new water pump, and a leaky water pump can quickly destroy a new belt.

Signs It’s Going Bad: One less obvious sign is a puddle of antifreeze underneath your car’s engine. This can be difficult to tell in both the summer when your AC puddles and the winter with ice and snow puddles. A sign that is easier to notice (but may not necessarily mean it is the water pump) is your engine temperature gauge showing high temperatures.

Freeze Plug

Within your engine is a little plug that fits right into the engine block. This little plug has a big job: Save your entire engine. Even though coolant is called antifreeze, the truth is that in very cold temperatures like we get here in Minnesota, the liquid can actually freeze. This freezing liquid has enough power to crack the engine block. But the freeze plug is expandable so if the liquid freezes, it takes all its pressure out on the plug and pops it up – instead of popping your engine block apart.

Signs It’s Going Bad: Leaking coolant is a sure indicator that you have a rotting freeze plug.


In the upper Midwest, temperatures can fluctuate quickly. With all the changes, you need a thermostat to help the system adapt to varying conditions. This tells your car how much coolant should go through your engine.

Signs It’s Going Bad: When the temperature gauge starts to go bad, you’ll notice your car beings to overheat pretty quickly after starting the engine. Or you may notice the gauge on your dashboard is reading lower than it’s normal temperature.


When coolant runs through your hot car, eventually it too gets hot. That’s where the radiator comes in. The hot liquid runs through the radiator’s cooling fins and it bring it back down to normal temperatures so it can once again work its way through the car.

Signs It’s Going Bad: While overheating and leaking coolant can be signs, a sure way to know is if your coolant is no longer the proper color. It should be yellow or green, but it will look rusty or look like oil if the radiator needs to be fixed. You may also find that your Kennedy specialist is constantly filling up the coolant. This may indicate there’s a link.

Contact Your Expert Kennedy Technician

It’s helpful to see the signs of problems under the hood of your car, but if it all looks like hunks of metal to you, that’s okay!

Your expert Kennedy Technician is trained to find the problem and fix it the right way. Following your vehicle’s scheduled maintenance suggestions are a sure way to ensure you find problems before they become an expensive issue.

If you’re concerned about your coolant system, give us a call at 1.877.473.3322 or stop by your nearest location to schedule your free estimate today!

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