As the holiday season approaches and thousands more vehicles take to the roads, leading automotive electronics designer and manufacturer REDARC warns of the dangers of damage to your vehicle’s radiator.
REDARC Managing Director Anthony Kittel says that a major cause of engine failure is that coolant loss in vehicles often goes undetected.
"The radiator is an integral part of the engine’s cooling system," Mr Kittel explains. "It's designed to protect an engine from the destructive forces of excessive heat. The radiator's function is to lower the temperature of hot coolant coming from the engine by cooling air that passes through the radiator.
"Most engine temperature gauges and protection systems will not detect loss of coolant fluid. This is because the gauges and temperature switches rely on sensing the coolant temperature and when there is no coolant, the gauges cannot sense the temperature.
"Some engines have the water pump mounted so high that even a little coolant loss can result in the pump running dry, which causes major damage to the engine. The easy answer is a Low Coolant Alarm, yet very few manufacturers fit these to engines as standard equipment," Mr Kittel says.
What you can do to avoid coolant loss
The radiator can lose fluid due to a worn hose, impact with an object, a crack in the top plastic header tank, a faulty seal or simply because the radiator cap wasn't replaced properly.
- Keep hoses in good condition: Hoses provide a flexible connection for coolant flow between the engine and the radiator, and the engine and the heating block. When a heater or radiator hose splits, the coolant is lost in a matter of seconds. The temperature gauge reading drops and subsequently the engine overheats.
- Avoid kerbs and fire hydrants: The radiator core can be damaged by hitting something (parking kerb, road debris, an animal), leading to stress fractures in the radiator and loss of coolant. In this scenario, the vehicle owner is at risk of significant repair costs because the coolant loss will prevent the temperature gauge from working correctly. Once the vehicle is parked following the damage, the coolant will seep out on to the driveway. When the vehicle is next driven, and before the owner is aware of a critical situation, the engine may suffer a cracked cylinder head.
- Check the water pump: A vehicle’s water pump is the heart of its cooling system. If the water pump fails in your vehicle it will run hot, overheat and cease to function. When they fail, the seals on most water pumps will weep a little bit of coolant when the engine is running. When the engine is switched off for the night, the coolant steadily leaks out of the vehicle’s radiator as the system is no longer under pressure. Next morning, when the engine is started and the vehicle is driven away, the temperature gauge will not read correctly due to the absence of coolant and the vehicle will sustain a cracked cylinder head.
- Ensure the radiator cap is sealed: If the radiator cap is not sealed properly it can stop the system drawing coolant back from the overflow reservoir and can lead to boiling of the coolant under severe operating conditions, and subsequent coolant loss.
- Install a Low Coolant Alarm: A Low Coolant Alarm will provide an early warning that a vehicle has low coolant levels. It is a cheap insurance against the significant costs that can arise from an engine overheating. REDARC has responded to many requests from customers with the release of the Redarc Low Coolant Alarm, part number LCA1224. This product suits a wide variety of applications including passenger vehicles, 4WD vehicles, trucks, buses, motorhomes, generators, forklifts, tractors and earthmoving equipment.
Smart Features: the REDARC Low Coolant Alarm
The REDARC Low Coolant Alarm has a number of smart features including an anti-slosh delay. If the radiator is not quite full, the LED flashes after 0.5 seconds but the audible alarm will not turn on for 3-4 seconds... therefore you will have a visual reminder to top up without an annoying alarm.
The alarm can be used in a 12V or 24V automotive system or a remote water pumping system to monitor radiator coolant level. It will provide both a visual and, in this case, an audible alarm if the coolant falls below the chosen level or if the pump loses priming.
The REDARC Low Coolant Alarm has a self-test process on ignition turn on. The LED flashes twice and the audible alarm will emit four short bursts. The unit is also designed with broken wire detection. If the wire to the probe is broken it will sound the alarm and operate the buzzer.
Another important design feature of this product is the AC sensing. The probe is supplied with AC; therefore, it doesn’t produce electrolysis that causes corrosion. Chemical corrosion can often be a cause of premature radiator failure.
The alarm also has an external warning lamp output. It allows a dashboard lamp to be used when the product (LCA1224) is not visible to the driver or to operate a relay to provide an alarm for a remote engine/pump. The product is supplied with a coolant level probe along with a threaded brass boss for use when installing the unit in a metal tank. (Pics available on request.)
Designed and manufactured in South Australia, the REDARC Low Coolant Alarm comes with a two year warranty and can be sourced through your local Auto Electrician.
For further information please contact Dylan Pinkard, customer service technician, or any of the friendly team at REDARC on 08 8322 4848, [email protected] or visit www.redarc.com.au.
REDARC Electronics designs, develops, manufactures and supplies power management products for the global trucking, automotive and recreational markets. REDARC products are also supplied to the mining, defence, communication, industrial, marine and alternative energy markets.
REDARC Electronics is a privately owned company incorporated in South Australia. REDARC has over 30 years' experience in the research, design, development and manufacturing of a range of electronic voltage converters and associated products, inverters, power supplies, battery chargers, turbo timers, glow plug timers and trailer braking products.
Dylan Pinkard, Marketing Coordinator
P: 08 8322 4848