Coolant/Antifreeze Service At West Service Center, Inc.

Anyone that drives a car in Chesapeake knows that engines get hot when they run. But did you know that engines need to be cooled to keep running? Heat inside an engine can cause the metal parts to expand, which can seize up an engine and make it stop running. It can even ruin the entire engine! Good car care requires keeping your van cooling system in good condition.

A vehicle’s cooling system circulates water and antifreeze (coolant) through the engine where it absorbs heat. It then flows to the radiator where the water and antifreeze are cooled by the air that flows over the radiator. Then it circulates back into the van’s engine to absorb more heat.

Why shouldn’t Norfolk motorists just use water? Because water boils at temperatures that are often reached inside of an engine. Steam won’t cool your van engine and is hard to contain within the cooling system. The antifreeze keeps the water from boiling.

So why do we call it antifreeze? Shouldn’t it be antiboil? Truth is, the antifreeze performs another critical task. Water freezes in cold Virginia weather. That would spell disaster for your van’s engine. So antifreeze also keeps the water in your cooling system from freezing in all but the most extreme cold. Pretty neat stuff!

Taking care of your cooling system is part of good preventive maintenance for your van. Chesapeake drivers should check coolant level often and regularly inspect your cooling system for leaks.

That is just good auto advice. Your van’s manufacturer has maintenance requirements for draining and replacing engine coolant. Consult your owner’s manual or ask your honest West Service Center, Inc. technician for these recommendations, as they vary widely from among auto manufacturers.

Changing your coolant is also part of good preventive maintenance. Water is great at collecting all kinds of dissolved substances, especially when it’s hot. Water circulating through an engine picks up dirt, debris, pollutants, and other stuff. It actually becomes corrosive over time. This can damage engine parts and your radiator.

Replacing your coolant regularly keeps the van cooling system functioning well and doesn’t allow it to sneakily become the cancer that wipes out your engine.

But don’t just slop any antifreeze into your vehicle. Check your owner’s manual or ask your West Service Center, Inc. service advisor if you don’t know what is the right type of antifreeze for your vehicle. Using the wrong kind can void the warranty on your van cooling system.

You may have noticed that different types of antifreeze are different colors. Manufacturers tint them different colors to make them harder to mix up. It’s easy to notice that you have purple fluid when you normally use green! That way, you have less chance of damaging your van engine by using the wrong antifreeze.

One last word of warning — a little outside the area of car care. Never, ever let anyone or pets drink coolant/antifreeze – it is deathly poisonous.

Take care of your car, and take care of yourself! Just some good car care tips from West Service Center, Inc. to keep you on the road and help your life in Chesapeake run more pleasantly.

Cool Running In Chesapeake

Unless you live in Death Valley, you really don’t hear much any more about cars overheating. That’s because cooling systems in vehicles have been much improved. That doesn’t mean you can’t overheat your van engine, though. Without proper preventive maintenance, you could still find yourself on the side of the expressway in Chesapeake waiting for your van engine to cool down.

When you service your cooling system at West Service Center, Inc., your technician will check the condition of the coolant. It can become corrosive over time, which can damage a radiator — leading to an overheated engine. Changing the coolant periodically is good car care. Your van owner’s manual can give you guidelines on how often to replace it.

If your engine overheated, your honest tech will also check your coolant system for leaks. Check the van radiator for cracks and the radiator hoses for leaks. He’ll also check your water pump. They don’t need to be replaced on a regular schedule, but they do need an inspection regularly. They can and do wear out.

The water pump is a critical component of your van cooling system. It pumps the coolant to keep it circulating through the engine. The coolant is cooled in the radiator, then it travels through the engine, where it absorbs heat, then it returns to the radiator, where it releases the heat. And so on. But a water pump is something of a misnomer. The fluid pumped through your van cooling system is not just water. It also contains coolant, which is actually poisonous. You should never consider your radiator as an emergency water supply.

There are many types of coolant. It varies from vehicle to vehicle, and using the wrong kind could damage your engine. Your service professional will know which kind your vehicle’s manufacturer recommends. The team of automotive professionals at West Service Center, Inc. is always a good source for auto advice. We’ve been providing quality automotive services at our convenient location in Chesapeake for 25 years.

Keeping your cooling system in good repair will help keep your engine running well, and keep you out of the Chesapeake repair shop. This means that a regular cooling system inspection should be on your schedule for routine preventive maintenance of your vehicle. Your owner’s manual will tell you how often you need to do this. It varies depending on what kind of car you drive, what type of driving you do and where you live in Virginia.

At West Service Center, Inc., we help you keep your cool which will keep you in the driving lane.

Water Pump

Your cooling system is very important. It circulates coolant through the radiator and your engine to protect your car from overheating. There are five main components to the cooling system:

  • the radiator
  • the radiator cap
  • the hoses
  • the thermostat and
  • the water pump

The cooling system is essential for Chesapeake drivers. It circulates coolant through the radiator and your engine to protect your van from overheating. There are five main components to the cooling system:

the radiator
the radiator cap
the hoses
the thermostat and
the water pump

The water pump’s like the heart of your cooling system, circulating the fluid throughout your van. It’s a small pump that’s driven by the engine; usually by belt, but sometimes by a chain or gear.

The water pump only operates when the engine’s running. Water pump failure is pretty routine. We see it often at West Service Center, Inc.. Some start failing at around 40,000 miles, but most fail by 100,000 miles. Consult your car maker’s owners’ manual or honest West Service Center, Inc. service advisor to see what’s recommended.

Since a water pump either works or it doesn’t, you need to change it when it fails. Water pumps fail in one of two ways: the bearings fail or they begin to leak. It’s possible to have a leak from a cracked water pump, but it usually leaks at the gasket where it attaches to the engine.

So how can Chesapeake drivers tell when the water pump is failing? If you can hear a low-pitched grinding sound coming from the water pump – it’s got a problem. If you can see coolant in that area, you’ve got a leak.

Some water pumps are driven off the timing belt. They might be under a plastic cover so you can’t see the water pump. Look for coolant on the driveway. If you see some, have your West Service Center, Inc. service professional check it out.

Most timing belts need to be changed at 60,000 miles – some longer. It’s a good idea to change your water pump at the same time if it’s one of those that’s driven off the timing belt. To start with, 90% of the work’s already done with the timing belt change. And, if you don’t, and develop a leak later, you’ll have to change the belt again along with the water pump because the belt will have been contaminated by the leaking coolant.

Chesapeake motorists can replace a failed water pump with a brand spankin’ new one or with a rebuilt pump. Rebuilt will save you some cash, but ask your honest West Service Center, Inc. service advisor what he thinks. Don’t feel too bad if your water pump gives out. They will all wear out eventually. Your West Service Center, Inc. service professional can get you back on the road and on with your life.

Cooling System Components


Today we want to talk about a key system in our cars – the cooling system. It’s one of those things that Chesapeake car owners don’t give much thought to until it fails and then they’re stranded by the side of a road in Chesapeake.

Cooling systems fail more often than any other mechanical system – usually because of neglect. Don’t you hate it when something breaks, and you could have done something to prevent it?

The good news is that if Chesapeake drivers take care of their cooling systems they can keep working for the life of their car.

Here at AutoNetTV and West Service Center, Inc. in Chesapeake, we emphasize essential preventive maintenance services like replacing your coolant according to the factory schedule. But the various parts that make up the cooling system need attention too. The major components of the cooling system are the water pump, freeze plugs, the thermostat, the radiator, cooling fans, the heater core, the pressure cap, the overflow tank and the hoses.

It sounds complicated, but we Chesapeake car owners don’t have to be experts – we can leave that to our honest service advisor at West Service Center, Inc.. But, having an overview will help us remember how to take care of your car’s cooling system.

Most Chesapeake folks would be surprised to know that burning fuel in your engine produces up to 4,500 degrees of heat. And all that heat has to be dealt with. If the heat can’t be drawn off the engine, the pistons will literally weld themselves to the inside of the cylinders – then you just have to throw the engine away and get a new one. That would cost thousands of dollars.

Now the water pump is what forces the coolant through passages in the van engine to absorb heat. The pump is driven by a belt that needs replacement from time to time. And the water pump will eventually wear out and need to be replaced. Spending some cash on replacing the belts and water pump is much less than the cost of repairing the extremely pricey damage that can be done when an engine seizes.

There’s another little but essential part of the coolant system that protects the engine. It’s called a freeze plug. If you remember from high school chemistry, water expands when it freezes. In very cold areas, the coolant can actually freeze when the van is left sitting.

It is hard to believe, but the expanding frozen coolant is vigorous enough to actually crack the engine block. The freeze plugs fit into the engine block. They fit tight enough to withstand the pressure of a running engine, but can expand or pop out if the coolant freezes. These little things save a lot of engine blocks.

That brings up a good point. An engine has to work in all kinds of Virginia temperatures – extremely hot as well as very cold. How does the van cooling system adapt to external temperatures as well as varying operating conditions?

Well, it’s much like the way you keep your Chesapeake house at a comfortable temperature all year round – with a thermostat. The thermostat in your van controls how much coolant flows through your engine. When the engine is cold, it restricts coolant flow until the engine comes up to an efficient operating temperature. Then it starts opening up to move more coolant to keep the temperature within a specified range.

The thermostat needs to be replaced from time to time as well. It’s easy for your West Service Center, Inc. service professional to diagnose a failed thermostat and is fairly inexpensive to replace. We can do this for you at West Service Center, Inc. in Chesapeake, just give us a call: 757-487-4420. Now we’ve been talking about all this heat we’ve got to get rid of, but haven’t really talked about where it goes. That’s where the radiator comes in. The hot coolant passes through the radiator. Air flows past the cooling fins and cools the coolant.

The radiator has two tanks that hold coolant: sometimes one at the top and bottom or one on either side. If you have an automatic transmission in your van, one of the tanks will also contain a second tank that cools the transmission fluid. Large SUV’s and trucks often have a separate transmission cooler. So when Chesapeake car owners drive around Chesapeake, the air is forced past the radiator. But driving doesn’t produce enough air flow. So the radiator has cooling fans that force fresh air over the radiator. These fans may be powered by a belt or by electric motors.

Chesapeake drivers also have something called a heater core. The heater core is like a mini radiator. A small fan blows air over the heater core and into the passenger compartment of your van. That’s how Chesapeake motorists warm their cars when it’s cold out in Virginia.

Next is the radiator cap. With most newer cars around Chesapeake, you never remove the radiator cap, except to replace it. You add coolant through the overflow tank. The radiator cap is also called a pressure cap, because its critical job is to maintain pressure in the cooling system.

High pressure raises the boiling point of the coolant, so it cools more effectively even in very demanding Chesapeake conditions. That is why Chesapeake motorists need to replace the cap from time to time. The team at West Service Center, Inc. recommends changing it out every time you replace your coolant.

Coming back to the overflow tank, it is key because when the coolant gets hot it expands and the overflow holds the extra volume. The tank helps maintain the proper level of coolant and keeps air out of the system. Chesapeake car owners should never open the radiator cap or over flow tank when the engine is hot. This could lead to serious burns.

What else do we Chesapeake motorists need to do to keep our cooling systems working well? Well, there are the hoses that hook all of these pieces together. They’re obviously very tough to deal with the pressure and high temperatures. But they do get worn. Sometimes they get spongy from the heat. Sometimes they lose their connection to the radiator, water pump, etc. It’s a great idea to have your Chesapeake service center or honest West Service Center, Inc. service professional inspect your hoses at least once a year and replace them, if needed, before they break.

The team at West Service Center, Inc. can check your cooling system and make any necessary adjustments or repairs. Give us a call at 757-487-4420.

West Service Center, Inc.
904 Cavalier Blvd
Chesapeake, Virginia 23323
757-487-4420

Smart Chesapeake Drivers Protect Against Overheating

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Engines get hot when they run. This heat can build up and damage vital engine parts, so engines need a cooling system to keep them running. Cooling system failure is the most common mechanical failure in vehicles. This is unfortunate, because these failures are usually easy for Chesapeake drivers to prevent.

The radiator is the best-known and most recognizable part of the cooling system. Hoses filled with coolant (also known as antifreeze) connect the radiator to the engine. The coolant draws heat from the engine, and then flows to the radiator. Air passing through cooling fins on the radiator cools the coolant. The coolant then cycles back into the engine to start the process over again.

The most critical component of the cooling system, however, is the coolant itself. A mixture of water and coolant/antifreeze helps keep it both from freezing and from boiling away. Either can result in serious engine damage.

Different engines require different types of coolant/antifreeze. The owner’s manual will list what kind a vehicle requires. Using the wrong type or mixing different types of may void the warranty on the cooling system and may damage it as well.

Insufficient coolant can lead to engine failure. Coolant levels need to be checked regularly and topped off as necessary. If coolant levels drop quickly or consistently, the cooling system should be inspected for leaks. Coolant/antifreeze contains additives that protect the radiator and other coolant components from rust, scale and corrosion. Over time, these additives are depleted, so it is necessary for Chesapeake auto owners to replace coolant at specified intervals. Changing coolant should be part of routine preventive maintenance for any vehicle.

This service is often ignored, though, since old coolant still cools the engine. Vehicle owners don’t realize there is a problem until the system fails. They are left with major repairs and possibly a damaged engine, which could have been prevented with a cooling system service at West Service Center, Inc. in Chesapeake.

If your van sends a warning message to check its coolant or if the temperature gauge is reading in the red or hot zone, then the cooling system needs an inspection. This service is critical and should not be put off since the potential for damage is high.

In an emergency situation, water or antifreeze can be added to your van so that it can be driven to a service center for proper car care. For this reason, owner’s manual contains instructions for how to top off insufficient coolant – allow 45 minutes for the engine to cool before attempting to add coolant or water. However, the fluid should be added to the coolant overflow bottle, not to the radiator itself. Removing the radiator pressure cap can result in severe burns.

Topping off in an emergency, however, does not fix the problem. The vehicle should immediately be taken to your Chesapeake service center or West Service Center, Inc. where they can inspect the cooling system, repair any leaks, and clean it if necessary. They can identify what caused the emergency situation in the first place and ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Regular maintenance of a vehicle’s cooling system is just good auto advice for Chesapeake auto owners. Cooling system service is relatively inexpensive and doesn’t take long at West Service Center, Inc.. Lack of it, however, can put a vehicle in the scrap heap.

Talk to your West Service Center, Inc. tech for more information.