Fall Tune-Up/Winterizing Pt. I

9 10 2012

It’s heading into that time of year again… time to bust out the sweatshirts and pants, stow the suntan lotion, and get ready for candy corn and haunted hayrides.

And, it’s also time to start thinking about a fall tune-up and possibly winterizing your vehicle.

“But a tune-up means someone will have to rebuild my engine… and winterizing’s something you do if you’re not going to be using it. I don’t want to do that!”

In reality, not only do tune-ups not usually require any serious engine-related work and winterizing checks and changes out any fluids or parts needing to be replaced, they also can save you time and money in the long run.

Let’s take a look at some of the steps involved!

Pt. I – Thermostat Check

No matter what you drive, chances are it has an engine involving a radiator system. Its basic job is to keep your engine from overheating during normal operation.

But the mystery is how this happens – the idea of a continuously operating system poses a conundrum: if the engine is always cooled, how can it ever become warm enough to operate efficiently? And what about if the system never runs… what prevents the engine from overheating, seizing up, and becoming inoperable?

That is where the thermostat comes into play.

Its basic job is to sit on top of the radiator hose leading into the engine and regulate the temperature of the engine. Most modern engines run efficiently around 195 degrees Fahrenheit; and a properly functioning thermostat ensures this temperature can be reached and not overly exceeded by controlling the flow of coolant to the engine.

Too little warmth, the valve remains closed. Too much heat and the valve is completely opened. At normal operating temperature, the valve is slowly moving to the opening or closing positions.

Around this time of year, the change in weather starts putting a little extra strain into this system – not so much that the system will always need repair or replacing, but just enough to cause extra potential wear.

Coupled with any extremely warm weather events over the summer putting stress on your vehicle, your thermostat would be a wise thing to have checked by a trained technician – if it were to fail while driving, you could potentially end up stuck.

But this isn’t the only part of your cooling system to have checked… (to be continued)