Everything You Should Know about Car’s Coolant Reservoir
The coolant reservoir is a plastic reservoir, mounted in the engine bay for storing the coolant required by the engine. A coolant reservoir is necessary because every vehicle’s engine goes through cycles of expelling and absorbing the coolant as it cools down its heated body.
This means that when the engine is cold, there is a low level of pressure of the cooling system, requiring more coolant. Whereas, when the engine warms up, the pressure of the cooling system increases, requiring a lesser amount of coolant.
In other words, a coolant reservoir provides a temporary refuge for the coolant liquid when it expands as a result of heat in the engine. Therefore, when the engine cools down, the heat is dispelled from the coolant, slipping out of the plastic reservoir tank and into the radiator.
WHERE IS THE COOLANT RESERVOIRS LOCATED IN MY CAR?
Made up of durable plastic, coolant reservoirs are usually located on the upper right-hand side of the engine compartment that you can check in your vehicle. Since the coolant helps in the entire cooling function of the engine, a functioning reservoir is crucial to avoid trouble. Here are the symptoms that indicate an issue with the coolant reservoir.
SYMPTOMS OF A BAD (FAILING) COOLANT RESERVOIR
Given their material, location and design, coolant reservoirs are susceptible to a lot of wear and tear. They end up developing cracks and leaks, causing the engine to remain heated and ultimately leading to a replacement. Besides, you must know how to identify the fluid by colour, so before you go for reservoir replacement you are sure that the leak from your car is actually a coolant leak.
However, before you go ahead to make a replacement, it is worth your money and time to be aware of how to catch signs of problematic symptoms.
1. LEAKED POOL UNDER THE CAR
The most common sign of a bad coolant reservoir is a pool of coloured water beneath your car, or more specifically, the passenger’s seat. We are not specifying the colour here, because there are different car coolant colours that serve different purposes. Also, if you find the coolant reservoir empty after filling the tank then this could be due to a leak. The leak is a result of either a loose coolant line, a damaged reservoir cap or a crack in the reservoir itself. Besides, cracked engine cylinder heads could be one of the reasons behind the coolant leak, other than the damaged tank.
Your first instinct should be to check for signs of leaks in the tank and the lines coming from the coolant reservoir. If you find it a bit too technical for your taste, seek professional help.
2. COOLANT RESERVOIR TANK OVERFILLED
Many motorists ask is it bad to overfill coolant reservoir? Well, while an empty coolant reservoir is a red alert, so is the overfilling of the tank. For those who didn’t know, every coolant reservoir comes with two marks; one indicating the level of the coolant that must be met when the engine is hot, and the other indicating the level when the engine is cold.
In case the coolant reservoir tank is overfilled, the excess will go out into the overflow hose. Though this is not a fatal issue for the vehicle, it is certainly lethal to the environment.
Moreover, a serious, untreated overflow can pose the following problems:
- It can blow the reservoir cap. It is because when the coolant overflows, there is a build-up of pressure inside the cooling system. When the engine is hot, the heated coolant finds no room to expand due to the already full reservoir, putting pressure on the tank as a result. The cap pops out ultimately, causing the hot coolant to spew out like lava from the volcano.
- It can also break the electrical system because the internal wires get doused in the coolant. When the reservoir overflows, the liquid seeps through the wiring under the hood and causes an electrical failure, which is catastrophic for the vehicle and a deep dent in your pocket. This can prevent your vehicle from functioning, including refusing to start, switching on the headlights, brake lights, battery, radio, and more.
WHITE SMOKE FROM CAR EXHAUST
One of the symptoms of a damaged coolant reservoir is when white smoke is coming out from car exhaust excessively. A damaged tank may also contaminate the oil, but the chances are very low.
Although this is a rare event because the wires are usually insulated and overflow has to be massive to reach the exposed wires, you can never know when it would happen. Therefore, if you wish to buy a used car in the UAE, make sure to get the coolant reservoir and its components checked by a professional technician, before finalising the deal.
WHAT HAPPENS IF OIL ENTERS THE COOLANT RESERVOIR?
If you open the coolant reservoir and find motor oil mixed in it, then it’s not a good sign and may damage major components of the vehicle.
To better understand the gravity of this problem, know that the head gasket keeps the engine fluid away from the combustion parts. But when the head gasket fails to function properly, it allows oil to get mixed into the coolant or vice versa. Fixing the head gasket is critical to your vehicle but requires taking apart much of the engine, so you know you have a lengthy mechanical problem at hand.
Moreover, other sources of oil can get into the coolant reservoir which also creates the same destruction. It can be cracks in the cylinder head or the engine block, requiring difficult and expensive repairs.
We know that oil is cooled by the cooling system in most vehicles. A faulty oil-coolant heat exchanger, therefore, can lead to the oil dripping into the coolant reservoir. Although this repair is less expensive it requires immediate attention because leaking oil can potentially cripple your vehicle’s engine.
The coolant reservoir is a small little tank but it is one of the most important parts of the car’s cooling system that can cause severe damages if not maintained properly. Given the location and material of the coolant tank, it easily gets damaged or cracked. In such a scenario, you can replace the coolant reservoir, but before proceeding, buy the right auto parts and accessories as well as tools required for replacement.
Stay tuned to UAE’s top auto blog for more information related to various vehicle parts and their repair guides.