Why An Engine Cooling System Fails And How To Prevent It

Let me take you through a short story…

You are on a ride with your best buddies on a Sunday afternoon to a theatre nearby to watch the latest release. 

But you recognize something is wrong with your car. Meanwhile, your dashboard temperature gauge slides to the red part of the indicator and the check engine light pops up. All of a sudden white gusty smoke starts flooding through the hood underneath and then…


You obviously pull over and then you realize that it is an engine cooling system failure. 

There goes your afternoon movie plan!


Did you just visualize the scene ?

I hope not, because it’s exhausting. And the funniest part is the name of the movie was ‘Bad Trip’.

Now you have no other choice but to visit the local technician or repair center. As you can see, this is something you want to prevent from happening so you don’t end up on the side of the road.

To prevent your car from having  a cooling system failure, you must know how it works.

Coolant is also known as antifreeze, which was introduced to prevent the engine water from freezing while it protects the engine with the help of lubricants.

Malfunctioning of the coolant system can cause severe and long-lasting damage to your car engine if not taken care of in time.

Unfortunately, your car cooling system can’t resist this type of issue. This is why it is extremely crucial to have a good and working cooling system when you are on road. 

Failing to understand the signs of a cooling system problem too late can often cause permanent damage. 

Every car owner should have an idea of the signs that could help them save their car from an unnecessary failure or a long repair bill.

Let’s find out the reasons behind ‘how an engine cooling system fails and how we can prevent it from happening?’.

Why does the engine cooling system fail ? 

There are many reasons why an engine cooling system can fail, but here are some of the most common reasons. Learn how to spot issues in the cooling system before they become major problems by reading through the solutions mentioned for each problem.

Here are the 4 most common problems… 

Water Pump Failure

Your engine can’t rely solely on air flow to stay cool, so it uses liquid cooling. Water flows through a series of hoses to lower down the heat. And the water circulates with the help of a device called a water pump. 

The water pump is generally run by a pulley that is turned by a serpentine belt. So, if the pump fails to run, the water flow stops through your car engine, making the engine heat up rapidly.

Prevention: Never keep your water pump dry! Dry running – even for a few seconds – might weaken the seal, causing coolant leaking.

Solution: A new water pump should never be examined for free rotation when it is dry. It should be installed in a coolant-filled reservoir before starting the engine. AutoZone is in nearly every city and you can buy a brand new water pump from them.

Radiator Hoses Leak

Water flowing through a series of hoses could have a leak. It stops the water flow, eventually draining out all the water which can also cause your engine to overheat quickly. 

Prevention: Radiator hoses are more likely to leak as they age. You need to make sure that you change them periodically to avoid leaks and overheating. Also check hoses and the clamps holding it, as they can loosen or develop rust over time – causing damage.

Solution: Replace the clamps, and if necessary, the hoses to eliminate coolant leak. Don’t forget to change the coolant according to the radiator maintenance plan.

Thermostat Failure

Your vehicle’s thermostat plays a crucial role in the cooling system. The thermostat helps regulate the engine temperature and controls the amount of coolant flowing through the radiator. A failed thermostat will resist to open, increasing heat dissipation leading to overheating of your engine and resulting in faster failure.

Prevention: Thermostat valves can stop working sometimes so they will not fully close. If the thermostat breaks, coolant overflow to the radiator will over-cool the engine resulting in a chaos and a thick expense.

Solution: While changing the coolant you need to be careful, both for traditional and map-controlled thermostats. If you don’t take care while a coolant refills it may lead to an air leakage into the cooling system damaging your engine.

Radiator Cap

The radiator cap helps control the pressure of the system and also serves as a pressure relief valve. A failed cap can lead to overheating and coolant loss, resulting in permanent engine damage.

Prevention: Keep a routine check of the radiator cap during maintenance. Don’t take off the cap while the engine is on. Place a piece of cloth over it and remove it. And most importantly turn the cap counterclockwise about ¼- turn unless it touches the safety meter.

Keeping your car safe on the road

Buying a car is somewhat easier than maintaining a car periodically – but it’s definitely more expensive than basic routine maintenance. We often forget to take care of our car’s health. Performing routine checks can prevent your car from breaking down on the side of the road, saving a lot of money and time on repairs.