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IT'S MORE THAN JUST OIL. IT'S LIQUID ENGINEERING.

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  5. COOLING SYSTEM MAINTENANCE IS CRITICAL TO ENGINE RELIABILITY

COOLING SYSTEM MAINTENANCE IS CRITICAL TO ENGINE RELIABILITY

CASTROL LABCHECK / Post date: 1 December 2014

While oil analysis is an invaluable condition monitoring tool, it tells us very little about what’s happening inside the cooling system. Coolant analysis gives us the rest of the story by pinpointing coolant and cooling system issues that can lead to premature engine failure.


Almost everyone understands how important a properly maintained lubrication system is to optimum engine health. But what most people don’t understand is that engine coolant and the cooling system are just as important to engine design, maintenance and optimum performance.


How critical is it?

An estimated 50% of all engine failures are associated with problems in the cooling system. Once initiated, these problems can spread through the lubrication, hydraulic and transmission systems damaging components, causing scale, clogging passages and forming deposits. Yet, the cooling system is one of the least understood and most neglected.


Implementing a predictive maintenance program that includes analyzing the in-service coolant has proven to optimize reliability, reduce in-service failures and field repairs, increase component lifespan, and control equipment costs.


Why test extended life coolants?

Coolant analysis is recommended for both conventional and extended life coolants (ELC). Changes in in the composition of both conventional and extended life coolants can cause chemical reactions that can destroy metals and result in premature component failure and neither fluid formulation can correct the root cause of a mechanical problem.
 


Primary Goals of a Quality Coolant Analysis Program

Goal #1 – Preventive Maintenance

Regular coolant testing and analysis can determine if:

  • the coolant is suitable for continued use or needs to be replenished
  • coolant mixing has occurred
  • scale or acid-forming contaminants are present
  • additive depletion is compromising metal protection

 

Goal #2 – Predictive Maintenance

Trends in test results can identify mechanical and formulation issues that can jeopardize the life and longevity of the system and it components, such as:

  • the formation of acids and scale
  • contamination ingression
  • air and combustion gas leaks
  • electrical ground problems
  • localized overheating or hotspots

 

Goal #4 – Root-Cause Analysis

Quality coolant analysis at the proper intervals can identify the root cause of many problems:

  • blown head gasket
  • electrolysis
  • localized overheating or hot spots
  • air or combustion gas leaks
  • blocked coolant line
  • EGR failure

 

Goal #3 – Life Cycle Management

Coolant analysis can identify deficient maintenance practices and operational issues impacting equipment.



Coolant Analysis and Oil Analysis Do Mix

Whenever you review a coolant analysis report, it is very important to evaluate it in conjunction with oil analysis done at the same maintenance interval. The effects of engine overheating may be evident in both oil and coolant samples.


Cooling system deficiencies affect all systems. Engines, transmissions and hydraulics are often repaired with no consideration given to the possibility that a serious cooling system problem may have precipitated it. As a result, the same failures happen again and again. Coolant analysis can dramatically improve machine performance, reduce unnecessary repair and replacement costs, and extend the life of your equipment by optimizing the condition of the mechanical systems involved and the fluids that keep them running.



About the Author
Elizabeth Nelson is the Coolant Program Manager for Analysts, Inc. She has more than 30 years of experience working with OEMs and coolant manufacturers and training field and reliability engineers and maintenance personnel on the importance of coolant analysis. She can be contacted at enelson@analystsinc.com.