Lets apply a metaphor to your car that I seldom use. Your body. After all, most of us have either named one of our cars or at least had a car in the family that had been named at some point. Ginger, Bessie, Gertrude… handsome gal of an old rig…
Water’s use in your car AND your body
Wikipedia tells me that we’re made up of something like 70% water. It lubricates our joints, helps deliver oxygen wherever we need it, and fills the shock-absorber up there in our chrome-domes. Come to think of it, you SHOULDN’T lubricate your car’s joints with water, CAN’T keep your car running on oxygen stored in water, and OUGHT NOT fill you shocks with it.
There is a parallel! It regulates your temperature! Water is used along with some other additives, to regulate you body’s temperature AND your car’s engine temperature! By additives, we’re talking anti-corrosives, hardness ions like magnesium/calcium, phosphorous… Stuff that may all stay whipped up in cooling harmony for a while, but can also bring down the party once they stop playing well.
Did the engineer think of that? Or is he only concerned about the first few years?
As the engineer does his thing back in his sterile vacuum of a desk where every metal surface is perfectly shiny and math dictates his reality, he forgets that life is full of unending contextual nuance and phenomenon. He forgets about the dragon flies, tumble weeds, bird feathers, and dust. He neglects to remember that, eventually, once our car reaches say, 50,000 miles, many of these things would have worked there way in between the layers of our cars and there will be unintended consequences.
The pic looks bad. So just clean ‘er up!
At first glance you may see the picture of the radiator above and just think of it as a mess that needs cleaned up. A good rinse off and blow down oughtta take care of her. In reality, it took 75,000 maybe 100,000 miles of driving to collect THAT many dragon fly wings. The regions completely covered? That’s where hot coolant hasn’t been getting cooled for a long time now. That’s where the aging additive package has prevented the calcium and magnesium from staying in suspension and they hardened. That is where the network of tubes that make up that radiator have been swollen shut with scale.
Old water in your engine gets skunky like that old beer in the back of your fridge.
Calcium and magnesium have the tendency to combine with the phosphates found in antifreeze and some additive packages. They form calcium and magnesium phosphate scale on heat transfer surfaces, especially on water pump seal faces. As coolant temperatures increase, hardness salts (calcium and magnesium) in solution become less soluble and increase their propensity to plate out on hot metal cooling system surfaces. Scale generally forms on the hot side of a cooling system and in areas of low or turbulent flow. Regions of your radiator blocked to airflow become these regions susceptible to scale. As scale forms, it leads to turbulent/restricted flow, which leads to more scale.
A few bucks now can save thousands later!
If your radiator looks like the one above, or worse, don’t clean it, replace it. If you drive a car that is prone/sensitive to damage resulting from overheating (Subaru-anyone?), replace your radiator or start a collection for a new engine. Heat kills!