Beach Benz

Servicing Mercedes Benz Exclusively for over 20 years

Cooling System Components

Today we want to talk about a very important system in our cars – the cooling system. It’s one of those things that you don’t give much thought to until it fails and then you’re stranded by the side of the road.

Cooling systems fail more often than any other mechanical system – usually because of neglect. Don’t you hate it when something breaks, and you could have done something to prevent it?

The good news is that if you take care of your cooling system it can keep working for the life of your car.

Here at AutoNetTV, we emphasize preventive maintenance services like replacing your coolant according to the factory schedule. But the various parts that make up the cooling system need attention too. The major components of the cooling system are the water pump, freeze plugs, the thermostat, the radiator, cooling fans, the heater core, the pressure cap, the overflow tank and the hoses.

It sounds complicated, but we don’t have to be experts – we can leave that to our friendly service technicians at Beach Benz. But, having an overview will help us remember to take care of our cooling systems.

Most people would be surprised to know that burning fuel in your engine produces up to 4,500 degrees of heat. And all that heat has to be dealt with. If the heat can’t be drawn off the engine, the pistons will literally weld themselves to the inside of the cylinders – then you just have to throw the engine away and get a new one. That would cost thousands of dollars.

Now the water pump is what forces the coolant through passages in the engine to absorb heat. The pump is driven by a belt that needs replacement from time to time. And the water pump will eventually wear out and need to be replaced. Spending some money on replacing the belts and water pump is much less than the cost of repairing the massive damage that can be done when an engine seizes.

There’s another little part of the coolant system that protects the engine. It’s called a freeze plug. If you remember from high school chemistry, water expands when it freezes. In very cold areas, the coolant can actually freeze when the vehicle is left sitting.

It is hard to believe, but the expanding frozen coolant can actually crack the engine block. The freeze plugs fit into the engine block. They fit tight enough to withstand the pressure of a running engine, but can expand or pop out if the coolant freezes. These little things save a lot of engine blocks.

That brings up a good point. An engine has to work in all kinds of temperatures – extremely hot as well as very cold. How does the cooling system adapt to external temperatures as well as varying operating conditions?

Well, it’s much like the way you keep your house at a comfortable temperature all year round – with a thermostat. The thermostat in your car controls how much coolant flows through your engine. When the engine is cold, it restricts coolant flow until the engine comes up to an efficient operating temperature. Then it starts opening up to move more coolant to keep the temperature within a specified range.

The thermostat needs to be replaced from time to time as well. It’s easy to diagnose a failed thermostat and is fairly inexpensive to replace. We can do this for you at Beach Benz in Huntington Beach, just give us a call: 714 842-9816. Now we’ve been talking about all this heat we’ve got to get rid of, but haven’t really talked about where it goes. That’s where the radiator comes in. The hot coolant passes through the radiator. Air flows past the cooling fins and cools the coolant.

The radiator has two tanks that hold coolant: sometimes one the top and bottom or one on either side. If you have an automatic transmission, one of the tanks will also contain a second tank that cools the transmission fluid. Large SUV’s and trucks often have a separate transmission cooler. So when you drive around Huntington Beach, the air is forced past the radiator. But driving doesn’t produce enough air flow. So the radiator has cooling fans that force fresh air over the radiator. These fans may be powered by a belt or by electric motors.

Now, you also have something called a heater core. The heater core is like a mini radiator. A small fan blows air over the heater core and into the passenger compartment of your vehicle. That’s how you warm your car when it’s cold out.

Next is the radiator cap. With most newer cars around Huntington Beach, you never remove the radiator cap, except to replace it. You add coolant through the overflow tank. The radiator cap is also called a pressure cap, because its job is to maintain pressure in the cooling system.

High pressure raises the boiling point of the coolant, so it cools more effectively even in very demanding conditions. That is why you need to replace the cap from time to time. They recommend changing it out every time you replace your coolant.

Coming back to the overflow tank, it is needed because when the coolant gets hot it expands and the overflow holds the extra volume. The tank helps maintain the proper level of coolant and keeps air out of the system. You should never open the radiator cap or over flow tank when the engine is hot. This could lead to serious burns.

What else do we need to do to keep our cooling systems working well? Well, there are the hoses that hook all of these pieces together. They’re obviously very tough to deal with the pressure and high temperatures. But they do get worn. Sometimes they get spongy from the heat. Sometimes they lose their connection to the radiator, water pump, etc. It’s a great idea to have your Huntington Beach service center inspect your hoses at least once a year and replace them, if needed, before they break.

Beach Benz can help you check your cooling system and make any necessary adjustments or repairs. Give us a call at 714 842-9816.

Recommended Service Intervals At Beach Benz

Most people in the Fountain Valley area are aware that automotive manufacturers have recommended service intervals. Following recommended service intervals is very important. The engineers that design our vehicles have tested the various systems and components to meet durability and safety standards. Some of these standards are self-imposed and others, like those for emissions components, are government mandated for the areas around Westminster, Garden Grove and Costa Mesa in California.

The maintenance schedules are designed to achieve the standards. Think of the benefits of following recommended intervals as falling into three general categories: Protection, Efficiency and Safety.

Protection. Let’s start with motor oil. First of all, the engineers recommend a particular weight and type of motor oil for your sedan. All of their oil change recommendations assume using the proper motor oil. Motor oil contains detergents and other additives that clean the engine and provide corrosion resistance. Over time, the additives are depleted. The oil also becomes contaminated by water, dirt and combustion gases.

Extending your interval beyond the recommendation means that your sedan engine will be operating without the full protection of fresh motor oil. It also means that sludge can form in contaminated oil and clog up passages in the engine, starving parts from needed lubrication.

Efficiency. Some services are designed to keep automotive systems operating efficiently. For example, the fuel system gets clogged up with gum and varnish from the fuel. Fuel doesn’t flow efficiently which reduces fuel economy. A fuel system cleaning restores the fuel system’s efficiency and increases your gas mileage.

Safety. Your brakes are obviously one of the most important safety systems on your sedan. The manufacturer has scheduled brake pad replacement as well as power brake fluid drain and replacement intervals. Because brakes are so important, a brake inspection is also on the schedule to head off problems before they result in an accident.

Check your owner’s manual for recommended service schedules or talk with your Huntington Beach service advisor at Beach Benz by calling 714 842-9816. You’ll find our shop located at 7492 Slater Ave in Huntington Beach, California 92647.

You may be surprised to learn that various inspections may be on your list of factory recommendations for your sedan. These inspections are usually at major intervals like fifteen or thirty thousand miles. They’re designed to uncover important parts that may be close to failing.

Your sedan owner’s manual can tell you when to change your oil, but it can’t tell you that you have a radiator hose that’s bulging and about to burst. For that you need a trained auto technician. These scheduled inspections are in addition to the multi-point inspections done with a full-service oil change.

Defensive Driving In Huntington Beach California

There was a man in Fountain Valley who learned that most car accidents occur within a mile of home – so he moved. (Just Kidding!)

When we think of defensive driving, we often focus on our local California highway situations. The fact of the matter is we need to be just as careful close to home in Huntington Beach, because that’s where we do most of our driving. We can’t let our familiar surroundings keep us from driving defensively.

Defensive driving begins with the proper attitude. Have in mind that you won’t let anyone take your safety away from you. You’ll be aware of your surroundings, road conditions, other vehicles and hazards. And the first person to be concerned with is you: start with your own environment.

Don’t leave without securing all occupants including children and pets. Watch for loose items that can become projectiles during evasive maneuvers.

Driving too fast or too slow increases the chance of an accident.

Never drive impaired: Alcohol is a factor in half of all fatal crashes. Never drink and drive.

Other impairments include being sleepy, angry, daydreaming or talking. If you suddenly wonder how you got where you are – you’re not paying enough attention.

Keep your windows clean and uncluttered. No fuzzy dice and stickers.

Keep your car in good shape so that it handles properly: Maintain tires, lights, brakes, suspension, wheel alignment and steering.

Always use your turn signals while driving around Huntington Beach California. Avoid other vehicles’ blind spots.

Don’t drive faster than your headlights – if you can’t stop within the distance you can see, you’re going too fast.

Avoid driving over debris in the road. Even harmless looking items can cause damage or an accident.

Keep your wheels straight when waiting to turn at an Huntington Beach California intersection. That way if you’re hit from behind, your car won’t be pushed into on-coming traffic.

My daddy always said that when you drive, you’re actually driving five cars: yours, the one in front, the one behind and the ones on either side. You can’t trust that other drivers will do the right thing, so you’ve got to be aware of what they’re doing at all times.

If you see another car driving erratically, weaving, crossing lanes, etc., stay back. Take the next right turn if you’re downtown Huntington Beach, or take the next exit on the California highway. Notify the police if you see someone driving dangerously in our Huntington Beach community.

Never follow too close. The minimum distance is the two second rule. Pick a landmark ahead, like a tree or road marker. When the car in front of you passes it, start counting: ‘one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand’. If you pass the landmark before reaching two-one-thousand, you’re following too close.

Remember that the two second rule is the minimum – it assumes you’re alert and aware. Three seconds is safer. Move out to five seconds or more if it’s foggy or rainy.

Someone will inevitably move into your forward safety zone – just drop back and keep a safe distance.

If someone follows you too closely, just move over.

Don’t play chicken by contesting your right of way or race to beat someone to a merge. Whoever loses that contest has the potential to lose big and you don’t want any part of that. So stay alert, constantly scan around your car and arrive safely.

Beach Benz
7492 Slater Ave
Huntington Beach, California 92647
714 842-9816

Keeping Your ‘Old Faithful’ Auto Running

At Beach Benz we’ve had a lot of people asking how they can make their vehicles last longer. These questions are actually a reflection of a trend that’s been building for several years. The median age of personal vehicles is now over nine years. And 33 percent of all vehicles on the road have over 75,000 miles on them. It looks like it’s going to keep heading in that direction for a while. With high fuel prices a lot of folks are putting off buying a new car. Thanks to AutoNetTV, we can provide you with a video answer to this question.

So let’s say you’re one of the average people in the Fountain Valley area; you’ve got a nine year old car with 80,000 miles on the odometer. What can you to do make it last another year or two?

Let’s start with the premise that there’s no reason that a modern car can’t run for 200,000 miles with proper care. The engineering and manufacturing quality is there.

Of course, some parts will wear out along the way, but there’s no reason for a catastrophic meltdown if you stay on top of your recommended maintenance. The maintenance schedule in some owner’s manuals runs out at 60,000 miles or so: how do we know what to do when we’re way past that?

It is a challenge, for example: If a service is recommended every 15,000 miles for the first 60,000 miles you can just keep getting it done at least every 15,000 miles after you hit 60,000 miles. But, it gets more complicated because older engines lose some efficiency, are dirtier inside and are just more stressed. That means it’s very important to not miss any scheduled services. Skipping just one oil change, for example, leaves an opportunity for harmful sludge to build up.

So all the usual things like oil changes, transmission service, coolant service, brakes, power steering, fuel system cleaning – all that stuff need to be maintained. People responsible for fleet vehicles around Fountain Valley are positively religious about scheduled maintenance. They know that money spent on maintenance saves them three ways:

  1. it saves fuel;
  2. it prevents costly repairs, an;
  3. they can postpone purchasing new vehicles.

Having the oil changed may be the most important thing. A full service oil change means that all of your other fluids get topped off so they are never low enough to cause damage. It also gives your technician a chance to spot problems in the early stages so that you can fix them before they get expensive. And it gives you a touch point with a professional along the way to remind you of things that aren’t scheduled as often – things like differential service and timing belt replacement.

If you live in the Fountain Valley area and have an older vehicle, you may need to follow the severe service maintenance schedule. Check your owner’s manual and talk with your service advisor at Beach Benz. Conditions inside an older engine, transmission and cooling system can arguably be considered severe – so shorter intervals could well be called for.

And, we would strongly encourage you to consider using high mileage formulation fluids. They’re fluids like engine oil, transmission fluid and coolant that are formulated for older engines. They have special additives to clean deposits, and to condition and restore seals and gaskets that dry out with age. Some people start using higher mileage formulations at around 50,000 miles as a preventive measure.

Of course you also want to still look marvelous in your older car. Salt and road grime wreak havoc on your paint job and can lead to body rust – so regular washing is very important. Also, a good quality waxing is recommended at least twice a year.

Give us a call for more information:

Beach Benz
7492 Slater Ave
Huntington Beach, California 92647
714 842-9816