When driving your car, your engine can get extremely hot. The combustion of the gas coupled with the extensive system of moving parts makes the entire network heat up drastically. Since this can adversely affect your car if left unchecked, there is always a cooling system built in to keep everything running smoothly. Your car will have a coolant tank that feeds liquid into the radiator, which will, in turn, help cool down the engine parts. While this system can be relatively complex, there is one component that you want to make sure is working properly: the coolant cap. Sometimes referred to as the radiator cap, the coolant cap is there to maintain pressure on the system, so everything works correctly. Below we’ll outline how the coolant cap works, and what kinds of caps are available.
Coolant System Basics
Most cars are equipped with one of two types of coolant tanks; pressurized and non-pressurized. Both tanks operate in a similar way, but the key difference is how they disperse the coolant to the radiator. While we won’t get into extensive detail about the mechanics of this system, it’s important to note that the coolant cap will be different for each tank. For a pressurized tank, you want a non-vented coolant cap. For a non-pressurized tank, you want a vented cap.
The cap works by releasing heated coolant when the pressure becomes too high. As the coolant heats up, it expands, thus increasing the amount of pressure exerted on the system. A coolant cap is designed as a release valve once that pressure has hit a certain threshold. For modern cars, the coolant that is released is diverted into a separate tank to be recirculated once it has been cooled down.
Pressure and Coolant Caps
Depending on your coolant system, you will need a proper cap that is rated for your tank. Most tanks operate within about 15psi; however, some models have lower or higher pressure ratings. It’s imperative, though, that you get a coolant cap that is appropriately rated for your system. It may be tempting to get a higher rated cap to “upgrade” your cooling capabilities, or, conversely, to get a lower rated cap to minimize the stress on your engine. In either case, this is a bad idea as it can create problems with your gaskets, piping, and hoses. Only a correctly rated coolant cap will ensure that your system works properly.
If you have any questions about your coolant system in general, or what kind of coolant cap to buy, talk to the cooling system experts at MotoRad USA. Our coolant caps are highly rated and meet all state and federal guidelines, as well as OEM standards.