Vehicle Engine Cooling System Functions, Components, and How It Works!

Function of the engine cooling system – When someone drives their vehicle for a long time, the vehicle will certainly get hot and if that has happened, the role of the cooling system is needed which functions as a temperature stabilizer.

The car cooling system plays an important role in maintaining optimal engine performance. As we know, a machine performs a combustion process to produce energy so it can produce heat.

However, if the temperature rises too high because the car engine is working too hard, then the engine will overheat. As a result, the vehicle can experience various problems, starting from the way out, deformation of the engine cylinder head, etc. In fact, the problem of an overheated vehicle can cause the engine to die if not taken seriously. Therefore a cooling system is needed.

The cooling system basically functions to prevent the engine from overheating or overheating. This cooling system helps remove excess heat from the engine and keeps the engine operating temperature ideal so that the engine can continue to operate optimally.

For this reason, for Sinaumed’s friends, so that they don’t experience the problem of an overheated vehicle engine, it’s a good idea for you to understand well the meaning of the cooling system, as well as understand its functions and how it works.

Further related information can be seen below!

What is Engine Cooling System?

The vehicle engine cooling system is a system whose job is to maintain engine temperature in a stable temperature condition. The internal combustion engine (and external combustion engine) carries out the combustion process to produce energy, and this is converted into mechanical energy by means of the engine mechanism.

The engine is not a completely efficient instrument, all the heat generated during combustion is not converted into energy, some is wasted through the exhaust ducts and some is absorbed into the material surrounding the combustion chamber. Efficient engines have the ability to convert heat from combustion into energy that is converted into mechanical motion, with very little heat wasted. Machines are always designed to achieve the highest efficiency, but economics, durability, safety and environmental friendliness are also taken into account.

The continuous combustion process of the engine causes very high engine temperatures. Extremely high temperatures make machine construction uneconomical, most of the machines are also located in an environment that is not too far from humans thereby reducing the safety factor. Very low temperatures are also not very favorable in the working process of the machine. The cooling system is used to maintain the engine temperature within ideal operating temperature limits.

The principle of cooling is to release engine heat to the air, the type that is released directly into the air is called air cooling, the type that uses liquid is called water cooling.

The cooling system is an additional set of parts to an engine that prevent the engine from overheating. With this system the engine temperature is maintained so it doesn’t overheat.

So even though the engine works at high rpm and lives for a long time, the engine temperature is not too high. In this way, the machine works efficiently and safely for a long time.

Cooling System Type

In order to make it easier for Sinaumed’s friends to understand the cooling system on the machine, three types of cooling systems will be explained, you need to know the following:

1. Air Conditioner (Air Conditioner)

This cooling system uses air to cool the car engine, either naturally or produced by a cooling fan. This cooling system is usually found in low power engines such as motorcycle engines.

AC is an engine cooling mechanism that uses air or wind from outside the vehicle. The air conditioning system has a simpler mechanism, as this cooling component consists only of air rods placed on the surface of the engine block.

The function of these air fins is to release engine heat into the air flowing through the engine. This layer of air can absorb and release heat because it is a conductor.

The advantages of the following AC systems:

  • Compact design and doesn’t take up much space
  • Fast cooling due to the position of the engine outside
  • No maintenance required

Disadvantages of the air conditioning system:

  •  Cooling is affected by vehicle speed, not engine temperature.
  •  Possible Overheating If Road Is Clogged
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2. Water Cooling System

Water Cooling System is a system that cools the engine with water or liquid to release heat. Generally this cooling system is used in high power engines such as cars.

In a water cooling system, the liquid used as a coolant can be mineral water or a special cooling system liquid (coolant).

In contrast to natural cooling, water cooling uses an additional component in the form of a radiator which releases heat from the engine.

Water cooling is usually used in closed engine cars.

Advantages of the water cooling system

  • The ability to accelerate the engine to reach working temperature
  • In modern cars, this system can encourage more efficient use of fuel.
  • The cooling system works regardless of the vehicle’s position

Lack of water cooling system

  • Cooling water should be checked periodically
  • Their construction is more complex, so if some components fail, the engine will overheat.

3. Oil cooling system

Oil cooler, you may have heard of it. The oil cooling system basically only works to cool the engine oil.

Engine oil, can also function as a coolant because oil can absorb and release heat.

In this case, the circulating oil is directed through the oil cooler. The oil cooler is a radiator-like component that releases the heat carried by the engine oil to the open air.

Of the three types of cooling systems mentioned above, the most widely used is of course the water cooling system.

Engine Cooling System Function

The function of the cooling system on the engine is usually as follows:

1. Absorb engine heat

The function of the first cooling system is to absorb heat from the engine, namely. unused portion of heat. converted into kinetic energy, the cooling system absorbs heat. If heat is not absorbed, the engine will overheat and engine parts will fail.

2. Maintaining the Working Temperature of the Machine

Another function of the cooling system is to maintain the working temperature of the engine. The engine operating temperature occurs around 80-90 degrees Celsius, when the engine has reached its operating temperature, the engine performance is optimal, but if the engine operating temperature is low or too high, it will reduce the operating temperature and engine performance, so this cooling system keeps the engine temperature at operating temperature.

An engine that is still cold (has not yet reached operating temperature) will cause suboptimal engine performance, excessive wear and excess emissions. However, an engine that is too hot (too high operating temperature) can cause rapid damage to engine parts due to expansion.

3. Acceleration of the engine to reach operating temperature

The third function of the cooling system is to accelerate the engine to reach operating temperature. As explained above, optimal engine performance when the engine operates at its operating temperature. To accelerate the engine to reach operating temperature, the cooling system is equipped with a thermostatic component whose function is to accelerate the engine to reach operating temperature.

Engine Cooling System Components

The water cooling system is used to cool the hot vehicle engine. The following are the components it contains.

1. Radiator

The radiator is a component in the form of an iron plate whose function is to cool the water used to dissipate heat from the engine. It works by using airflow through radiator fins.

Thus, hot water is initially supplied to the radiator core. In this process, heat is transferred to the radiator core and directed directly to the radiator fins. Additionally, as air passes through the radiator fins, heat is released into the air stream.

2. Close the radiator

The radiator cap is a component that functions as a cover for the top tank radiator and regulates air pressure in the car’s cooling system. The top tank itself is a tank to collect hot water or water from the machine.

Please note that the air pressure in the cooling system may change due to water temperature. The higher the water temperature, the faster the water evaporates. This then increases the air pressure in the cooling system and the radiator cap monitors that air pressure and keeps it normal.

3. Radiator hose

The next component of the car cooling system is the radiator hose. The main task of this component is to drain cooling water from the radiator to the engine (bottom hose) or vice versa, from the engine to the radiator (top hose). Usually this radiator hose is made of rubber which is flexible and can withstand hot temperatures, so it can flow high temperature or even boiling water.

4. Thermostat

The thermostat plays an important role as a component of the car’s cooling system. The first job is to help acceleration so that the engine quickly reaches its operating temperature or temperature. Then the second is to regulate the circulation of cooling water.

Note that the thermostat only works when the engine has reached a certain temperature. If the vehicle’s engine heat has not reached operating temperature, this component prevents the flow of cooling water. But once the engine reaches operating temperature, this component automatically opens the channel. Thus, the liquid can flow into the radiator.

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5. Water jacket

The water jacket is part of the car’s cooling system which is designed as a water channel. Its main function is the space where the cooling water flows.

Therefore, cooling water flows inside the water jacket and absorbs heat from the engine parts involved in the combustion process. After the cooling water brings hot temperatures, the water must first enter the water jacket.

In addition, when the thermostat valve is open, hot cooling water flows into the radiator to achieve the cooling process. In the next process, after the water cools down, the water flows back into the water jacket to be reused to absorb heat from the engine.

6. Reservoir

The reservoir is a thick plastic tube that sits near the radiator head. This component functions as a reservoir for radiator cooling water.

In addition, the tank is also used as a pipe to receive water vapor when the car engine is at high temperatures. In addition, the vapor in the pipe condenses so that it can become a liquid.

7. Cooling fan

The cooling fan cools the radiator by directing outside air through the radiator fins. There are two types of fans, namely manual fans driven by a crankshaft and electric fans driven by electric motors.

8. Water pump

The water pump works as the name suggests by pumping cooling water from the radiator to the engine. This component allows cooling water to circulate properly so that the engine temperature does not overheat during operation. The location itself is next to the time zone or time chain.

9. Temperature thermometer

The temperature thermometer is used to measure the temperature of the cooling water. Later, this information will be displayed on the panel on the engine temperature gauge. But you need to know that in modern cars this temperature thermometer component has been replaced with an ECT sensor.

The car cooling system has many components, each of which is important. With these various components, the car engine remains at an ideal operating temperature and does not cause overheating.

How Does the Cooling System Work?

The cooling system works on the principle of heat transfer. We know that heat is a form of energy and energy cannot be created or destroyed.

Therefore, to lower the engine temperature, the heat is not removed, but transferred.

What is the direction of heat transfer?

Engine heat is transferred to the outside air through a mechanism called the cooling system. This heat transfer process requires a medium that can absorb, store and release heat. Water and air are usually used as intermediaries.

When the engine temperature is high, the coolant absorbs heat inside the engine. The coolant is then directed to a component called a radiator.

Inside the radiator, engine heat absorbed and stored by the coolant is released into the open air.

The ultimate goal of this cooling system is to transfer heat from the engine to the outside air. But in reality, the car engine is closed under the hood, so a radiator component is needed to dissipate heat.

The car cooling system has three stages based on engine temperature, let’s see the review below:

1. Engine temperature is cold

When the engine is cold, the cooling system does not work at all, even though the engine is running. This is because engines need heat to ensure the best possible combustion.

So the radiator does not cool the heat generated by the engine. The detailed stages are as follows:

  •  The machine is turned on
  •  Heat is produced
  •  Cooling water absorbs heat
  •  Water continues to circulate around the engine while the thermostat is still closed
  •  Engine temperature 80 degrees Celsius

When the engine temperature is detected to reach 80 degrees Celsius, the thermostat opens, so that the circulation of cooling water begins to flow to the cooler.

In this mode, the thermostat is open but the cooling fan is not running. This is because 80 degrees is the optimal engine operating temperature. Thus, the cooling system maintains the engine temperature between 80 and 90 degrees Celsius.

2. The engine temperature is above 90 degrees Celsius

When the engine temperature is above 90 degrees Celsius, the cooling fan will turn on and circulate air to the radiator fins.

This fan has three speed levels: low, medium and high. When the engine temperature has exceeded the optimal operating temperature, the fan rotates at high speed.

In this process, the car’s engine cooling system is fully active. As a result of this process, water is cooled in a low temperature cooler.

The fan will continue to rotate until the ECU detects the car’s engine temperature returns to 80-90 degrees Celsius. When it is stable, the fan will stop by itself.


That’s all for a brief discussion of what a cooling system is, its functions, benefits, and how it works. Not only knowing what an engine cooling system is, but also discussing the types, functions, benefits, and proper working methods so that the engine is maintained.

Knowing what an engine cooling system is for automotive enthusiasts is very useful to know how the cooling system works on their four-wheeled vehicles so that they always pay attention to engine performance whether it is too hot or not so that the engine lasts longer and is healthier. Thus a review of the function of the engine cooling system.