Motor Oil Is Your Vehicles Third Cooling System, AAA Says

Orlando, Fla. – 10/8/2003

During AAA Car Care Month in October, AAA reminds motorists their vehicles actually have three cooling systems.

According to John Nielsen, director of AAA’s nationwide Approved Auto Repair network, there’s the air-conditioning system and the familiar engine cooling system composed of water pump, radiator and liquid coolant. But, many motorists might be surprised to learn that oil also plays an important role in keeping their vehicle cool.

Heat that builds up in moving parts is reduced as oil makes its routine journey through the engine. The air passing under the vehicle as it is driven cools the oil in its pan before recirculation, he said.

But the lower the oil level, the hotter and harder the remaining oil has to work. Keeping the level at the “full” mark ensures proper lubrication and cooling. Low oil levels are a contributing cause of engine overheating that occurs in millions of vehicles each summer, Nielsen said.

Inspecting the oil level in a vehicle engine is easy. Simply remove the engine’s oil dip stick when the engine is off and has not been running for an extended period. Next, check to see if oil is coating the dip stick up to the “full” level. Oil needs to be added or changed if the oil coating is below this level.

In the familiar cooling system, the same mixture that prevents freeze-ups in winter will prevent corrosion build-up in the summer — a major cause of radiator plugging and overheating. The amount of liquid in the cooling system can be checked by inspecting the cooling system overflow bottle. The proper 50-50 mixture of ethylene glycol and water, commonly called antifreeze, can be checked with a simple test device available at auto part stores.

Nielsen recommends consumers who are uncomfortable or unsure about maintaining their vehicle’s cooling system seek professional assistance from a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility.

AAA inspects thousands of vehicle repair businesses nationwide as a service to members and the public. To receive AAA approval, these shops must meet AAA requirements that include customer satisfaction, trained technicians, and proper tools and equipment.

These shops also must agree to provide warranties and estimates that help protect consumers from unnecessary, incomplete or poorly performed repairs. Special benefits, including free maintenance inspections when other work is performed on a vehicle, are available to AAA members.

To locate a AAA-approved repair shop, telephone your local AAA club or visit on the Internet. Approved shops are required to prominently display their affiliation with AAA on the exterior of their business, and many advertise AAA’s approval in their advertisements.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 46 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.