Have you ever had a heating core in a car start leaking and wonder how on Earth a heater core can get worn out enough to leak? I mean, what can possibly wear out in a heater core, right? Well, a chemical reaction known as “Electrolysis corrosion” is the sinister culprit and should be taken seriously.
Electrolysis corrosion occurs between a car’s coolant and metal surfaces, especially if the coolant system is composed of different types of metals.
A typical cooling system, for example, has an iron engine block, aluminum heads and an aluminum radiator. As a result of the different metals involved, small electric currents flow in between the surfaces, resulting in corrosion over time that eats away the metals and eventually causes leaks.
It’s not just metals that can corrode away — you’d think rubber is non-conductive and so couldn’t be corroded, but service team at http://www.yorkchryslerdodgejeep.com explained to us that radiator and heater hoses can also fail from the inside out because of electrolysis corrosion.
As it turns out, the coolant can react electrochemically with synthetic rubber, causing it to degenerate and eventually fail. Cutting open a hose that has failed because of electrolysis will usually reveal cracks created by the electrochemical assault.
Car manufacturers have known about electrolysis corrosion for years and dealt with it by putting corrosion inhibiters in the coolant fluid. This is why it’s important to make sure the antifreeze in your car is fresh.
To determine if your car has been damaged by electrolysis corrosion, be on the lookout for the following:
Radiator leakage — Basically, coolant leaking from the radiator and appearing as small, wet pinholes on the metal parts of the radiator… You may possibly see coolant dripping underneath your car also.
Heater core leakage — Coolant leaking from the heater core that usually leave drips or wet spots on the carpet under the dash of the vehicle. You may also see steam or a greasy vapor coming from the heater vents in the dash when the heater or defroster is on.
Intake manifold gasket leakage — This type of leak is often due to a softening of the seals on certain intake manifold gaskets but it may also be caused by corrosion eating away at the edges of coolant ports in the cylinder heads and intake manifold too. If enough metal erodes away, the coolant may seep past the gasket seals. Generally this can be fixed by replacing the intake manifold gasket with a new one with a wider sealing area with multiple sealing beads.
Wonder what you can do to prevent electrolysis corrosion? For starters, if you haven’t changed your coolant in more than five years, drain and flush your cooling system, then refill it with a 50/50 mixture of fresh coolant and distilled water.
DO NOT use ordinary tap water because it may contain dissolved minerals that are corrosive and will shorten the life of the corrosion inhibitors in the coolant. Instead, use pre-mixed antifreeze that contains distilled water and in the right amount.
Source: York Chrysler