Whether you drive an Audi, MINI, SAAB, VW or BMW the Denver summer temperatures are not a time to be stuck on the side of the road. If you don’t know about your cooling system you may be overlooking a big issue.

When you see the “Fill Coolant” message pop up on your vehicle’s display it seems fairly harmless.  You can just top off the coolant and everything is fine, right? Unfortunately this is not the case. The cooling system is a closed system and doesn’t need fluid unless there is a leak or damaged component.

What is the cooling system?

The cooling system is comprised of many components. Some of the commonly known components are hoses, radiator, thermostat, water pump, heater core, cooling fan, coolant fluid, and heater valve. These components all work together and keep the coolant at about 200 F degrees.  At this temperature the engine ‘s combustion chamber is hot enough to vaporize fuel for use and reduce emissions and the oil is heated to the right viscosity so the engine parts move freely and operate  with less effort.

So why is the cooling system important?

In the process of operation the engine gets hot. Very hot. The combustion chamber of an engine can reach 4,500 F. If the engine is not properly cooled these high temperatures can the metal to get hot enough that pistons will weld to the cylinder. This is what is referred to as a “Seized Engine” and it indicates the destruction of the engine.

How do I know if I have a cooling system issue?

There are a few key indicators to look for.

  • A “Fill Coolant” or “Check Cooling System” indicator.
  • The car’s temperature gauge is in the “high” zone or close.
  • Drops or puddle under the vehicle (usually bright green or reddish).

Coolant-reservoir-and-level-indicator-imageWhat do I do if I have a coolant leak or my engine is overheating?

If you’re driving and the engine is overheating

  • Find a safe spot and pull over. Call a tow truck to prevent driving and causing further damage to your engine.

If you notice a puddle on the floor or an indicator message comes on

  • Assess the size of the puddle (if present)and note which area of the car it is coming from.
  • Check the coolant level. You may be able to tell if the coolant level is full without opening the cap. If you cannot tell you will need to remove the cap but please DO NOT OPEN THE CAP immediately if the vehicle has recently been driven. This cap seals the system and creates a pressurization. If it is unscrewed and opened while hot the fluid will bubble and jump out. Remember it is around 200 F degrees and you will get burned. Wait for car to cool down.
  • Call us with these details and we’ll guide you on next course of action (either to tow or carefully drive car in).

 What next?

We will check over the cooling system to identify the issue and make the recommendations of repairs with an estimate for repairs.


If you have further questions about your cooling system or need to make an appointment or arrange a tow-in please call us at 303.238.7222 or request an appointment online.