This is a rumour that seems to be debunked over and over again and yet still this myth prevails, with a CHOICE survey showing that around 50% of people believed that they had to return to the dealership for servicing and that 90% of people who have recently bought a new car return to the dealership for servicing. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has made it clear that there is no such obligation to have your service be performed at the dealership, however warranty work must be done with the manufacturers approved repairer (typically the dealer).
There are however, a few exceptions to be aware of, a capped price servicing deal and an extended dealer warranty will require you to return to the dealer for services, all other warranties can be carried by a qualified mechanic. There are some specifications that must be followed to avoid voiding the warranty, these include that the service be done in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications and that suitable quality parts are used.
Many dealers will tout the benefits of genuine parts, but these parts can often be much more expensive than good quality non-genuine parts. Using non-genuine parts doesn’t void your car’s warranty but will yield the same results. The specific part that is replaced will not be covered under the manufacturer’s warranty but if there are any issues with the part that was installed you should return to the mechanic to have the issue rectified.
Servicing is essential to your car’s performance and longevity but this doesn’t mean that you should be locked into a potentially expensive servicing schedule with the dealer, as with most things shop around for the best price.
Servicing your car every six month can seem like a chore but as the old saying goes ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’. Stretching the time between services or out-right ignoring your scheduled services can lead to significant damages to your car as well as significant repair costs. Despite the obvious value in having your car serviced only 52% of Australians service their car at either six or twelve month intervals (according to RACQ data).
Your radiator is an essential part of your car’s engine and, just like everything else, it needs regular maintenance to keep your car running as it should.
When you check the radiator or top up your coolant, you need to do it correctly and safely. Practising good radiator safety will help prevent burns and injuries.
Watch the video
or keep reading for step by step radiator safety advice.
THE IMPORTANCE OF RADIATOR SAFETY
Radiators can be very dangerous if they are not handled correctly. It’s possible to seriously burn yourself with steam and boiling coolant if you don’t follow the right precautions. Keep in mind:
- Never open the radiator cap while the engine is hot
- Never pour cold water over the outside of the radiator
- Always use a protective glove and rag when opening the radiator cap
These are the basic precautions you need to follow to avoid burning yourself.
How to check the radiator
We recommend you check the coolant levels in your radiator at least once a month. If the coolant level has dropped, this could indicate a problem and you should seek advice.
To safely check and refill your radiator, you need to follow these steps:
1. Allow the engine to cool
Checking your radiator while the engine is still hot can be very dangerous. Allow your car to cool for a few hours after driving it before you open the radiator cap.
2. Use a protective glove and a rag to turn the radiator cap part way
Your car’s cooling system is pressurised to prevent the coolant from boiling if the engine temperature exceeds 100 degrees. If you open the radiator cap too quickly, the sudden loss of pressure can cause the coolant to boil instantly and cause serious injury.
Opening the cap part way will release the pressure slowly and safely. Remember that the radiator cap can be very hot and you turn it counter-clockwise to open it.
3. Open the radiator cap the rest of the way
Once the pressure has been safely released, you can finish opening the radiator cap the rest of the way. You can then check your coolant levels, top it up, and check for any other issues.
When do you need a new radiator?
You may need a new radiator if you notice:
- High engine temperatures during normal driving
- Loss of coolant
- Steam from the front of your car
- Radiator fins look damaged or clogged
You may also need to upgrade your cooling system to a heavy duty or performance radiator if you use your vehicle for towing or carrying heavy loads.
Things to remember
Your radiator maintains the correct temperature to protect your engine and automatic transmission while driving. If your engine is overheating, you need to get advice from a radiator specialist promptly to avoid potential damage to your engine.
Pouring cold water over an idling engine is an outdated technique which can be very dangerous on modern cars. This is because modern cars often have an aluminium radiator with a plastic tank. The plastic can become brittle over time and the sudden temperature change can cause it to crack and release steam.