Every automobile that has been manufactured in the last 20 years includes a coolant level sensor. How coolant level sensors help protect expensive machinery in your car’s engine is by alerting you when the level of coolant is dangerously low. There are also low level sensors for other liquid reservoirs in your engine, such as brake fluid and oil. Using these sensors can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in repairs.
How the Sensors Work
Coolant level sensors are connected to computer interfaces within your dashboard. When the level of the liquid within the coolant reservoir goes below the coolant, a warning light flashes to alert you of the problem. More advanced coolant level sensors work by gauging the electrical resistance of the coolant in the reservoir. As the coolant level falls, the resistance level falls as well. When it reaches a certain point, the sensor sends a signal to the car’s computer and you are notified by a low coolant light or a check engine light. Topping off the coolant reservoir will return the proper level of resistance to the sensor and the light will turn off.
Sensors Alert You to Unusual Problems
Coolant tends to evaporate over time because it is constantly being run through a hot engine. If you replace your coolant at regular intervals, you will probably never be alerted to any problems by the sensor. How coolant level sensors help protect expensive machinery from unexpected problems is as important as the regular wear and tear of normal use. If there is a leak in a hose or a crack in some part of the engine that causes coolant to leak at an irregular pace, you will probably first notice the problem when the sensor flashes the check engine light at you. Without the coolant level sensor to keep track of coolant levels the first indication of a problem could have been a very expensive engine failure.
Damage Low Coolant can Cause
Coolant and oil are the main ways that your car engine maintains a safe temperature. When there isn’t enough coolant to move through the engine, the engine can overheat very quickly. An overheated engine can lead to several very expensive problems. Hoses may be damaged by the high heat, which can allow too much or too little oxygen into the system. In the worst case scenario, an overheated engine can cause the engine heads to crack. A cracked engine head reduces your car’s compression. As the crack worsens, it becomes more and more difficult for the car to accelerate. Cracked heads also leak oil and other fluids and cause the car to overheat even more often.
Buying a New Vehicle is More Expensive Than Replacing a Sensor
Even the slightest crack in an engine head can cost hundreds of dollars to fix. The heads are an integral part of the engine block. To repair a cracked head, the mechanic needs to pull the engine from the car and tear it apart so that the heads are accessible. Some cracks can be fixed so that the heads are still usable, but most cracks mean that the heads have to be completely replaced. Depending on the type of car you own, replacing the heads can easily cost as much as replacing the car itself. Protecting your car’s heads from overheating is how coolant level sensors help protect expensive machinery most effectively.
What to do if Your Sensor is Broken
Coolant level sensors are relatively easy to replace. They are inexpensive parts that can be found at any local retail automotive parts store. Every vehicle has a differently configured coolant level sensor, so it could be beneficial to find a repair guide so that you can locate your sensor more accurately. Once located, replacing the sensor is fairly straightforward. Disconnect the old sensor from the electrical wires, then replace it with the new sensor. You can tell when a sensor is failing because it will flash a low coolant warning light to you when there is ample coolant in the reservoir.