The cooling system in your car consists of a radiator, rubber hoses, a thermostat, a fan and a water pump. If any of these parts fails, the engine can become so hot it's permanently disabled. Leaks are usually the prime cause of cooling system problems. Cracked hoses, holes in the radiator, or leaky gaskets can cause a gradual loss of coolant. Check the cooling system only when it's cool, especially the radiator. If the radiator must be checked when the engine is hot, cover the radiator cap with a heavy cloth. Turn the cap counter-clockwise to the first stop and let the pressure release. Escaping steam will cause a hissing sound. The pressure is gone when the hissing stops. Push down on the cap and turn it all the way around to remove it. Be aware that removing the cap too quickly can cause hot steam and boiling coolant to spew from the radiator opening and could cause serious injury. As for hoses, these too should be checked only when the engine is cold. Each hose should be pliable and free of cracks and swelling. If a hose is hard and brittle or starting to split along its length, the hose should be replaced immediately.
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