John Deere Maintenance Monday: Cleaning radiator fins
Does dirt and debris have an effect on engine temperature?
Radio interview source: Mark Hanna, Extension Ag Engineer, Iowa State University
In this edition of Maintenance Monday, we're answering a question from Chris in Texas. He lives in a dry, dusty area and his tractor engine has been running hot lately. Does dirt and debris have an effect on engine temperature?
Mark Hanna is an extension ag engineer at Iowa State University. He says yes. Heat from the engine is exhausted through the radiator fins. If they're clogged, you risk overheating the engine. The fins are delicate, so if you pry around and try to knock out the dirt, you could damage them. He says the best way to clean them up is with compressed air.
"Blowing out through those fins, or around those fins, is probably the best way to do it," he says. "If you've got some dust on the front, if you can get in from behind a little bit without doing any damage to the fins or something, that's probably the easiest way to do it."
Hanna says the key for most people is remembering to check the condition of the radiator. When you're working in a dusty environment, inspect the radiator fins for dust and debris after every operation. However, you do have to judge how often to clean them out, because it is possible to over-do it.
"If you just clean the fins out maybe on a daily or weekly basis and don't really need to be doing that, after awhile you get to swinging that air wand around in there close to the radiator and you probably end up doing more damage to the fins," says Hanna. "So it's more of a question about how fast are they getting dirty, and am I checking that periodically to make sure that they're relatively clean."
Sometimes the radiator fins will collect bugs and other tough-to-remove crud. In this case, soak the fins with soap and water, and rinse with a garden hose. A pressure sprayer may also do the trick, but you risk bending the fins.
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