Here we are entering another street rod season and hot rods across the country are preparing for the open road. Preparing your street rod for another trouble-free season is time well spent and should include such things as fresh brake fluid, checking brake pads and tires, oil change, and don’t forget the all-important cooling system.

When we talk about cooling systems many hot rodders tend to think simply of the radiator and coolant within, but there are other factors to consider when designing, maintaining, or upgrading your car’s cooling system. Many factors contribute to efficiently cooling your motor, and they involve water, oil, and air.

The major cooling system in your street rod is the radiator and coolant, and while you may have filled it with the best coolant money can buy, if it is over three years old it is time for a coolant change. Prior to the change it pays to run a flush through the entire system by running the car up to temperature and then draining the coolant into a safe container and disposing of it at your local recycling center, or even better, take the car in for a professional coolant flush. These flushes will remove all the built-up scale and mineral deposits in the motor and radiator, and provide a nice clean surface for the transfer of engine heat to the water.

The key to good cooling is efficient heat transfer, and the key to good heat transfer is clean internal surfaces and coolant treated with chemical surfactants such as AMSOIL INC. Coolant Boost. A surfactant reduces the surface tension of water and antifreeze in the cooling system. This reduced surface tension allows closer contact with metal parts. With more contact with metal surfaces, the coolant does a better job of moving heat away from hot engine parts, and finally to the atmosphere via the radiator and fan. Coolant Boost also prevents unwanted mineral and scale buildup, and provides a lubricant for your water pump. For street rods, the Coolant Boost is used in conjunction with a high-quality 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water.

In simple terms here is how the typical cooling system works. Your water pump (or pumps for Flathead lovers) circulate the water through the engine and back through the radiator. The water is running through channels in the block to extract the heat from the engine. The coolant enters the engine cool and leaves hot; the idea is to have the coolant enter as cool as possible and leave as hot as possible, providing maximum heat transfer. The thermostat will speed or slow the coolant’s movement through the motor to maintain the desired temperature. Generally speaking most cooling systems work best with a thermostat.

When the hot coolant enters the radiator the tubes and fins become hot. The trick to a good radiator is having enough fin and tube surface to absorb heat and enough of an air gap between the fins to allow the cool air flowing through the radiator to dissipate the heat into the outside air. That is the major portion of cooling your car, but other pieces of the cooling puzzle are at work here, too.

While the primary function of your motor oil is to lubricate the engine, it, too, acts as a coolant. Modern motors often employ oil sprayers on the bottom side of the pistons to help cool them on the combustion cycle and high-quality synthetic oil such as AMSOIL INC. will absorb and dissipate heat more efficiently than conventional organic oils. Since oil does a good job of cooling your motor, it only makes sense to cool your oil. An external oil cooler goes a long way to saving your engine and helping to maintain operating temperatures. The cooler and associated lines also add oil capacity and cooling to your engine. If possible, locate the oil cooler in a cool air stream or by using one of the aftermarket oil coolers with an electric fan. You can mount it anywhere and have effective oil cooling. Simple things like keeping the exterior of the oil pan clean also help dissipate heat from your oil.