Tech Tip #4 - Coolant, Fans, and Hoses
UNEQUIVOCALLY WATER IS THE BEST COOLANT! We recommend using a corrosion inhibitor comparable to Prestone Super Anti-Rust when using pure water. If freezing is a concern, use the minimum amount of antifreeze required for your climate. Stewart Components has extensively tested all of the popular "magic" cooling system additives, and found that none work better than water. In fact, some additives have been found to swell the water pumps seals and contribute to pump failures.
In static cooling situations, such as quenching metal during heat treating, softening agents (sometimes referred to as water wetting agents) will allow the water to cool the quenched part more evenly and quickly. The part will cool quicker, and the water will heat up faster. However, an automotive cooling system is not static. In fact, the velocities inside a cooling system are comparable to a fire hose forcing coolant against the walls of the engine's water jackets. If the softening agents actually aided in cooling the engine, the temperature of the coolant as it exited the engine would have to be higher because it would have absorbed more heat.
Electric fans have improved tremendously in recent years, in both quality and reliability. Electric fans now outperform mechanical fans in nearly every application, except towing and dirt oval track racing.
When using a mechanical fan, a properly designed shroud must be used. Most mechanical fans are not designed for high RPM use: they can have serious vibrations problems, due to air turbulence, when run over 6,500 RPM. This is a turbulence problem, not a balance problem, and will destroy the water pump and components in front of it. The large fans preferred by dirt oval track racers can consume up to 18 horsepower at 6,500 RPM. Do NOT run a mechanical fan that is any larger than required for the application.
Flex fans are a poor design for performance applications. They move less air at higher RPM, and only consume a fraction less power than standard fixed pitch fans.
Clutch-style fans are inconsistent and we do not recommend their use for any application, if possible.
Standard full-size hoses should be used to ensure maximum flow. Smaller "AN style" hoses decrease flow and hence inhibit proper cooling.
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