Electrolysis in Vehicles: What You Need to Know

Electrolysis is a process that can cause severe damage to the radiator and cooling system in your vehicle. It occurs when electric current travels to parts where it shouldn't be and corrodes the thin metal pipes, causing them to leak and malfunction over time.

Understanding Electrolysis

Electrolysis is a common problem that affects the radiator and is caused by energy from ungrounded parts or faulty wiring. The electric current flows through the metal pipes that contain and cool the coolant fluid, causing corrosion and deteriorating the pipes. This can also occur due to the difference in electrical resistance between different parts of the vehicle's cooling system.

Causes of Electrolysis

Poor grounding is the primary cause of electrolysis. Electricity is allowed to flow through parts and fluids in the cooling system, causing damage. Some common reasons for poor grounding include:

  • Bad wiring or tampering with the wiring
  • Insufficient repairs
  • Damaged or shorted relays
  • Incorrect installation of cooling system parts
  • Poor connections and isolation between different metals and alloys

Symptoms of Electrolysis

To detect the early signs of electrolysis, look out for the following symptoms:

  • Aluminum peeling with small holes, similar to an orange's skin
  • Damaged, melted, or burned hoses
  • Tiny holes near the manifold, especially if it is plastic
  • Low coolant pH
  • Leaks near the manifold

If you experience any of these symptoms, it's best to visit a repair shop immediately to prevent further damage to your engine.

Preventing and Fixing Electrolysis

To prevent electrolysis, we recommend getting regular inspections at our auto repair shop. You can also measure your coolant pH monthly or use a stray current test meter to check for excess electricity. If electrolysis has already occurred, a repair shop can inspect the vehicle and determine the source of the excess electricity. They will then change any faulty wiring or relays and ensure proper grounding of all electrical parts.

Cooling System Problems? Come And We Will Take A Look!

Experiencing any coolant leaks, overheating or other cooling system problems? We provide everything from coolant system repairs and inspections to more serious procedures. Schedule an appointment online or via a phone call, and Craig’s Car Care will be happy to help.

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