The Header Tank: An Essential Part of A Car’s Cooling System

The header tank plays a crucial role in maintaining the car’s cooling system by ensuring the engine runs efficiently and preventing it from overheating. In places where the climate is unpredictable and temperatures fluctuate, proper maintenance and cleaning of header tanks are paramount to maintaining the engine in good working order. Performing these tasks can help make considerable savings and ensure your vehicle remains in top condition in preparation for autumn and winter. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the DIY maintenance and cleaning of header tanks, providing essential tips for car enthusiasts to optimize their car’s cooling system and keep it running smoothly.

Understanding the Header Tank

Before diving into the maintenance and cleaning of your car’s header tank, it’s vital to understand what it is and how it works. The header tank also known as the coolant reservoir or overflow tank, is a vital part of the cooling system. It serves as a reservoir for coolant, allowing for expansion and contraction due to temperature changes. As the engine heats up, coolant is pumped through the system, and any excess fluid flows into the header tank. When the engine cools down, the coolant is drawn back into the radiator. This cycle ensures a consistent coolant level and prevents air pockets in the cooling system.

Signs Your Header Tank Needs Attention

Knowing when to perform maintenance and cleaning on your header tank is essential to avoid potential issues. Look out for signs like low coolant levels, visible leaks, or discoloured coolant, as these issues could indicate problems with the header tank or the cooling system. Additionally, if you notice your engine temperature rising unusually high levels quite frequently, then it might be time to check and clean the header tank.


DIY Header Tank Maintenance

1. Checking Coolant Levels:
Regularly inspect the coolant level in the header tank. The tank usually has level indicators (max and min) for reference. If the level is below the minimum mark, add a mixture of distilled water and coolant in the right ratio as recommended by the manufacturer.

2. Inspecting for Leaks:
Carefully inspect the header tank, hoses, and connections for any visible leaks or cracks. Replace damaged components promptly to prevent coolant loss and potential engine damage.

3. Assessing the Pressure Cap:
The pressure cap is essential to the maintenance of the cooling system’s integrity. Check the cap for wear or damage, and ensure it holds the specified pressure. If it can’t then it is time to replace it.


Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning the Header Tank

1. Safety First:
Allow the engine to cool down completely before attempting to open the header tank. Hot coolant can cause severe burns.

2. Draining the Coolant:
Locate the drain valve or petcock at the bottom of the radiator and carefully drain the coolant into a suitable container.

3. Removing the Header Tank:
Depending on the car model, you may need to remove the header tank to clean it thoroughly. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions or consult your car’s manual. You might also want to arrange the parts in the order you took them off so that you can easily retrace your steps when it is time to reassemble the header tank.

4. Cleaning the Tank:
Rinse the header tank with a mixture of water and mild detergent. Use a soft brush or cloth to remove any debris or sediment build-up.

5. Inspecting the Hoses:
While the tank is out, inspect the hoses connected to it for any signs of wear, leaks, or blockages. When checking for wear, pay particular attention to cracks in the hoses as excessive wear will cause hoses to develop cracks.

6. Reassembly:
Once the tank is cleaned and dry, reassemble it following the reverse order of removal. Don’t forget to double check the header tank is fixed into place properly as if not, it could result in serious damage to your car’s engine.

Recommended Cleaning Frequency and Coolant Change:

For optimal cooling system performance, it’s advisable to clean the header tank and perform coolant change at least once a year or as recommended in your car’s maintenance schedule. Regular maintenance will help prevent sediment buildup and corrosion, and ensure the longevity of your header tank and cooling system.

An Important Car-Maintenance Job

Proper DIY maintenance and cleaning of header tanks are essential for UK car owners to ensure efficient engine cooling and prevent costly repairs. By following the step-by-step guide and performing regular checks, you can optimize your car’s cooling system, contributing to its overall longevity and performance. Taking a proactive approach to header tank maintenance will keep your vehicle running smoothly in the ever-changing climate of the UK, allowing you to enjoy the open roads with confidence.

However, if the cleaning and maintaining your car’s header tank doesn’t work it could be you will need to install a whole new cooling system onto your engine.  All the parts you need including the header tank are available from the NAR Group.