Too much bling can hamper a truck's cooling system

By: Steve Skinner

The latest truck engines create more heat than they used to, which creates extra challenges.

Too much bling can hamper a truck's cooling system
Cool Cat: the bullbar is well in front of the radiator, and the driving lights and signs are out of the way.


Truck heat may not be a hot topic right now in a cold Australian winter, but in another few months it will be once again.

Even more so in a few years when Euro 6 emission standards come in.

Chris Loose is enduring his first winter in Canberra as senior adviser, engineering, for the Australian Trucking Association (ATA), after moving from Daimler Trucks in Melbourne.

It had got down to -7 degrees Celsius when Owner//Driver recently spoke with Loose, but that’s nothing for Australian truck operators compared with their northern hemisphere cousins.

Radiator coolant, containing the antifreeze agent ethylene glycol, may be essential in Sweden or Canada, but we don’t need its antifreeze properties in Australia.

It’s anti-boil properties are handy though, along with numerous other benefits. Tap water is a no-no for radiators.

There has been plenty of industry discussion in Australia about the heat problems presented by exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) emissions systems, as opposed to selective catalytic reduction (SCR), which has its own issues of course.

"People have suffered a little bit with the EGR engines because they do put increased loads on the cooling system as opposed to the SCR solution for the emissions control," Loose says.

"And some of those EGR installations have been better than others."

"All engines are different and all cooling systems are different," he adds.

But Loose points out that operators themselves often make it harder for the cooling system to do its job.

"They’ll put a bullbar up front, they’ll put signage on the front; they’ll put spotlights on the front – all closely coupled because of length restrictions, and that doesn’t allow the air circulating around those components to get through the radiator."

Loose asks do you really need four driving lights? Will two do? Modern LED lighting takes up less space again.

Cool air getting in is one thing, hot air getting out and past the vehicle is another.

Loose says the prime example is dangerous goods prime movers. They not only have fully shrouded exhausts and mufflers, but a lot of the chassis and cab section is covered to prevent splashing of fuel onto any hot surface.

Fully sealed checker deck plate might go right across the top of the chassis.

Combine that with fuel tanks all along the sides and not only does it impact on the cooling system, but the extra heat can affect the wiring and transmission and oils as well.

"It creates quite a huge heat affected zone around the drive shaft and transmission," Loose laments.

So non-dangeorus goods operators with an eye for appearance need to remember that while checker plate looks good, it also restricts air flow in that area.


Sometimes all that truck bling isn't so cool.

Posted by Owner Driver on Friday, 7 August 2015

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