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Welcome to ASE Certification Training Headquarters! We have everything you need to make your life easier as you begin your career as an Automotive Service Excellence Certified Master Mechanic. State specific training requirements, a step-by-step hiring process, potential employers, and interviews to help you get hired are just some of the helpful things you'll find here.

Coolant Recovery Systems in Automotive Engines

Purpose and Function

Excess pressure usually forces some coolant from the system through an overflow. Most cooling systems connect the overflow to a plastic reservoir to hold excess coolant while the system is hot.

When the system cools, the pressure in the cooling system is reduced and a partial vacuum forms. This vacuum pulls the coolant from the plastic container back into the cooling system, keeping the system full. Because of this action, the system is called a coolant recovery system. A vacuum valve allows coolant to reenter the system as the system cools so that the radiator parts will not collapse under the partial vacuum.

Coolant Recovery System Thermostat Radiator

The level in the coolant recovery system raises and lowers with engine temperature.

Surge Tank

Some vehicles use a surge tank, which is located at the highest level of the cooling system and holds about 1 quart (1 liter) of coolant. A hose attaches to the bottom of the surge tank to the inlet side of the water pump. A smaller bleed hose attaches to the side of the surge tank to the highest point of the radiator. The bleed line allows some coolant circulation through the surge tank, and air in the system will rise below the radiator cap and be forced from the system if the pressure in the system exceeds the rating of the radiator cap.

Surge Tank Cooling System

Some vehicles use a surge tank, which is located at the highest level of the cooling system, with a radiator cap.

Real World Fix: The Collapsed Radiator Hose Story

An automotive student asked the automotive instructor what brand of radiator hose is the best. Not knowing exactly what to say, the instructor asked if there was a problem with the brand hose used. The student had tried three brands and all of them collapsed when the engine cooled. The instructor then explained that the vehicle needed a new pressure cap and not a new upper radiator hose. The student thought that because the lower hose did not collapse that the problem had to be a fault with the hose. The instructor then explained that the lower radiator hose has a spring inside to keep the lower hose from collapsing due to the lower pressure created at the inlet to the water pump. The radiator cap was replaced and the upper radiator hose did not collapse when the engine cooled.

Next Steps towards ASE Certification

Now that you’re familiar with Coolant Recovery Systems and Surge Tanks, try out our free Automotive Service Excellence Tests to see how much you know!