What To Look For When Replacing A Fluid Reservoir
Howdy, this is Lemmy with Dorman Products, here to talk to you today about our fluid reservoirs. While a fluid reservoir isn’t the sexiest auto part in the world, they are incredibly important.
Every vehicle needs to carry an adequate supply of different fluids in order to function. Think about your own car. You’ve likely got a coolant reservoir, a washer fluid reservoir, probably a power steering reservoir and a brake fluid reservoir, too. And Dorman makes all of them. Heck, we even offer universal coolant expansion bottles for those plumbing-up custom or non-automotive cooling systems.
We build the best fluid tanks you can buy. Quality matters here. Imagine your loved ones in a car with a brake fluid reservoir that wasn’t up to the job. Seems like a crazy place to shortcut quality, doesn’t it?
Even a simple thing like washer fluid bottle plays an important role. Anyone living in the Salt Belt of the USA knows how quickly ice and salt can cut vision to nothing on a snowy day. A few squirts of wiper fluid immediately improves visibility, and thus safety.
Or consider something like a coolant overflow tank. Under high pressure, these can cause massive scalds, putting anyone near the bottle at risk, including DIY mechanics, pro wrenches, pedestrians involved in vehicular collisions, as well as first responders who may need underhood access in the event of an accident.
However, all fluid tanks are not created equal. We perform stringent testing on OEM units here at Dorman, as well as on our own pieces and those of our competitors. For something as basic as a container that contains fluid, you’d think it would be simple to build one of high quality, but as in most things, the devil’s in the details.
So today, I want to walk you through two parts. An interchange may tell you these parts are equivalent, but your own two eyes (and our testing) should tell you that they certainly are not equal.
This particular part holds the coolant in some larger Fords (three-quarter ton and one-ton trucks and Excursions), so it’s a pretty common unit. I want to start here at the cap.
First, caps are included on nearly all of our fluid reservoirs. You may not find that with the competition. Our competition has put a Ford number onto this cap, which is a bit disingenuous, because this cap doesn’t perform like OE equipment.
The cap is actually a safety device, since a modern coolant reservoir actually holds pressure, instead of the old days where it served just as an expansion tank. The Society of Automotive Engineers develop standards for various parts of a car. For this style cap, Standard J151, specifies that a cap must be rotated at least one and a half turns after pressure releases. This prevents someone from accidentally opening the cap too far before the pressure is released and being scalded with the hot steam.
But this cap? It doesn’t even make it one and a half turns from being fastened. We perform rad cap pressure tests on all our units. Note in our testing facility how fast our engineer’s hand is blown away from the container when we put some pressure to it, and listen to how fast the pressure blows off. Now imagine what that hand would look like with some 180° coolant gushing out. Not pretty.
In the exact same test, our cap vents the pressure in a much more controlled manner. And, you actually need to turn ours a few times, providing that critical time between turns for the pressure to subside and save the flesh of an unwitting motorist.
Let’s also talk about how that cap functions. Ours has a nice, positive ratcheting mechanism when it is closed, just like the OEM cap. It lets you know the cap has been tightened sufficiently. Our competitor has no ratcheting function, leaving the possibility of over- or under-tightening wide open.
Next, let’s talk about reservoir strength. Your average cooling system runs around 16 psi or so, but it can spike to maybe 40 pounds. And, sometimes performance-minded individuals nudge that number north by increasing the cap pressure, trying to keep coolant from boiling when an engine is making lots of power and running real hot.
We have a custom-built burst-tester to rigorously vet out the quality of OEM units, our own bottles and the reservoirs of our competition. Our coolant bottles are tested to 100 psi to keep mechanics, medics and other motorists safe. If it doesn’t hold triple digits, it doesn’t go in a Dorman box, it’s that simple.
When we burst test our bottles, we fill them with fluid, and pressurize it to make sure our tanks can take the heat, literally. Ours held up right through testing. And the competition? 20 percent weaker than ours, and we tested some that rang in less than this one did.
How big is that difference after six or eight years in a car, receiving repeated heat cycles? Are they testing to any type of standard, and if they are, why are we finding variances? Testing isn’t inexpensive, but it’s necessary to prevent inconsistent product from hitting the shelves, which is why we do it.
While we’re looking at this part, note how we reinforce our hose barb here with a metal sleeve. That ensures that a leak won’t form at this critical junction, helping keep the work trucks, where this bottle is used, in service and actually working. Now, please remember this is just one single coolant reservoir, but we put the same level of care into all our fluid bottles, whether they hold coolant, washer fluid, brake fluid or power steering fluid.
There are a multitude of reasons to replace fluid reservoirs, which is why we sell so many of them. Whether it’s mechanical impact damage from a collision, etching on the inside of the tank reducing level visibility, or the formation of a simple leak, know that a Dorman tank has been tested for safety and longevity, and will keep motorists, mechanics and medics safe.
Thanks for checking out our video on our fluid reservoirs. And remember, if you need anything at all, the Dorman Technical Support team is always handy to help. I’m Lemmy, and I’m out of here!