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What Is Electrolysis And Is It Dangerous?

If your vehicle has unusual problems with the radiator and cooling system, it might be because of a process called electrolysis. Simply put, electrolysis corrodes the thin metal that the radiator is made of and causes it to leak and malfunction. As its name implies, electric current goes through parts where it isn't supposed to be, and over time it starts to damage them. 

Electrolysis Explained

The most common problem that causes damage to the radiator is electrolysis. Energy from ungrounded parts or bad wiring travels to the thin metal pipes, which contain and cool the coolant fluid. Because of that, a process called corrosion starts, deteriorating the pipes and causing further problems. 

Another reason can be the difference in electrical resistance of the different parts in your vehicle's cooling system. Different metals and alloys withstand only a certain amount of electric current before they start to get damaged.

How Can It Occur

Simply put, the most common reason is poor or no grounding. This leads to electricity flowing through parts and fluids in the cooling system. Some of the reasons for grounding problems include:

  • Bad or tampered wiring
  • Insufficient recent repairs
  • Damaged or shorted relays
  • Incorrect installation of parts in the cooling system
  • Bad connection and isolation between different metals and alloys

Symptoms Of Electrolysis 

If you want to know how to spot starting signs of electrolysis before it gets serious, here are some of them to look out for:

  • Aluminum peeling and puncturing with little holes similar to the skin of an orange.
  • Damaged, melted, or burnet hoses
  • Holes no bigger than a pin
  • Leaks near the manifold, only if it is plastic
  • Low coolant pH 

If you notice any of these, we advise you to visit a repair shop as soon as possible, so you aren't left with an overheating engine or worse.

How To Fix/Prevent Electrolysis

Wondering how to fix this problem? Well, the best way is by going into a repair shop for an inspection, so they can figure out where the excess electricity is coming from. Then, they will change any faulty wiring or relays and check for sufficient grounding of all electrical parts.

If you want to prevent the radiator and cooling system from experiencing electrolysis, we recommend regular inspections at a repair shop to terminate any problem that might start to occur. The DIY solution is to measure your coolant pH every month or so - or to use a stray current test meter for any excess electricity passing through. 

Radiator and Cooling System Repairs in Baltimore, MD!

At Apple Auto, we offer a wide variety of procedures, from radiator and cooling system repairs to simpler brake pad replacements and fluid top-offs. If you want to give your care the care it deserves, don't hesitate to stop by.