What is a Safety Lever Radiator Cap?

by | Mar 18, 2016 | Electronics and Electrical

When it comes to your car’s cooling system, there are numerous components that must work in perfect synchronicity to keep your engine at the proper temperature. From the coolant reservoir, the automotive thermostat, to the radiator, each piece must work efficiently and correctly to avoid any major issues with your engine in the long term. One of the most overlooked and underestimated parts of this system is the radiator cap. There are multiple types, but today we will be looking at the safety lever radiator cap and how it can be much more beneficial than a standard cap.

Radiator Basics
The cooling system of your car works by pumping coolant into the engine to keep it at an optimal temperature. However, since the engine gets extremely hot, the coolant quickly heats up, and must be re-cooled to be recycled through the system again. The re-cooling of the liquid happens at the radiator. Usually, the liquid is cooled by air passing through the radiator as the car drives. Once it has reached its ideal temp, it then moves back to the coolant reservoir to restart the process.

During this cooling process, however, the liquid expands as it heats up. This, in turn, causes the pressure in the system to rise. Usually, though, the cooling system operates at a higher pressure (usually about 15psi) to increase the boiling point of the liquid. This is where the safety lever radiator cap comes in. The radiator cap is already used to maintain pressure in the system, as well as allow for the release of overheated coolant should it significantly increase the overall pressure.

Safety Lever Radiator Cap Basics
For most cooling systems, the radiator cap is a simple device that attaches to the top of the radiator. However, due to the heat and pressurization of the system, removing this cap can be dangerous, especially if the car has just been running. To minimize this danger, a safety lever radiator cap allows removal of the cap by de-pressurizing the system. The way this works is that the lever controls the pressure; release the lever, release the pressure. The benefit of using this type of cap is that the pressure is relieved before the cap is removed, so the danger of hot coolant spraying out is reduced.

Typically, safety lever radiator caps are used in environments where multiple people are working on the engine or have to work on it shortly after the car has been running. For example, racing teams usually use this type of cap to minimize danger when working on the car during and after a race. However, safety is always critical, so it may be a good idea to install on your vehicle as well.

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