Drei Vespafahrer auf einer Landstraße bei blauem Himmel und Sonnenschein

Well cooled is half the ride – The cooling system

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While Vespa riders enjoy the cool breeze on a ride in bright sunshine and hot temperatures, the engine ensures that the Vespa moves at all. The engine performs at its best, especially at high outside temperatures. Without cooling, the engine would quickly overheat. To prevent this, there are two different cooling systems for Vespa engines. One is the traditional air-cooled engine, which was only used in the old models, and the other is the water-cooled engine, which was used in all newer models. The big difference between the two systems is very simple and basically already explained in the name. But more about that in the following.

Now obsolete: air-cooled engines

The initial situation for the invention of the Vespa in the post-war period of the Second World War was extremely unfavourable. A simple and affordable scooter was to be made from a few materials. Therefore, air-cooled engines were used. The simple construction ensured that maintenance of the cooling system was not necessary. Whereas with water-cooled engines, failure-prone components such as the water pump, the radiator or the hoses should always be maintained, this is simply not necessary with air-cooled engines.
The airstream alone ensures that the engine is cooled accordingly. Typical of the style of air-cooled Vespa engines is the cylinder head with its cooling fins. The increased surface area allows greater heat dissipation. Furthermore, the air-cooled engine reaches operating temperature very quickly, which is a great advantage especially in city traffic and on short trips.

Modern radiators are the ideal solution

However, it is no coincidence that only water-cooled Vespa engines are supplied nowadays. A significant disadvantage of air-cooled engines is the significantly increased noise level. Water cooling isolates the engine somewhat during operation, which reduces noise emissions enormously. In addition, water cooling means a constant engine temperature at different speeds or loads. This significantly reduces the exhaust gases emitted by the engine. In times of ever stricter exhaust emission standards and increasing environmental burdens, this is an environmentally friendly alternative to air-cooled classic cars.

While driving, a display usually ensures that the driver is aware of the temperature level. During normal operation, the pointer should never go into the red zone. Ideally, the temperature should not exceed 100 degrees Celsius, even during longer journeys. On hot summer days and on mountainous terrain, however, the temperature can rise above this for a short time and cause the fan to start. As long as this is not a permanent condition, it is not a problem.

The only disadvantage worth mentioning, as already mentioned, is the maintenance requirement of a cooling system with water. Necessary components such as the water pump, radiator or hoses are subject to constant wear and require regular inspection. The coolant level should be checked and the coolant replaced at regular intervals, depending on the mileage. Over time, the coolant loses its cooling properties, making replacement unavoidable.

Easy and uncomplicated replacement

However, replacing the coolant is not witchcraft and should not cause drops of sweat on the forehead even of inexperienced Vespa mechanics. The operating instructions for each scooter specify the appropriate coolant, which can be easily ordered from a specialist garage or from SIP Scootershop. All you have to do is make sure you use the correct mixing ratio so that the fluid does not freeze even in sub-zero temperatures. Depending on where you live, you should always leave a certain buffer. If the coolant freezes in the engine, it expands and can burst hoses and damage the radiator or pump. Also, do not use tap water for mixing. The limescale it contains causes seals and hoses to become porous. Instead, distilled water should be used, which does not have these negative properties.

Regular checks are necessary

Experts always advise you to take a quick look at the cooling hoses every time you clean your Vespa. If they are porous or come loose at certain points, you can quickly prevent coolant from leaking out. This standard check can also be carried out easily by beginners.

Especially with newer scooters, it is recommended to have a service carried out at regular intervals. Despite distilled water and suitable fluids, various substances build up in the cooling system over time, which can only be properly removed by a specialist workshop by means of flushing.

The cooling system should always be in good condition so that the Vespa can cool down with a cool breeze even at maximum performance. Not only the rider but also the engine likes it cool, even if the definition of cool for the engine is different.

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