What You Should Know About Coolant
Everyone knows that you need to check and change your oil regularly, but do you know that it is just as important to check your coolant (antifreeze) level and condition? During the winter, coolant lowers the freezing point to protect the fluid from freezing and protects the engine from overheating (your car’s engine can produce 4500 degrees of cylinder heat!). Coolant also protects the engine and the cooling system from corrosion.
Over time, the coolant can become contaminated with harmful deposits. When we do a Freeze Protection Test, we test the coolant for the temperature at which the coolant freezes. In addition, we check the coolant level and condition. If the coolant level is low, we will add additional coolant. We check condition of the coolant by the “smell test” – as the coolant becomes contaminated, it will have a strong “rotten egg” smell that lets us know it is time to flush the system and add new coolant.
The new improved coolants are made of compounds that can last 5-6 years, or 100,000 miles, before requiring a coolant flush. Older vehicles, before year 2000, should have coolant flushes every 2 years or every 30,000 miles. However, be sure and have the coolant level checked in between flushes (which we do routinely with every oil change).
When adding coolant, it is important to know which type of coolant your vehicle requires and ONLY use that coolant. Green used to be the only color coolant, but things have changed and coolant comes in many brands (OEM, like Honda, Ford, GM, etc. and aftermarket) and a rainbow of colors: gold, red, orange, yellow, blue, purple, and green, to name a few!
Just using color to determine the type of coolant to use in your vehicle is not reliable; be sure and check your vehicle Owner’s Manual to find out what specific brand of coolant is required by your vehicle manufacturer. Mixing two different coolants can result in the coolant turning into a gel-like substance, which can cause significant problems!
Can the cooling system develop leaks? Yes. Leaks can develop if the radiator cracks, and leaks can occur in the hoses, seals and/or water pump. It is always a good idea to watch the surface under where you normally park your vehicle. Any puddles that continually show up are an indication that something is leaking fluid and is a problem that should be addressed.
Both overheating (creating steam and extreme pressure) and freezing (fluid expansion) are undesirable occurrences in your engine. Overheating can crack or warp the heads and/or seize the engine, resulting in severe engine damage. This is one more example where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – checking or flushing the coolant is cheap insurance to prevent expensive engine damage!
Let us give your vehicle a cooling system inspection and certificate of good health! We want to keep you driving safely on the road this winter. From our team at Honest Accurate Auto Service, we wish you safe driving all year long!