Coolant is key to your engines entire operation and does the job of keeping you warm in the winter and keeps your engine at the correct temperature to operate for hundreds of thousands of miles. It is necessary to have coolant in your vehicles engine or else it would not run for very long.
The correct combination of water, antifreeze and coolant additives is essential for your engine to operate at the correct temperature (check your Owner’s Manual for your particular manufacturer’s recommendations). Generally, a 50/50% mixture of antifreeze and water is recommended, which protects against freezing down to -34 degrees and protects up to 263 degrees. Plain water would freeze in your radiator, engine and other components that coolant flows through and stop everything from working! Thus, antifreeze is required.
Coolant, like any other fluid in your car has a lifespan and the more frequently you change it, the fewer breakdowns you will have and the more reliable your car will be for longer. Nothing stays brand new forever. That’s common sense! Coolant does become corrosive and loose it protective capabilities over time. Once this happens rust can begin to occur inside your cooling system causing huge repair bills!
In newer cars, coolant will last for approximately 6 years, or 100,000 miles before it needs to be flushed and replaced. However, it is recommended that in older vehicles (pre-year 2000), coolant should be completely flushed and changed every 2 years, or every 30,000 miles, to maintain effectiveness.
Always pay attention to your instrument cluster. Look every 20 minutes or so to see if a warning light has come on, coolant temperature is spiking, oil pressure is good and is your charging system working. Any one of these could leave you stranded BUT an overheated engine will leave you stranded and looking at very costly repair bill. The BEST thing to do when you see your car beginning to overheat is PULL OVER. The 100-500 tow bill is much cheaper than a five to twenty-thousand dollar engine replacement. Once again, we are talking about common sense. They didn’t teach us that in high school or college, did they? ha-ha!
The most common things that can cause an engine to overheat are:
- Cracked and leaking hoses, loose clamps (anything that results in loss of coolant fluid)
- Defective water pump, cracked and leaking radiator, or defective radiator cap
- Thermostat stuck closed
- Lack of oil and lubrication
- Electric radiator driven cooling fan not operating
- Belt driven cooling fan not operating (usually a loose or broken belt)
- A “blown” head gasket that allows coolant into the combustion chamber or the oil pan
Proper maintenance and inspections will reduce the chance of your car overheating, although certain parts may malfunction with no warning. However, if caught early, the problem may be a relatively simple and inexpensive fix. Hoses, clamps, and thermostats can be replaced. Competent auto repair facilities will inspect all visible cooling system components at each oil change. Trust the folks at Honest Accurate Auto Service to inspect your vehicle!
Regular maintenance every five-thousand miles can help prevent breakdowns!