What Is Engine Coolant?
How To Make Your Car Last Longer Series
Engine coolant, or antifreeze, is usually a blend of 50% antifreeze and 50% water. The engine coolant absorbs heat from the engine and dissipates it through the radiator. It is the reason your car doesn’t overheat. Coolant protects your engine from boiling hot weather, and freezing cold weather, and needs to be checked or changed just like everything else.
This series is all about how to make your car last longer because we all know car failures are so annoying! Draining and refilling your engine coolant will remove the dirt and rust from within your system, helping to protect the engine from getting clogged and overheating. If you have ever driven a car, and it started smoking, of course, you want to pull over immediately, but odds are your engine coolant level is out of wack.
You can glance over your coolant container every time you open your hood. It is very easy to find, and thanks to the clear container, it is very easy to determine the level; Only check the fluid when your car temperature is COLD.
Never, and I repeat, NEVER check the engine coolant level when your engine is hot. Sometimes when you open the reservoir cap or radiator cap while the car is still warm, the pressure released will cause the fluid to jump out, and can cause severe burns or irritation. Therefore, only check this area when the car engine is cold to the touch.
Once you’ve located your coolant reservoir, check from the outside (or you can open the cap and check the inside) to see if it is full. There will be a minimum and maximum line on the outside of the container, and you want the coolant fluid to be somewhere between them. If your engine is hot, the level will be closer to the maximum line, and if the engine is cold, the level will be closer to the minimum line. You never want your coolant fluid to be under or over those lines.
Make sure to read thru your owners manual to learn which coolant your car takes. If the level is low, you can purchase antifreeze at any auto store to refill. Using a funnel, refill the fluid straight into the reservoir, but only up to the maximum line (or slightly under). If you overfill the fluid, once the car heats up, it will cause the fluid to expand and will create a slight explosion of antifreeze all over your engine. Not a good idea!
Ok, so to recap, only check your coolant level when the car engine is cold. Check the level, or, at least, glance at the container, twice yearly. Once before summer, and once before winter. Replace the coolant, which can be done at any mechanics shop, every 2-3 years. Engine coolant shouldn’t drain a whole lot, so if you are refilling the level quite often, or your car overheats, you might have a crack in the container that needs to be replaced.
We are trying to prolong the life of our car, not cut it short. Let’s prevent overheating engines and check the coolant level! If you can’t find the coolant container, or have any questions about antifreeze, comment below or watch these videos from LifeHacker on car fluids. You can also check out my previous article on checking the air filter. Up next in this series, I will discuss the brake fluid.