Engine coolant or antifreeze is essential to keeping your car at an appropriate temperature, from preventing freezing to raising its boiling point to avoid overheating. Not all types of coolants are created equal, and choosing an inappropriate type could lead to corrosion, gelling, or shortening its lifespan – ultimately shortening its lifecycle and costing more money in repairs than expected.
What is Coolant?
Coolant is a mixture of antifreeze and water designed to prevent your car’s engine from overheating. The liquid is either green or orange in hue, with antifreeze components identified by their presence (ethylene glycol or propylene glycol). Coolant plays an integral part in your cooling system, and it’s vitally important to check and top up levels regularly.
Your car’s cooling system uses a water pump to circulate coolant through its system and absorb any engine heat before going through an additional cooling stage at the radiator before returning into circulation to continue its cycle of cooling your engine before repeating itself through your cooling system. This helps prevent overheating, which could otherwise damage internal components and void your warranty.
Your cooling system should be flushed regularly with fresh fluid as the owner’s manual recommends to protect its components, including your water pump and other essential parts such as valves. Doing this will protect its vital interests.
Older coolants may become acidic over time and cause irreparable harm to water pumps, radiators, and other car components, so it’s crucial to flush and replace these parts regularly with new coolants to protect them and avoid further corrosion damage. Flushing also helps prevent overheating that could ruin engine components over time.
What is Antifreeze?
Antifreeze is used in your cooling system to prevent water from freezing in your radiator and other parts of the car during cold weather, raising its boiling point so it does not overheat in summer months and adding corrosion inhibitors that protect it from rusting.
Antifreeze comes in various forms, from concentrated solutions that need to be mixed with water before use to pre-mixed options that can be used immediately. Chemical composition varies; typically comprised of either ethylene or propylene glycol with additional inhibitors, they come in an assortment of colors ranging from green to blue to bright pink hues.
Finding a product tailored specifically to your vehicle model and climate conditions is essential. Older types of coolant made from sugar and honey were simply inadequate under harsh environmental conditions.
Antifreeze should be added to a car’s coolant reservoir or radiator; consult your owner’s manual for exact location and instructions. It is vital to have enough antifreeze and engine coolant available so that your car can operate effectively in both hot and cold climates without risk of overheating or freezing, otherwise leaving you stranded and needing costly repairs or even scrapping altogether. Therefore, periodically flushing and refilling your cooling system with fresh coolant and antifreeze may be worthwhile.
How to Check Your Coolant Levels
Most cars feature a transparent reservoir tank (pictured above) for their coolant system, and you can easily see its level by looking. Low and high markings will usually be on its side; its level should always lie between those marks. But be wary: opening it until after your engine has thoroughly cooled could result in hot coolant spraying out from underneath your radiator cap, potentially scalding you with hot fluid! Plus, opening while hot can cause pressure in its system to rise rapidly enough that the door’s cap, while under pressure, causes it to burst, forcing it to explode and spray out instead.
Make sure that you purchase the appropriate antifreeze for your vehicle. Your owner manual should guide which antifreeze type fits best, though an auto parts store or mechanic can assist. Older green-colored antifreeze may still be available but is less effective than more modern orange or even blue antifreeze varieties.
Suitable coolants should have a freeze point of around minus 35 degrees Fahrenheit; if yours doesn’t meet this standard, it may be time for an update. When changing over your antifreeze, ensure all old coolant has been flushed from the radiator and reservoir tanks before adding new stuff; once mixed 50/50 with distilled water, it should be ready.
How to Change Your Coolant
As cars have evolved, manufacturers have added different types of antifreeze to their engines. To help differentiate among them and brands more efficiently, manufacturers added colored dyes with specific meanings for each antifreeze type or brand – this way, consumers can quickly tell apart these coolants and identify which vehicles they may work well with.
Antifreeze comes in various hues – green, blue, and pink are among the most frequently seen varieties – with most consisting of water mixed with propylene or ethylene glycol that lowers its freezing point while increasing its boiling point, helping prevent overheating in summer and freezing in winter.
Changing engine coolant regularly is crucial to maintaining optimal conditions in your car’s cooling system, including maintaining ideal radiator temperatures, protecting and lubricating parts, and providing corrosion inhibitors to protect metal components against rusting or corrosion.
Seek advice from your vehicle’s handbook regarding when and how often to replace its antifreeze. Over time, antifreeze can degrade and become acidic, damaging both engine and cooling system components significantly.
Before draining and refilling your engine coolant, remove the radiator cap to allow air to escape – this helps avoid mixing old and new antifreeze. Drain all old coolant into a container for safe disposal before replacing it with fresh antifreeze.
In conclusion, determining the right antifreeze for your car is a critical aspect of vehicle maintenance that directly influences its performance and longevity. The specific type of antifreeze required depends on factors such as the make, model, and year of your vehicle and the climate in which you drive.