Whether you own a new or used car, checking the coolant is an important maintenance task. Car coolant, or antifreeze, circulates throughout the engine, absorbing the intense heat generated by fast-moving parts. This heat is dissipated when the fluid passes through the car’s radiator. A heat exchanger in the passenger compartment also dissipates coolant.
Coolant should always be filled to a pre-determined level. The ideal level is indicated by your vehicle owner’s manual and by markings on the coolant tank near the engine, under the hood. A mechanic can check the coolant periodically, or you can check and refill coolant yourself.
How to Fill My Coolant
To check your coolant level, open the hood of your car. The coolant reservoir is a small transparent tank. It typically has two lines; one to show the minimum acceptable level of fluid and one to indicate the maximum. If the liquid level is below the minimum line, more coolant should be added.
When you add coolant, first purchase the right kind for your vehicle. There are several different types with different compounds. Some have silicates or propylene glycol, and others don’t, while others incorporate acid technology. Mixing different types of coolant can damage your engine.
To add coolant, shut off the car, and wait until the engine cools down. Not only will it be hot under the hood. The coolant system is pressurized so opening the reservoir can be very dangerous. When things cool down:
- Open the reservoir cap
- Pour the coolant into the opening
- Add fluid until it reaches the fill line
In most cases, you can go ahead and add coolant directly from the container. However, some coolants are concentrated and require you to mix them with distilled water before using.
What If I Neglect My Coolant?
This is a very bad idea. Coolant breaks down over time in the extremely hot engine environment. It also contains rust inhibitors, which will be used up after a while. Once these stop working, the coolant lines passing through the engine and radiator will start to corrode. Rust can start to obstruct these passages and cause debris to break loose within the engine system.
Once the coolant passages are clogged, the engine can overheat. An overheated engine isn’t only a minor inconvenience. The engine can be completely destroyed; fixing it may make your mechanic very happy but, for you, it’s a major drain on your bank account.
It’s therefore extremely important to follow the recommended interval for checking the coolant level. The coolant will likely be at or above the minimum fill line when the engine is cold. Fluid expands with heat, so it should be at or below the maximum line if the engine is hot.
When you notice a decrease in coolant levels, there may be an external leak or a leak within the engine itself, which can be expensive to fix. Both are serious. Regardless of where the leak is, it should be fixed, or you risk catastrophic damage and engine failure.
Find Reliable Used Cars at Hawthorne Auto Square
At Hawthorne Auto Square, you’ll find the best deals on used cars in Los Angeles. Although each vehicle has been thoroughly inspected, proper car maintenance is essential. Check your coolant levels regularly to make sure there are no leaks and the engine is protected. Our service department can even help you perform regular maintenance. For expert assistance and financing on used cars in Hawthorne, even if you have no credit, visit our dealership today.