Extreme temperatures can affect your vehicle if you do not take care of your antifreeze or coolant levels. Regular maintenance checks and troubleshooting if a problem occurs ensure your car’s temperature stays cool and your vehicle runs smoothly. Read on for the ultimate guide to antifreeze.
When To Use Antifreeze
Antifreeze is the colored liquid (usually blue or pink) found in your car’s radiator. The solution regulates the temperature of the water in the radiator and the engine to prevent freezing in the winter and boiling over in the summer. Antifreeze also acts as a lubricant for the moving parts of the coolant system, such as the water pump.
The general suggestion is to check your antifreeze levels and condition every 2 to 3 months or every 3,000 miles. That being said, you should consult your owner’s manual to see if your vehicle has specific maintenance instructions. It is not a bad idea to check your antifreeze as the seasons change and either extreme heat or cold is approaching.
Antifreeze vs Coolant
Although people often use the terms interchangeably, antifreeze and coolant are two different things. Antifreeze is mainly composed of ethylene glycol, a liquid that does not expire and lowers the freezing temperature of your radiator. Coolant is made when you dilute antifreeze with water, creating a 50/50 solution. This solution allows the antifreeze to keep your radiator cool in hot temperatures.
You can buy either antifreeze and dilute it with water yourself or can get a pre-mixed 50/50 coolant solution. Maintain consistency with what products you put in your car and avoid mixing different brands or colors. Ultimately, follow what experts recommend for your vehicle for optimal performance.
Antifreeze Tips and Troubleshooting
Dealing with engine or radiator problems can be tricky. Follow the tips below when navigating antifreeze issues:
- Do not alter the 50/50 ratio of water to antifreeze by adding more water to your radiator, except for rare emergencies.
- Never add coolant to a hot engine, even in an emergency. Wait until the engine has cooled off to avoid hot coolant shooting out at you.
- If you check your coolant and it is colorless or has rust or objects floating in it, you need to thoroughly flush the cooling system and add a new 50/50 mixture.
- Take your vehicle to a mechanic if the antifreeze has sludge or oil on the surface so they can check for internal head gasket leakage.
- If you notice your coolant reservoir overflowing, first check its levels to make sure it is not too full. If the levels are acceptable, check the radiator cap and replace it if it is loose or damaged.
Taking care of your car’s antifreeze levels, in turn, ensures your radiator and engine are well maintained and regulated. Be sure to check and refill your coolant as necessary for your specific vehicle, especially as the heat of summer or the chill of winter approaches. Shop online to find the right products for your car and drive safely this season.