What is coolant? Coolant is an important fluid that allows heat transfer to regulate the temperature of the engine block and parts. No matter if you have a used or new car, having the required engine coolant is crucial. It contains additives to ensure it stays below 32 degrees F, but also doesn’t evaporate above 212 degrees F. Read on to learn more about how to check coolant levels and when to change it!
What to Look for
Checking your coolant fluid level is easy – you don’t even need to open your radiator cap. Simply take a look at the side of your reservoir and you should see markings indicating the fluid levels. As long as the coolant reaches the “full” marking line, you’re good to go. If it doesn’t, remove the radiator cap and then add either the coolant or a 50/50 mix of coolant/water. Check your coolant bottle to see if it’s premixed or if you need to mix it yourself. It’s also a good idea to also inspect the hoses connected to the radiator for any leaks or damage.
Note: Before adding more liquid to the cooling system, be sure the engine has cooled. Also, don’t attempt to open the radiator cap while the engine is hot.
When to See a Service Technician
Coolant has a unique viscosity that is thinner than oil but thicker than water. If your coolant begins to have a sludgy appearance instead, you will want to schedule service ASAP. More than likely your car has developed an internal gasket leak. Driving is possible, but a leaking gasket will drain the coolant quickly. This leak means the engine is at risk of overheating and being severely damaged.
When to Change Coolant
Make a habit of checking up on the cooling system every three to six months, as coolant levels will deplete over time. Coolant usually comes in a blue, green, yellow, or red color. If it’s brownish or even colorless, flush the system and replace the fluid.
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