Whether you’re getting ready for a long road trip or just driving to work every day, your car needs coolant to get you where you need to go. People always talk about changing the oil, but you never hear about changing the coolant.
Does that mean, though, that you shouldn’t change it? And what do you do if you don’t have enough coolant? The truth is that you do need to change your coolant every so often. Also, it’s important to change it with the right coolant and in the right way, or you might do more harm than good.
There are three types of coolants that are easy to find. Inorganic Additive Technology (IAT), Organic Acid Technology (OAT), and Hybrid Organic Acid Technology are the names of these coolants (HOAT).
From a driver’s point of view, the only thing that really matters about these names is how often they usually need to be serviced. IAT antifreeze is usually found in older cars and usually needs to be changed every 24,000 to 40,000 miles.
Most OAT and HOAT antifreeze can last up to 100,000 miles before it needs to be changed. But the service intervals that the manufacturer recommends are often shorter. Make sure to get your car serviced at the intervals suggested by the manufacturer, or you could lose your warranty.
What Coolant Should I Buy?
See what the owner’s manual says. It will say what kind of coolant your car’s cooling system can handle. If you don’t have an owner’s manual, you can look online to find out what kind of coolant your car needs.
Don’t get the wrong kind of coolant for your car. You can’t “upgrade” an IAT system to one that uses OAT or HOAT. Before you buy any coolant, you should check to see if it will work in your car. That’s because, even though there are three types of coolant, many automakers make their own special blends for each car.
The Three Best Brands
Best for IAT systems:
There’s a reason why it’s Amazon’s best-selling item. It’s a great deal for such a great product. They come in both concentrate and ready-to-use forms, and they fit just about every older car. Zerex also sells antifreeze for cars that are not as old. Even though we recommend different products for those systems, if you do end up using a Zerex coolant, you’ll still be fine.
Best for OAT systems:
This antifreeze lasts a long time and costs very little.
You get a 5-year, 100,000-mile warranty when you use this AC Delco formula with an OAT coolant system. This is because the formula for this coolant is made just for newer cooling systems. It’s cheap antifreeze that works for a long time. This coolant DOES need to be mixed, which lets you use it better in your area.
Best for HOAT systems:
This coolant for your car comes with a 10-year guarantee.
It’s already mixed, and the company guarantees it for 10 years or 300,000 miles. This Dex-Cool recipe is the best way to make a coolant that works for a long time. Don’t buy anything else if this coolant works for your car. It’s already mixed in a 50/50 ratio, so all you have to do is put it in your car and drive away.
Should I Get the Manufacturer Brand Coolant?
Antifreeze is just a mix of ethylene glycol, and it doesn’t matter who made it as long as you get the right mix. The price tag is the only thing that’s different between the coolant your dealership sells and the one you can buy on Amazon.
You should only use coolant made by the car’s maker if you have to because of a warranty. If that’s the case, make sure to keep your receipt, even if the maintenance was done by the dealership. Dealerships and warranty companies are known for trying to get out of the warranty, and you need receipts to show that you did what you agreed to do.
What Color Coolant Do I Need?
If you’ve never changed the coolant before, get the coolant that the owner’s manual says to use. Colors used to mean a lot, but these days, the colour of the coolant doesn’t really mean much.
That’s because the main thing that affects the colour of your coolant is what brand of coolant you use, not what chemicals are in it. So, check your owner’s manual to see what kind of coolant your engine needs and go from there. Don’t worry about the colour.
What Type of Coolant Do I Need?
Checking your owner’s manual is the easiest way to find out what kind of coolant your car needs. If you don’t have the owner’s manual, you can look online to find out what kind of antifreeze you need. In general, IAT antifreeze is used in older cars. Newer ones, on the other hand, use either OAT or HOAT antifreeze.
When Should I Fill Up My Coolant?
People talk a lot about getting their oil changed, but when was the last time you heard someone talk about replacing their coolant? Just like the oil in your car, the antifreeze breaks down over time. If you don’t replace it, it can do a lot of damage to your car.
Your owner’s manual tells you how often you should change your coolant, but it’s usually between 30,000 and 60,000 miles. But these ranges can be very different from one car to the next, and some cars say the coolant should be changed every 150,000 miles. Obviously, if you lose coolant because of a leak, you’ll need to add more. This does not reset your service interval unless you are refilling the whole system.
Where Should I Store My Coolant?
Make sure that kids and pets can’t get to your coolant wherever you keep it. This is because antifreeze is very dangerous.
In fact, antifreeze is so dangerous that in 2005, the U.S. government made it a law that all antifreeze had to be made with a bittering agent. Without that bittering agent, antifreeze had a sweet taste, and it was also very dangerous. This was a very dangerous mix.
Aside from that, you should always keep the lid on your coolant, even if you don’t think anyone or anything will get into it. That’s because if you don’t seal your coolant well, water or other chemicals from the outside could get into it.
You don’t have to worry too much about storage temperatures. Most of the time, it’s fine to keep antifreeze in your car or garage. But you should know that the freezing point of antifreeze concentrate is much higher than that of mixed coolant.
Because of this, if you live in a place where it gets very cold at certain times of the year, you need to keep your antifreeze in a place where it won’t freeze.
How Long Can I Store Coolant?
If you have antifreeze concentrate that hasn’t been mixed with water, as long as it’s in its original, sealed container, it will last forever. Even if you have opened the antifreeze, it doesn’t matter as long as you seal it properly before putting it away.
If the seal isn’t airtight, water will get in and ruin the antifreeze. If you put antifreeze in a container that doesn’t seal well, you should throw it away after a few days.
If you buy antifreeze already mixed, it will only work for one to five years. This is written on the package by the maker so you know how long you can keep it.
What Does It Mean if I Keep Running Out of Coolant?
Your cooling system is a sealed system, so you shouldn’t ever run out of coolant. If your coolant level keeps going down, it could mean one of two things.
First, it could be leaking outside of your engine. This should be pretty easy to find, since your car will be leaking under it.
Obviously, if you’re losing coolant but can’t find a leak outside the engine, it’s going inside. If you have a leak inside the car, you can usually see it in the smoke coming out of the tailpipe. If your engine is burning coolant, the smoke will be white no matter what colour the coolant is.
Also, your engine might be smoking, and this smoke will also be white. Most of the time, a blown head gasket is the cause of an engine that burns coolant. But you’ll probably need to take your car to a mechanic to find out where the coolant leak is coming from.
What Makes a Good Coolant?
A good coolant has nothing bad in it. The way your coolant cools your engine will depend on what is in it. Antifreeze can break down before it gets to your car because of something as simple as water.
If your car’s cooling system has bad coolant, it will either rust or get too hot. In either case, you’ll have problems that you wouldn’t have if you’d used good antifreeze.
How Do I Fill Up My Coolant?
Before you add coolant to your car, you need to check what kind of coolant you have. You bought antifreeze that was already mixed, or do you have to mix it yourself? Adding more coolant to your car is easy if you bought pre-mixed coolant that matches what is already in your car.
All you have to do is take the cap off the top of the coolant reservoir and add coolant until the fill line is reached. If it hasn’t already been mixed, add distilled water until it’s 50/50 or 60/40. (see below on how to determine what ratio you need). Once the ingredients are mixed, you can add coolant until the fill line.
If you’re not just topping off fluids, the process is a little different. That’s because you need to make sure that your cooling system doesn’t have any air pockets. If you can, fill up your radiator and engine before you fill up your coolant reservoir.
Make sure the cap on your coolant reservoir is off before you fill these ports. The air needs a way to get out. Some engines need the whole system to be filled from the reservoir, and they have a bleeder valve somewhere in the system to let air out.
On some engines, you have to push the air out of the hoses as you fill the reservoir. No matter what you do, you have to get the air out or your engine will end up getting too hot.
What Should I Mix My Coolant With?
You should always use distilled water to mix coolant. Don’t use water from the tap or any other type of filtered water. Because the chemicals in your water, even if it has been filtered, can hurt your car’s cooling system.
The chemicals in your water will make your car rust as it sits. Seals and gaskets will wear out because of this corrosion, so the car will need repairs.
How Much Water Should I Add to My Coolant?
Most of the time, where you live will determine the best ratio of antifreeze to water for your car. Even if your climate is warm, you want at least a 10/90 ratio (10 percent antifreeze, 90 percent water).
But this mixture freezes at 26 degrees Fahrenheit, so if your car is in a place that gets that cold, you should use a different ratio. The freezing point of each antifreeze mixture is shown in the chart below.
If you’re not sure, play it safe. If your coolant freezes, you will have to replace the whole cooling system.
You should know that your cooling system will work better to cool your engine if you use less antifreeze.
What Will Happen if I Don’t Mix My Coolant?
You might think that adding pure antifreeze is better than a mixed blend because a stronger mixture of coolant and water makes the mixture less likely to freeze. This is completely wrong.
Even though it won’t freeze as easily as a pure 50/50 mix, it won’t cool your engine as well. Also, you’ll get the lowest freezing point if you mix your antifreeze so that 40% of it is water and 60% is antifreeze. When you run straight antifreeze, you get a freezing point that is much higher than when you mix it with water.
If you have pure antifreeze in an engine, you need to change it right away. When compared to a 50/50 mix, an engine that runs on pure antifreeze will lose about 35% of its ability to cool.
A hotter engine will wear out faster, which will cost you more money and cause you more trouble.
What to Do If You Accidentally Mix Coolants
When you mix coolants, you get a huge headache. That’s because you need to flush your system to fix it. That means you need to get rid of all the coolant in your cooling system and put in new coolant.
But it’s important to get rid of all the mixed coolant before putting in the new coolant. To do this, you need to run the new coolant through the whole system a few times, draining and throwing away the old coolant each time.
When doing the next flush, many mechanics will use water to save a little money, but this will leave a little extra water in your cooling system. That means that when you add the right amount of coolant to water, you’ll end up with a little too much water.
Even though this isn’t a big deal in most parts of the world, it could be a disaster if you live somewhere that gets very cold.
What Will Happen If You Mix Coolants
Each kind of coolant has its own kind of ethylene-glycol components. If you mix different kinds of coolants, the system won’t cool as well. This doesn’t mean you can’t mix different BRANDS of coolant; it means you can’t mix different KINDS of coolant
When it comes to brands, everything is the same as long as the company that makes the coolant makes sure it doesn’t have any bad things in it. So, choose one of our best choices and you can’t go wrong!
What Does It Mean If There Is Other Stuff in My Coolant?
When you check your coolant, you might find something in it that shouldn’t be there. Most of the time, rust is what you’ll find in your coolant.
If your coolant system has rust, it’s too late to fix it. Find the part that has rusted and replace it. Scary thing is that it means your coolant has already gone bad, and you probably don’t just need to replace one part.
If you find oil or other fluids from the engine in your coolant, it means that a seal has broken.
No matter what you find in your coolant, you’ll need to fix the broken or worn-out parts and then flush the whole cooling system. It might be a pain, but it’s better than your car breaking down on the side of the road!
Frequently Asked Questions:
What Kind of Coolant Does My Car Use?
Checking your owner’s manual is the easiest way to find this information. If you don’t have your car’s owner’s manual, it will tell you what kind of coolant your car needs as long as you haven’t filled it wrong in the past. look online to see if you can find one.
Can I Just Add Coolant to My Car?
NO! Before putting it in your car, you need to mix the coolant with water. If you’re just adding more coolant, you don’t need to drain the old coolant, but it does need to be mixed. Most of the time, these mixtures are 50/50 water and coolant, but you should always check with the brand of coolant you are using.
What Happens When You Run Out of Coolant?
If you don’t use coolant in your car, it will get too hot and break. If your car’s sensors are working right, your engine will turn off before it does any serious damage when it gets too hot. Before your engine will start again, it will need to cool down. Even on a cool day, this can take a few hours.