Misleading by name, yet vital to the life of your car, antifreeze/coolant plays a critical role year-round in the healthy function of your vehicle, providing protection against overheating in the hot summer months as well as freeze protection in the cold winter.
Jay Buckley, technical training manager for Honeywell Consumer Products Group, answers the top antifreeze questions on consumers' minds.
When do I need to have my antifreeze/coolant changed?
Change intervals can vary from vehicle to vehicle, from every 2 to 5 years, or 58,000-240,000 kilometres, whichever comes first. Always consult your owner's manual for the proper change interval for your specific vehicle.
Is a flush necessary when changing my antifreeze/coolant?
When changing coolant, it's smart to do a complete flush. Just draining the system will not remove all of the coolant. If a full flush can't be carried out, then the proper amount of a fully concentrated coolant should be added into the system before adding water. This will ensure the cooling system is completely full with the proper mixture of antifreeze/coolant and water. Make sure all the air is out of the system to avoid corrosion.
Question: How do I “top up” my antifreeze/coolant?
Nearly all vehicles today are equipped with a pressurized coolant recovery system. Part of this system is a plastic coolant expansion tank. It is usually located near the front of the engine compartment and is pressurized and connected to the rest of cooling system with a hose. You can monitor the coolant level by observing the coolant level in the expansion tank, and top up if necessary, according to instructions provided by the vehicle manufacturer in the owner's manual or by the coolant supplier on the antifreeze/coolant label. Just be sure not to remove the expansion tank cap or the actual radiator cap when the engine is hot.