What is the job of coolant fluid?
It’s the working fluid for the cooling system, which controls the operational condition of the engine. Because the engine is a controlled explosion, it needs to be kept between a specific temperature range for optimal performance. Whether it’s cold or hot outside, the cooling fluid allows the cooling system (including the radiator) to keep the engine and radiator at just the right temperature. Think of this way: coolant fluid is a warm blanket in the winter and a misting fan in the summer.
How does coolant fluid flow through the system?
A car’s coolant system operates on a loop, pumping a mix of water and antifreeze to your radiator to regulate engine temperature. Because coolant absorbs the heat generated by the engine and transports it to the radiator to cool down, it stands to reason that low or weak coolant levels mean its job performance is compromised and your car can overheat.
Why is a coolant fluid exchange so important?
Coolant breaks down like any other engine fluid. Just as motor oil has vital engine performance additives, your coolant has additives that prevent boiling, freezing and corrosion. When these additives are depleted, contaminants and debris can begin to build up on your radiator, affecting its performance. It’s essential to have your coolant fluid exchanged every so often.
How often should a coolant exchange be performed on my vehicle?
Surprise, surprise: vehicles don’t need new coolant over the same time periods. Some vehicles have long-life fluids pre-installed on the assembly line and don’t require servicing as often. So, be happy if you’re one of the lucky ones with longer life fluids. You win.
For all the non-long-life fluid vehicle owners out there, you may require a coolant exchange as frequently as every 30,000 kilometres but no later than 24 months. You can find coolant information—and learn when it needs to be replaced—in your vehicle’s owner’s manual.
What is the benefit of having a coolant fluid exchange performed?
It all boils down to your vehicle operating at an ideal temperature. Old coolant can cause overheating. No coolant or low coolant levels can lead to ugly things, such as blown gaskets, warped cylinder heads and damage to your water pump and radiator. If the temperature gauge creeps upward, don’t ignore the warnings—have your coolant checked out before your system reaches its boiling point.
Get a cooling system flush every 24 months - stay cool.
How does coolant/antifreeze break down?
Time and kilometres—it’s a simple equation. When they’re fresh, the additives in coolant/antifreeze provide protection, inhibiting corrosion (rust) and scale formation in your car’s radiator and engine. Over time, these additives get depleted, and the solution becomes less alkaline, leaving your car vulnerable to costly repairs and even engine failure.
Conventional coolant/antifreeze has the shortest life, but it’s important to remember not all vehicles are compatible with “long life” or “extended life” antifreezes. All coolants, through normal operation, eventually become dirtied and contaminated with debris from your engine’s cooling system. When this happens, the coolant fails to reduce higher temps during hot weather and increase temps during freezing weather. It can also lead to a rust-clogged radiator and heater. What’s more: the inability to regulate temperature in your engine badly affects other car parts, such as head gaskets, cylinder blocks and o-rings.
Quick Fact: The RACQ and the NRMA note the majority of roadside breakdowns can be attributed to cooling system failures.
Schedule a coolant exchange. Right now.
Can bad things happen if my car has low or weak coolant?
If your engine overheats due to inefficient coolant, dangerous conditions can ensue. Your engine can seize up, crack and stop while your car is in motion. The same holds true during colder weather, when your engine is subject to freeze damage. Scary stuff. This is not an area you want to neglect.
What might indicate that my engine’s coolant needs exchanging or inspection?
Significant coolant problem indicators:
- Low coolant levels: If your coolant is low, you could have a leak in your cooling system. You may be able to see the leak under your vehicle, and you may be able to smell it as well. If you notice this, get your coolant inspected at the soonest opportunity. Other potential leak culprits include a bad radiator cap, blocked radiator or damaged sensor.
- Discolored coolant: Coolant color should never change, but it can when coolant gets contaminated with debris or it’s been in your car so long that the additives in it deplete. When coolant color changes or gets cloudy, bring it to us to see if it needs to be changed.
- Engine overheats: Worst-case scenario: your engine can overheat, seize-up and crack, causing your car to stop completely. If this has happened, it’s probably too late for a fluid exchange — you may need a whole engine exchange.
It’s a cool time for a coolant exchange. Schedule an appointment.