Coolant (also known as anti-freeze) prevents engine freeze-up in winter, reduces the engine temperature in the summer, and protects the cooling system from rust and corrosion year round.
- Make sure your vehicle is parked on a level surface and is not running.
- Always check your engine coolant when the engine is cold, and never remove the radiator cap when the engine is hot. The best time to check the coolant level is prior to starting the vehicle for the day.
- Checking the coolant reservoir is usually all that is needed to ensure the proper level of anti-freeze is in the cooling system. If coolant is needed, add a 50/50 mix of the correct type of anti-freeze with water to bring the reservoir to the correct level. However, if your vehicle is equipped with a radiator cap, it is a good practice to also check the level of coolant in the radiator, especially if you have a leak or expect a low-coolant condition.
- The coolant level in the recovery reservoir should be between the minimum and maximum lines.
- Before removing the radiator cap, verify that there is no pressure in the coolant system by squeezing the upper radiator hose. If you can’t easily squeeze it, there is too much pressure in the system. If pressure is present, wait until pressure dissipates.
- The coolant level should be within one inch of the top of the radiator filler neck, and the coolant should be free of contaminants.
- Adding a small amount of coolant is normal. However, if you find that you are regularly adding coolant, a leak in the cooling system or engine may be the problem.
- When changing the coolant, it is also a good idea to have your cooling system’s thermostat checked.
- Coolant should be tested yearly for acid content and to check its freeze protection capabilities.
What Should My Coolant Look Like?
- The color of the coolant will depend on which type of coolant you use.
- If your coolant has lost its coloring or is contaminated with rust, it is time to change the coolant.
- If possible, avoid mixing coolant of different types/colors.