Cool Down

How do I check my car's coolant?

Keeping your cool in traffic may be a bit of a challenge, but keeping your car’s engine shouldn’t. Ensure your radiator remains as cool as cucumber with our simple tips on checking your cars coolant (antifreeze).

  • Check the level. Before you even open up your radiator cap, check to see if the liquid reaches the ‘full’ line on the side of the coolant reservoir.
  • Top up. If the liquid is below the ‘full’ line, open the radiator up and add a mix of 50% water and 50% coolant until it does. Some coolants are premixed, so check the bottle to see whether you need to add water or just use it as-is.
  • Use the coolant colour code. Coolant is usually red, green, blue, or yellow. If it looks colourless, looks rusty, or has things floating around in it, flush your cooling system and add new coolant.
  • Be concerned about consistency. If the coolant has a sludgy, oily surface, immediately take the vehicle to your mechanic to check for internal head gasket leakage. The service facility has special equipment for performing this check.
  • Cop a feel. While you’re checking your coolant, feel the radiator hoses, too. They’re the big hoses that go into the top and come out of the bottom of the radiator. If they’re leaking, cracked, bulgy or squishy, they should be replaced.
  • Play it cool. Emergency situations happen, and it’s only in these situations where you should attempt adding only water to the coolant system. Most modern engines have aluminium cylinder heads, which require the protective anticorrosive properties of antifreeze. A 50/50 mix of liquid or coolant is usually sufficient. Some coolant recovery systems are pressurized and have a radiator pressure cap instead of a normal cap. Older vehicles may have no coolant reservoir, so to check and add coolant, open the cap on the radiator.
  • Don’t be hot headed. Never add coolant to a hot engine! If you need to add more liquid, wait until the engine has cooled down to avoid the possibility of being burned or cracking your engine block. Don’t open the caps on either of these systems when the engine is hot; if you do, hot coolant may be ejected.
  • Take a chill pill. Checking your coolant may not ward off those pesky taxis, but it will help you feel cool, calm and collected in even the worst of traffic jams here on out!

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