It's no secret your car needs frequent oil changes to maintain its health, but it is equally as important to flush the other fluids in your vehicle periodically as well. For most vehicles, this should be done once every two years or so, but this schedule can vary depending on the particular make and model as well as its current state. You can consult the owner's manual to determine when you should schedule a coolant replacement for your vehicle.
The cooling system is designed to remove heat from the engine, and the coolant that flows through the pipes and hoses snaking through the engine sucks up the heat generated by the running motor. When the hot liquid reaches the radiator, the heat is dissipated from the coolant so it can travel back through the system and continue the process. It is also charged with stopping rust from building up in the system, lowering the freezing temperature and increasing the boiling point so the cooling system can function properly all year long. Over time, the coolant can become contaminated with rust, debris and other buildup that can hold back the coolant from serving its full potential.
The coolant in your vehicle is 50 percent water and 50 percent antifreeze. This is important to keep in mind if you plan to change your car's coolant at home. You can purchase pre-mixed solutions or combine the coolant and water yourself. Just make sure you do so before you pour them into the car to ensure they are mixed properly.
If you cannot remember the last time you had the coolant flushed, you may want to do so soon. You can also check to determine if you should have the procedure done anyway. Coolant can be green, red, blue or yellow. It should appear clear and bright. If it is colorless, full of debris, dark or rusty, it is time to change the fluid. You will also want to pay attention for any appearance of oil or sludge on the surface of the fluid. This may indicate a head gasket leak and you will need the assistance of a car repair expert to correct the problem.
When you're checking or changing the coolant, you will also want to inspect the radiator hoses for signs of damage or wear. These are typically made of a softer material, which makes them susceptible to damage, as the coolant gets extremely hot when the engine is running. The hoses should be sturdy and uniform in shape. Check for bulges, soft spots and cracks as well as signs of leaks. Replace them if you notice any areas that appear damaged.
Another thing you should be on the lookout for is leaks. If you encounter low coolant levels, add more fluid - remember to mix with equal parts water - and check back in a few days. A noticeable drop in the fluid level could indicate a leak and you'll need to investigate further to find where the leak is coming from. Check the radiator cap for signs of leakage, as well as the seals around the hoses leading into the radiator and other areas of the engine.
Keeping an eye on the coolant can reduce the likelihood your engine will overheat this summer. This will also help prevent damage to your cooling system that can be expensive to repair.