Coolant is the most important fluid in your car. If your car was a human body, coolant would be its circulatory system. Coolant maintains the temperature of your engine and transmission. A coolant leak can cause your engine to overheat, which might lead to a costly repair. Here are six more things you need to know about coolant.

1. Coolant is lethal but smells sweet.

Keep your tub of coolant (a.k.a. antifreeze) on a high counter so your child or pet can’t access it. You should also keep an eye on your dog if you spilled any on the pavement, because it only takes a few tablespoons to poison an animal. Click here if you’d like to see more tips from the Humane Society.

2. Coolant comes in different colors.

Coolant comes in different shades because certain brands are made with different kinds of chemicals, that are designed for a specific type of engine. These chemicals are not compatible. For example, Ethylene Glycol is green and Dexcool is orange. If you combine them, they will turn into a gel-like substance and cause your engine to overheat. 

3. Coolant doesn’t have anything to do with your AC.

That sounds confusing… like why do we drive on a parkway and park on the driveway? Where were we? Oh yeah… the words “coolant” and “antifreeze” can be used to describe the same product. It doesn’t matter which term the packaging uses. The function of the fluid is to keep the hot engine and transmission cool when the vehicle is running. Anti-freeze is to keep the fluid from “freezing” in the cold weather.

4. Coolant should be mixed 50/50 with water.

Some varieties of coolant are premixed, so you might not have to worry about this point (read the instructions carefully to make sure!). Coolant can’t cool down your engine as efficiently as water can. Water would cause corrosion in your engine by itself. Corrosion will kill your engine. You get a perfect combination when you mix coolant and water together. It’s okay to use water alone if you’ve got a leak and need to get to a mechanic.

5. Coolant prevents freezing and overheating.

Like sweat cools down the human body, coolant cools down the auto body. When your car reaches its operating temperature, a thermostat opens up and allows coolant to flow through the engine. This prevents overheating, even though your engine can run at a boiling 212 degrees! Your car would crap out (and then you’d be stranded on the side of the road) without this protection. Common causes of breakdowns include leaks and low or contaminated coolant.

6. Coolant should be checked, filled or flushed every two years.

If you try to wash dishes in dirty water, they won’t get clean. That’s why you have to replace the water every now and then. The fluids in your car work the same way. Most car manufacturers recommend changing your coolant every 24 to 36 months. You can find a more specific suggestion in your owner’s manual. Please note this is a general recommendation. You should also consider your climate and driving habits. Most auto experts recommend replacing your coolant annually when you live in a hot climate. 

Please share this post with your friends so they will be aware that motor oil isn’t the only auto fluid worth checking. Thanks! 🙂

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