September 22nd, 2020 by Fix Auto USA
1When gas burns in an engine, it releases a huge amount of energy. When that energy leaves the engine in the form of exhaust, it is extremely hot and causes the metal to heat up. The underappreciated coolant, also known as anti-freeze, plays a vital role by helping your car’s cooling system regulate the engine temperature and avoid overheating. Essentially, the coolant travels through the engine, absorbs the heat, and releases it into the atmosphere through the radiator.
If your coolant levels get too low, the engine could get hotter than it is supposed and lead to engine damage. During hot weather, your car has to work harder to stay cool, so it is a particularly good idea to check your coolant level more frequently during the summer. Coolant also helps protect your car during winter, so it does not freeze over. Now, lets talk about how to top off coolant.
Topping off coolant
Before we break down the steps for topping off coolant, let’s talk about how to get the product. You can buy a branded engine coolant at your local auto parts center; the formula will most likely be pre-mixed with 50 percent coolant and 50 percent water distilled water. Another option is getting pure coolant and mixing in the distilled water yourself; the quality of water is important to avoid contaminating your pipes.
Just like checking your brake fluid level or engine oil level, checking and topping off coolant is straightforward. Follow these simple steps:
How to top off coolant: Key Steps
Step 1: Don’t use your right before
Park your car on level ground and let it sit there for a few hours without being driven so it’s not too hot.
Step 2: Open the hood and locate the coolant reservoir.
If you haven’t done this before, you will need to know where to put antifreeze in car. Look for the reservoir holding the coolant; it’s usually a clear plastic tub with a colored liquid inside. The cap should be marked with a warning such as “Caution” or “Hot.”
Step 3: Assess the coolant level.
To check the coolant level you will need to access the coolant reservoir. The coolant reservoir has a cap that you can remove and in some (but not all vehicles) the radiator also has a cap that you can take off.
On the side of the reservoir you’ll see a Min and Max scale. Make sure the coolant level is within the range; if it is not, you need to top it off.
Step 4: Mix coolant and water.
If you purchased pre-mixed coolant, disregard this step.
If you have pure coolant, you can mix in the distilled water yourself – 50 percent coolant 50 percent distilled water. If you do not have distilled water, boil some water and let it cool down before adding it to the mixture.
Step 5: Top off the radiator.
If you can’t see any coolant in the radiator and it has a cap that you can access, go ahead and top it off until you see coolant at the bottom of the neck. If air is trapped inside, it could rise to the surface, causing the level to drop. In that case, just fill it up again and put the cap back on.
Step 6: Top off the coolant reservoir.
Like the radiator, the coolant reservoir will be indicated with min and max lines. Pour in the coolant until it reaches the max line, and put the cap back on.
Can you top off coolant with water?
It is probably not a great idea to top off coolant with water, as regular water has contaminants that could accumulate in your coolant pipes. However, if you do not have access to coolant for whatever reason, it is far better to top off coolant with water than to let your coolant level get too low.
- Check your vehicle owner manual if you are not sure about the type or amount of coolant to use.
- You might save a little money by buying coolant that is approved for all cars, but it is better to stick with the coolant that was specially designed for your vehicle.
- Weigh the convenience of buying coolant that has already been mixed with water versus buying straight coolant and mixing in the water yourself. The pre-mixed coolant is more expensive; however, it is much harder to find pure coolant these days, so you may not have a choice.
If your low coolant light comes on after your recent refill, or you suspect there might be a leak (link to “How to check for coolant leaks), bring your car to a reputable auto repair shop where the professionals can diagnose and address any issues.
This blog post was contributed by Fix Auto Castle Rock a leading industry expert and collision repair shop servicing the Douglas County, including Meadows, Founders Village, Plum Creek, Metzler Ranch, Castle Pines, Brookside, Castle Highlands, Castle North ,and Piney Creek.