Besides working very hard to keep your engine cool, your coolant also provides protection from corrosion and electrolysis from messing up your engine. Coolant exchanges are due every 2 years in most cases and performing them on time will save you tons of money in the long run.
What is a coolant exchange
A coolant exchange consists of:
- Draining all of the coolant in the engine as well as the radiator
- Replacing any seal rings and washers that have been removed
- Filling with the factory recommended Coolant
- Most coolants need to be mixed with distilled water – It is VERY important to use distilled water for this. Other types of water (and tap water) can cause corrosion inside the engine and lead to costly repairs
- Performing the cooling system bleed procedure
- Testing cooling operation and heater operation
Of course, before doing any of this, we perform our 130 point personalized inspection which includes inspecting the coolant overflow tank, coolant cap, and many other cooling system components.
How about a coolant flush?
A coolant flush is the next level of thoroughness when needing a coolant exchange. We use the coolant flush to either flush and install a conditioner additive or when its been too long and there’s a ton of gunk in the cooling system. The coolant flush typically includes hooking up a machine to manually push all of the coolant and cleaner through the system so it’s sure to get all the old stuff out.
We use BG cleaners and additives. They not only do an incredible job cleaning and protecting your cooling system but BG puts a pretty awesome warranty on most of the parts their product touches. They believe so much in their product that if your water pump fails after using their conditioner they’ll pay to replace it!
See all the fine print here – http://www.bgautomn.com/lifetime-protection-plan
We’ll also use the coolant flush if there is dirty coolant, debris, or other fluids mixed into the coolant. Sometimes we’ll have to flush a system 2-3 times before its ready for the fresh coolant.
How do you test coolant?
Coolant can be tested for multiple concerns –
- Freeze Level
- In colder environments coolant needs to withstand the freezing cold. If your coolant were to freeze it can expand and cause MAJOR issues within your engine. So for this, it has to have a freeze point below the environment you’re in.
- Electrolysis Protection
- Electrolysis is a type of corrosion that can corrode your engine from the inside out. It can be caused by a faulty ground, aftermarket equipment poorly wired, or coolant not providing the protection needed.
- We’ve had cases on cars like BMW that use an aluminum cylinder head. When attempting to replace the thermostat housing there has been so much corrosion that we can’t reseal the housing to the cylinder head without massive amounts of sealer.
- This can be tested by using a multimeter. Set the tester to voltage and put the negative probe to a good ground source. Zero the multimeter then dip the positive probe into the coolant. If there’s anything over .015V then you need to change your coolant. You can verify this by disconnecting the negative cable of the battery and retesting with a ground under the hood. If the charge is still there then the coolant needs to be changed.
- Boiling point
- Regular water will boil if used without an additive or coolant in most engines. It’s super important the coolant in the engine does not boil as it can cause major issues with air pockets and flow within the engine. This can be tested with a simple hand held fluid tester (pictured below)
- Test strips
- Yep! Just like your Jacuzzi or pool you can use test strips to tell you the condition of your coolant these strips show you the condition of Nitrite, Freeze Point, and PH test.
- Look at it!
- Is it dirty? Change it
- Is it the wrong color? Change it
- Has it been 2 years? Change it!
- Not sure? Change it!
We use Motul and Redline coolant additives to raise the boiling point in performance applications. Adding these fluids to standard coolant helps a little but using them directly with distilled water works the best. We do not recommend this in street cars though because you don’t get the engine corrosion protection that you’ll get using a genuine coolant. Race cars are not allowed to use coolant because if its spills it can be very slippery and we don’t want that on the race track. Instead they are required to run just water and an additive like Redline Water Wetter or Motul Mocool. We recommend services on these applications 1-2 times a year to prevent corrosion.
Once again it’s all about preventative maintenance. Keep your coolant fresh and you’ll make the most expensive stuff like water pumps, thermostats, cylinder heads, and heater cores last longer. A coolant exchange only takes a few hours and is usually less than $200. If you choose us we can give you a ride anywhere in our shuttle, or you can enjoy our free coffee, cookies, and WiFi in our customer lounge.
About the author –
His name is Neil, He likes cars and maintaining them.