How do I Check My Coolant?
Antifreeze or coolant is important to keep your vehicle from overheating in summer and prevents freezing in winter. In most climates, a 50/50 mix of distilled water and antifreeze works all year round.
To check your coolant, locate the coolant reservoir. You can usually find the coolant overflow tank near the front or side of the engine, and you can identify it as usually fairly transparent with a bottom line labelled “Cold” and a top line labelled “Hot.”
In some vehicles, the coolant recovery system will be pressurized and have a pressure cap instead of a normal cap. Some older vehicles may not have a coolant reservoir at all, and you will have to open the radiator cap to see the coolant level.
Caution! Never add coolant to a hot engine! If the system is hot and pressurized, it can cause serious injury to open the radiator cap.
Step 1 – Visual Inspection
With your engine cold, open the cap and check that the coolant is at or above the “Cold” indicator line.
Take note of any oily residues or off-coloured coolant. Coolant is usually red, green, blue or yellow. If it looks rusty or has things floating in it, your system needs a flush. Excessive oil in your coolant could also be a sign of a head gasket leak.
Step 2 – Top Up
If your coolant is low, you will need to top it up with a 50/50 mix of coolant and distilled water. This can usually be purchased pre-mixed, but you can also mix your own. Don’t add pure water except in emergencies, as this will dilute the coolant and reduce its anticorrosive properties or cause it to freeze in winter.
Fill up your coolant until it reaches the “Cold” line, if needed. Tighten up your coolant cap and make sure it is completely tightened, or snaps into place.
Step 3 – Inspect Hoses
Before closing the hood, feel your radiator hoses for leaks. They are the large hoses that come into the top and bottom of your radiator. If you see cracks or if they feel bulgy or “squishy” they need to be replaced.
Step 4 – Clean up Spilled Coolant
Waste coolant is toxic to animals, so it’s essential that you properly clean up any accidental spills.
- If you spill any on the ground you should make sure that you wipe it up.
- Do not leave the container lying around!
- Follow the recommendations on the container to dispose of it properly.
- If you find that you are consistently filling your coolant and levels continue to be low, this may mean that you have a leak. This may be a minor fix (such as replacing the radiator hose) or it could be more serious.
If you think you may have a cooling system leak, or if it’s time to change your coolant, schedule a service appointment at Vernon Nissan and we will take care of it for you.