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Answering All Your Car Questions

Why and how to check the antifreeze or coolant level

By Jakob Jelling

When extreme temperatures are near, it is very important to make sure that the cars antifreeze or coolant level is correct. Checking the coolant or antifreeze level is very easy and it might make a big difference on the engine health and proper functioning since failures in this area could seriously damage it.

First of all, it is important to consider that new cars which aren't more than about five years old usually have a coolant or antifreeze which lasts more than the rest of the cars lifetime, having what is known as extended life antifreeze. This way, if your car belongs to this category it is important that you use the proper antifreeze for it or otherwise, if you use a regular antifreeze formulation it might damage the engine.

Extended life antifreeze or coolant does not contain the conventional inhibitors which other coolants do. The main difference is that conventional inhibitors would start failing at about 24.000 miles while extended life coolants, based on organic technologies, would last for about 150.000 miles.

Before you start checking the coolant level you must always remember to wait until the car is cold. You should never examine the coolant system before making sure the system is cold or you could be seriously hurt due to the high temperatures which car fluids can reach. In order to check the antifreeze level you should start by visually checking the cooling system. The cooling system should not contain any debris of any kind, and in case it does you should remove them until it is completely clean since very usually engines overheat due to the presence of debris.

It is also important to check the tension of the water pump drive belt as well as check that the electric fan is functioning correctly. Once you have done this, you should also check the radiator and the hoses in order to make sure they are not damaged. Then, you should check the cooling system tank and look the coolant level into it according to the mark it has. If the coolant level is between the mark which says full and the one saying low then it is correct, if it doesn't reach the low mark then you should add more until it reaches the proper level.