This week on Orozco’s Auto Blog, we’re keeping your car cool by teaching you about your vehicle’s coolant.
What is coolant? Coolant, also known as antifreeze, is the fluid that is responsible for absorbing heat from the engine and dissipating it through the radiator. It is made from a mixture of ethylene or propylene glycol and water, usually in a 1:1 ratio. A coolant service consists of draining and flushing your car’s cooling system then replacing the old coolant with fresh coolant.
Over time, coolant will accumulate dirt and rust particles that can clog up your engine’s cooling system and cause problems, especially in the winter and summer at extreme temperatures. Furthermore, because it operates in a hot, hostile environment, coolant experiences chemical breakdown over time which breaks down its rust inhibitors and leaves your engine and radiator vulnerable to corrosion.
If the rust inhibitors in coolant stop working, then the cooling system will start to rust from the inside out. The biggest source of rust in a car’s cooling system is your engine block. Over time, these rust particles will also clog the tiny passages within the radiator and heater and cause your engine to overheat, probably necessitating a new engine and a hefty mechanic bill.
Your vehicle owner’s manual should have a recommended service schedule to check and replace your coolant. If you check your coolant level when the engine is cold, it should be at or above the “minimum” line on the transparent refill container. If the engine is hot, it should be at or slightly below the “max” line.
Coolant disappearing can only mean one thing: a leak, either external or internal. Internal leaks are more expensive, but both require immediate attention since running low on or running out of coolant can lead to catastrophic engine failure.
If you live where the temperature goes below freezing – not likely in sunny Southern California – you might want to check the concentration of your coolant. Diluted or weak coolant can freeze when the temperature drops below freezing and even crack your engine.
It is worth noting that antifreeze has a sweet aroma and taste which appeals to many pets, and ingesting even small amounts can easily kill an average sized cat or dog. There is nothing you can add to antifreeze to make it less appealing to animals, but antifreeze made with propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol is only about a third as toxic. If you have pets, it can be worth checking before you buy and only using propylene glycol antifreeze. It may save your pet’s life.
Here at Orozco’s Auto Service in Long Beach, we’ll be happy to help you with any antifreeze troubles you may have. If you think that there is a problem with your vehicle’s coolant system, it is leaking, or may need to be replaced, call our certified mechanics today at (562)-427-4256 to schedule an appointment. Orozco’s Auto Service is the most trusted shop in Long Beach!