The coolant, or “antifreeze,” in your vehicle’s engine helps it to regulate temperature and resist corrosion. Many people only think about their coolant levels when the “Check Coolant Level” indicator light on their dash illuminates. However, people who consistently ignore their coolant are likely to find themselves stuck with a bad day—and an unnecessary repair bill— very soon because coolant is a critical element in keeping your vehicle running smoothly. Here’s when, how, and why to check your coolant levels from your friends at Two Fingers Automotive!
When to Check Your Coolant Levels
You should check your coolant levels at least once a week, always when the engine is cold and ideally before you start driving. This is especially important during the summer when your engine necessarily runs hotter. Generally, later-model vehicles will have a coolant reservoir off to the side of the engine. The reservoir is made out of clear plastic, so you can see the level and condition of your coolant at a glance. It also includes a fill port, making it easy for you to identify how full the reservoir is and top it off as needed. (Note: Never open the reservoir cap, or the radiator cap on older vehicles, while the engine is hot! This can cause backsplash and steam or burn injuries, especially if you have your face close to the radiator opening.) Topping off the coolant is a simple matter of opening the port and pouring in the coolant until it reaches the fill line. It takes a few minutes, but it can save you a lot of time and frustration!
Your coolant will most likely be a thick, bright green color resembling Mountain Dew or a bright cherry red but could also be bright blue or yellow. If your coolant looks dark, sludgy, rusty, or dirty, this could indicate a leak in your head gasket or a damaged or cracked coolant hose, which allows coolant to leak out of your vehicle. If the reservoir is low or empty, you should immediately top it off and check the reservoir and under your vehicle at regular intervals throughout the next several days. No matter how expensive the coolant, it won’t do you or your vehicle any good if it’s on the ground and not in your engine! If you see these indications, you notice the hose from the coolant reservoir looks damaged, or you see coolant pooling under your vehicle, you should bring it to Two Fingers Automotive immediately!
What’s The Worst That Can Happen?
No matter what type of vehicle you drive, if it has an engine that runs on gas, diesel, or other fuel, your vehicle has an internal combustion engine. Essentially, your vehicle is powered by a series of tiny explosions within the engine that produce forward momentum. As you can imagine, this means your engine can get very hot, very fast. Coolant is designed to help draw off that excess heat, allowing your air conditioning and other systems to work as intended while protecting your engine from overheating and breakdowns caused by heating the engine components beyond their tolerance.
You may notice your vehicle’s temperature gauge climbing into the red zone, or that your car’s air conditioning is only giving out hot air or not blowing at all. Some vehicles are equipped with a shutoff that won’t allow them to start or run if the coolant level is too low, forcing the driver to top off before they can go anywhere. And of course, the most obvious indicator is when you find yourself stranded on the side of the road with an overheated engine billowing smoke and steam—or worse, bursting into flames!
By checking your coolant levels regularly and diligently, you can save yourself a lot of headaches and unnecessary wasted time and money. If you find yourself needing repairs after a major coolant leak or poor coolant maintenance, or for any other reason, you need to bring your vehicle to your Mooresville professional auto shop, Two Fingers Automotive. We’ll evaluate the situation and make the necessary repairs to get you safely on your way, at a fair price with hometown values and old-fashioned service. Click here to contact Two Fingers Automotive through our website or give us a call at (704) 230-4678 today!