Cooling System Flush & Fill | Grease Pro Top

Cooling System Flush & Fill

What does coolant do in a car?

Coolant is a colored liquid with many important functions that keep your car running its best.

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It is essential for maintaining an even operating temperature in the engine – it does this by working to keep the water in your engine and radiator from boiling over in hot temperatures and from freezing in cold temperatures.

Coolant works to lubricate various engine parts and prevents corrosion in the engine. It does this by corroding itself over time which protects the engine metals from corrosion. That’s why it is vital to flush and refill this essential fluid every so often. After so long, the coolant itself becomes too corroded and is no longer able to protect your engine.

Driving with no coolant in your car, low coolant, or dirty coolant can lead to large issues and costly repairs.

It is recommended to have a coolant flush and fill every 30,000 miles or every 2 to 5 years depending on your vehicle. Specific recommendations for your vehicle can be found in your vehicle’s manufacturer manual.

Where does coolant go?

Stranded on the side of the road with an overheated vehicle trying to figure out where to put coolant and how to put coolant in your car is a position no one wants to be in.

Your coolant reservoir can usually be easily spotted as it is typically made of transparent plastic and the coolant inside is a bright color. Coolant is one of many components that make up your cooling system. Other parts include your water pump, radiator, radiator hoses, fan, and thermostat.

When your vehicle is running, coolant is constantly circulating through the engine and back through the radiator. After the coolant is cooled, it runs from the bottom of the radiator to the water pump, which pumps into the engine. The liquid absorbs the excess heat to maintain proper engine temperature and then returns to the top of the radiator, where it is cooled again.


Signs You Need a Coolant Flush

Low coolant levels, obvious coolant leaks, or steam coming from under the hood are all signs that your cooling system needs attention.

With a coolant flush, all fluid in the system is drained and the entire system is flushed to remove any rust particles or debris which can affect optimal performance. Flushing is a more complex task than draining and refilling, so it’s recommended that you always turn to a professional repair shop for the service.

A few key signs that your vehicle is due for a coolant flush include engine overheating and discolored coolant.

Engine overheating, which is indicated by the temperature gauge creeping up, is a solid sign that something is wrong with your cooling system, and it may be time for a flush. If your coolant is too old, it loses its ability to cool the engine properly. Ignoring this maintenance can lead to major engine failure issues later on.

Discolored coolant is a VERY clear sign that it’s time to flush the cooling system. Coolant should always be translucent. You’ll know it’s time to flush the system if your coolant appears brown and more opaque. 

Low Coolant Symptoms

Driving without coolant or with low coolant levels can be very bad for your engine and quickly leads to wear and tear and even failure.

One of the first signs of low coolant in your car will be the engine overheating and temperature gauge rising, followed by the low coolant warning light appearing on your dashboard.

Low coolant levels are a clear indicator that there is a leak somewhere in the cooling system. As a temporary fix, you can top off coolant, but the leak will remain, and you will need to keep a very close eye on your coolant level.

Can you use water as coolant?

In extreme circumstances, you can top off your coolant reservoir with water or fill it if needed, but this should not be considered a proper fix because water can not handle the same temperatures or transfer heat as effectively as coolant can.

If you experience any of these symptoms, getting your vehicle into a shop for diagnostics and repair as soon as possible is crucial to avoid severe damage.

Reasons for Coolant Loss

Disappearing engine coolant can be frustrating and worrisome as it means a piece of your cooling system is failing. It could be a straightforward issue like a leaky radiator cap, a hole in your radiator, or a crack in a hose. Or your problems could be stemming from a water pump issue or a blown head gasket.

Coolant has a very distinct scent which some have described as a sweet smell. If you smell a new odor, notice a leak under your vehicle, or see your temperature gauge rising, it is a good idea to stop your car and check your coolant level. To do this, you will want to ensure your vehicle is parked on level ground to see accurate levels. You will also want to wait for the vehicle to cool down. This can take between 15 and 30 minutes. When you’re ready to pop the hood, you will look for a clear plastic reservoir, and you should be able to see the coolant through the side. Check to see where the level falls in comparison to the fill lines on the side of the reservoir. If you can not see coolant at all, you need a coolant top off immediately and should seek auto shop assistance as soon as possible.

How Often to Top Off Coolant

You should top off coolant anytime the level is below the guide marks on the reservoir. Creating a routine of checking your coolant once before summer and once before winter or before any long trips is a great habit that will help you identify any issues before it’s too late.

Before topping off your coolant, it’s a good idea to check the coolant currently in your system. Remember, coolant should always be translucent, and if there is a rusty tinge to it or you can see particles and debris in it, it’s time for a coolant flush.

Can you add coolant to a hot engine?

No! Never attempt to open your radiator cap or add coolant while your vehicle is still hot. Doing so can lead to serious injuries or burns. Allow the car to cool down completely before adding coolant.

How long does it take a car to cool down?

The safest practice is to wait 30 to 60 minutes before adding coolant. This will ensure the radiator cap, hoses, reservoir, and other essential parts are cool enough to avoid injury and damage to the vehicle.

If you find yourself having to add coolant regularly, that is a clear indicator that there is a leak or other more serious problem, and you should seek to have this repaired as soon as possible.

Our knowledgeable techs have the tools for the job. Stop by the Grease Pro nearest you for a cooling system flush and fill. No appointment needed.

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