How to Check a Vehicle’s Coolant/Antifreeze | Penney Auto Body & Glass Vancouver

The radiator in your vehicle cools your engine and needs water and coolant (antifreeze) to function. The following tips will help you when checking the level of the liquid in your cooling system and if you need to add more:

Instead of opening the cap on the radiator, simply check to see whether the liquid reaches the “Full/Max” line on the side of the coolant reservoir. If the liquid doesn’t reach the “Full” line, open the bottle and add a 50/50 mix of water and coolant until it does. Some coolants are premixed, so check your bottle to see whether you need to add water or just use it as-is.

Only in an emergency should you add only water to the coolant system. Modern engines have aluminum cylinder heads, which require the protective anticorrosive properties of antifreeze. A 50/50 mix of liquid or coolant is usually sufficient. Some coolant recovery systems are pressurized and have a radiator pressure cap instead of a normal cap.

Some older cars do not have a coolant reservoir, so to check and add coolant, you will have to open the cap on the radiator. Remember to never add coolant to a hot engine. If you need to add more liquid, wait until the engine has cooled down to avoid getting burned or cracking your engine block. Don’t open the caps on either of these systems when the engine is hot. If you do, the hot coolant may be ejected.

Coolant is usually red, green, blue, or yellow. If it looks colorless, looks rusty, or has particles floating around in it, flush your cooling system and add new coolant. If the coolant has a sludgy, slick surface, immediately take the vehicle to your mechanic to check for internal gasket leakage. 

Feel the radiator hoses, too. They’re the big hoses that go into the top and come out of the bottom of the radiator. If they’re leaking, cracked, bulgy, or squishy, they should be replaced.

Penney Auto Body & Glass, Vancouver’s Auto Body Collision Repair Shop, is an expert in paint and body repair and cares about the welfare of your car and your personal safety. If you get involved in an automotive accident or you're a victim of a vehicle break-in or theft be sure to contact Penney Auto Body for your auto body, collision repair, and car painting services.