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What Is Coolant or Antifreeze, and Why Is It Essential for Your Vehicle?

Filling vehicle’s coolant

Coolant is essential to your car’s cooling system, and your engine would quickly die without it. Yet coolant is one of the fluids seldom checked or changed by car owners. To ensure your car is operating at peak performance, you should know what engine coolant does and when to change it.

What is Engine Coolant or Antifreeze?

Coolant and antifreeze are two contradictory words that describe the same auto fluid: ethylene glycol. This alcohol-based fluid, typically green, pink, blue, red, or yellow in colour, both cools your engine and prevents it from freezing.

Antifreeze lowers the temperature at which ice crystals form in the cooling system liquid and raises the temperature at which it boils, allowing your vehicle to operate in a broader range of climates.

What Does Antifreeze Do?

Antifreeze is a must for vehicles in Canadian climates. For example, if your cooling system were filled with water instead of antifreeze, internal ice crystals would form at 0 C. The freezing water would expand, crack the engine block and blow the radiator apart. Antifreeze also allows your car to warm up more quickly in cold weather.

Conversely, coolant prevents your car from overheating. Your car’s engine produces an incredible amount of heat, with temperatures that would melt your car’s metal, plastic and rubber parts. Coolant, with a higher boiling temperature than water, absorbs this heat without evaporating and transfers it into the air.

Coolant also protects the internal parts of your car’s cooling system from corrosion and mineral buildup.

When Should You Change Your Coolant?

Today’s long-life coolant lasts about five years or 250,000 kilometres. However, it’s good to check your levels regularly to ensure there are no leaks and that the reservoir is full.

Moreover, you should check the condition of the coolant. If it smells burnt or has a gritty feel when you rub it between your fingers, it’s time for a coolant flush. More importantly, if the coolant is milky, you may have an oil leak. Visit an auto centre right away to check your engine.

It’s important to note that you can’t fill your radiator with just any coolant. There are different types of fluid, and mixing them can have disastrous consequences. Check the owner’s manual to ensure you’re using the correct type of coolant, or ask a mechanic.

Cooling System Checks in British Columbia and Alberta

During a maintenance tune-up at Minit-Tune & Brake Auto Centres, a certified technician will check your fluid levels and ensure your cooling system is operating efficiently. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at one of our locations in British Columbia and Alberta.


Minit-Tune & Brake Auto Centres Address Common Issues

Here at Minit-Tune & Brake Auto Centres in British Columbia, we’re always pleased to help our customers get the most out of their cars and trucks. To that end, we’ll add a relevant blog topic from time to time to keep you up to date and getting the most out of your vehicle.