At Prestone UK, we recommend checking your coolant/antifreeze at least every two weeks, depending on how often you drive. A working cooling system is critical to the continued performance and health of your car's engine, so it's important to make sure the coolant/antifreeze level never drops below the minimum fill line marked on the container.
Here we answer some of the most common questions asked by first-time coolant/antifreeze adders, including:
- What does the cooling system do?
- How do I identify my car's coolant/antifreeze reservoir?
- How to check the level of the cooling system?
- How can I tell if my cooling system is leaking?
- How do I fill my car's coolant/antifreeze tank?
- Can I add coolant/antifreeze to a hot car?
- What to do if my car overheats?
- Can I put water in the car radiator?
- How long does it take to cool down a radiator?
What does the cooling system do?
The cooling system is designed to remove heat from the engine and keep it running at the proper temperature. The system consists of a radiator, fan, and hoses that run through the engine block and allow the coolant/antifreeze to absorb heat from all parts of the engine.
This heat is then dissipated in the radiator by the amount of cool air drawn in through the front grill and fan, and the fluid is recirculated to absorb more heat. Because the process is continuous, it ensures that the engine is always running at the right temperature.
How do I identify my car's coolant/antifreeze reservoir?
Your car's coolant/antifreeze reservoir should be easily identifiable by its colored cap, as many cars have a yellow coolant/antifreeze cap. You will probably notice that there is also a warning symbol on the cap to indicate the danger of unscrewing the cap while the engine is running or hot.
The reservoir itself is usually made of thick white, semi-transparent plastic, and you should be able to see the colored (often pink, yellow, or green) coolant/antifreeze through the side of the tank.
If you're having trouble locating your car's coolant reservoir, it's best to consult your owner's manual, which includes a diagram showing various parts and components under the hood. If you don't have the manual, go online and visit forums dedicated to your car make and model; a fellow traveler should be able to show you the coolant reservoir for your specific type of car.
How to check the level of the cooling system?
Checking the coolant/antifreeze level is a simple process and should only take a few minutes every few weeks.
To check your car's coolant/antifreeze level, locate the container and compare the fluid to the minimum and maximum marks printed on the side. The color of the coolant/antifreeze should make this easier, but you may need to clean the bottle if dust and dirt block your view.
Ideally, the level should always be closer to (or just above) the 'max' mark, so if it has dropped towards the 'minimum', we recommend recharging.
If you add fluids to your car, e.g.Prestone Coolant/Antifreeze, it is important to make sure the engine is cold before unscrewing the expansion tank cap, as coolant runs at around 90°C. After filling, make sure the reservoir cap is replaced and tightened.
If the level is below the minimum line, fill to the maximum line and check daily.
How can I tell if my cooling system is leaking?
If you have to refill the coolant reservoir every time you service it, you could have a leak. Leaks can occur throughout the cooling system and cause serious problems such as overheating and engine damage if left unattended. If you think your vehicle's cooling system may have a hole, gap, or crack, take it to a professional mechanic who can diagnose the problem for you.
How do I fill the coolant tank of your car?
Filling your car's coolant tank is a simple process. Here is a step by step guide on how to do it:
Can I add coolant/antifreeze to a hot car?
In cases where an engine overheats and fails, it may be necessary to add fresh coolant/antifreeze to the cooling system. Never fill coolant/antifreeze when the engine is hot, wait until it has cooled down.
Because? Cooling systems are pressurized and removing the filler cap when the engine is hot can cause severe burns. Not only that, but the filler cap itself can get very hot to the touch, so it's important for your own safety to wait until it cools down.
There is another reason why you should never add coolant/antifreeze to a hot car and that is catastrophic engine failure. Adding cold coolant/antifreeze to a hot engine can cause cracking due to the sudden change in temperature. Even if you're in a hurry, you still have to take the time to wait for the engine to cool down, or face a potentially major repair bill.
What to do if my car overheats?
Nothing is more stressful for a driver than seeing steam coming out from under the hood, especially when stuck in traffic. But what exactly to do when the temperature gauge begins to rise towards the red, indicating that the engine is overheating?
These five tips provide guidance on what to do if your car overheats while driving.
turn off the air conditioning
If you notice that the temperature gauge enters the red zone, the first thing to do is turn off the air conditioning. Air conditioning puts an additional load on the engine, causing it to generate more heat. Turning off reduces the load on the motor and cools down faster - an absolute must in summer.
turn on the heater
Turning your heaters on full blows heat away from the engine and into the cabin, which may not be comfortable for you, but the engine will thank you for it. If it's the height of summer, open the windows to keep it from getting too crowded and open the vents all the way for the best heat transfer away from the hot engine bay.
While stopped, shift to neutral and rev the engine
Revving the engine may sound counterintuitive to help it cool down, but doing it gently will bring in more air and cool the radiator faster, assuming the problem isn't with the cooling fan. Shift to neutral and rev the engine to about 1500rpm to get the cooling fan running.
keep the car rolling
Stop-and-go traffic is the worst situation you can find yourself in if your car overheats. That's because braking creates drag in the engine bay, heating things up instead of cooling them down. Starting is also bad news for a hot engine, as the car has to work against inertia and needs more power. Instead, try to keep the car moving by reading the traffic and avoiding too many stops and starts.
Pull open the hood
Sometimes when you notice a change in the temperature gauge, it's best to stop and wait for it to cool down. Driving with a hot engine can do more harm than good, so we always recommend letting things cool down before checking your coolant/antifreeze reservoir. If it is empty, there may be a leak and you will need to fill it up to continue your journey.
Can I put water in the car radiator?
Water can be added to the cooling system, but only as a last resort to help you get home when the engine is overheating. Water does not have the anti-freeze and anti-corrosion properties of specially formulated coolants/antifreezes, so you should not drive with just water in the cooling system for longer than necessary, especially if you live in a cold climate where water in the system it could freeze, leading to a whole host of problems.
How long does it take to cool down a radiator?
This depends on how long you drove and at what speed. If you've only taken a short walk around town, the radiator won't get too hot and should cool down in 20-30 minutes.
However, if you shot it on the freeway, give it about an hour for the radiator to cool down enough for you to drive it safely. Of course, these times differ depending on the outside temperature, since the radiators take longer to cool down in summer than in winter.
If you need to completely replace your coolant, you can use Prestone Coolant/Antifreeze for the same job.Read here how it works.
All of our products are tested under extreme conditions to ensure they work for you every day. For more information on Prestone,Visit our homepage.