In order for various engine components to perform at their best, they need to be working at a certain temperature across all weather conditions. This is where antifreeze comes into play. This type of liquid is what helps control the temperature inside the engine at all times. If it’s very hot or cold outside, antifreeze is pumped by your vehicle’s radiator and sent through the engine block to maintain optimal temperature. Antifreeze, which is not the same as coolant, can also help prevent corrosion. But like many car parts, antifreeze has a certain lifespan, which is why changing it every 30,000 to 50,000 miles (48,000 to 80,000 km) should be on your car maintenance checklist.
How to Change Antifreeze
- With this type of vehicle maintenance, it’s important to take a look at your vehicle’s owner manual to find out how much antifreeze you need to fill your car with. This will also tell you what type of antifreeze for car your vehicle needs. Once you have the right type of antifreeze and correct dosage, you are ready to change it.
- Start by parking your car on a flat surface and leaving it to sit until the radiator is cool to the touch – this may take up to a few hours. Next what you need to do is disconnect the battery by loosening the bolt on the negative terminal and removing the cable from it. This will ensure that the car can’t be turned on while you’re working. Make sure that the hood is held up securely by a sturdy hood prop or hydraulic pistons – whatever comes handy.
- Lastly, jack the car up if there’s not enough room for a bucket to be placed underneath the radiator. You can use either jack stands or ramps to lift the front of your vehicle, just make sure you put a wheel block behind one of the tyres and have the parking brake on.
Draining The Radiator
- To remove the old antifreeze for car, you’ll need to position a large enough bucket underneath the drain valve. The drain valve can be found on the bottom of the radiator which is located at the front of the engine bay, right behind the grill of your vehicle. The valve is usually located on the passenger side on one of the end tanks found on the radiator. Your vehicle may have a plug in the drain valve which is known as a “drain cock”.
- When you’ve located the drain valve, open it/ remove the drain cock and let the antifreeze liquid pour into the bucket. Once that’s done, close the drain valve/ replace the drain cock and open the radiator pressure cap. You can find this cap along the piping going from the radiator to the engine or on top of the coolant reservoir. When you remove the cap check if the fluid level inside the reservoir is low.
- To make sure all the old antifreeze liquid has been drained, fill the coolant reservoir with water and turn on the engine with the heat inside the cabin on full. Let this run for about 10 minutes so the water has enough time to cycle through the coolant system and get the last bit of antifreeze drained out. During this, you shouldn’t let the temperature gauge get to the red area – if it starts approaching it, turn the engine off. You don’t want to overheat the vehicle.
Adding the New Antifreeze
- Before you continue with this process, let the vehicle cool down again – this can take quite some time despite having the engine run only for 10 minutes. If the gauge did approach the red zone you might want to wait for an hour or even longer until you have the radiator cool to the touch.
- Once you have the radiator cool to the touch, drain the water from the radiator the same way you drained the old antifreeze liquid in order to flush out what’s left of it. Secure the drain valve and pour in the new antifreeze and water mixture which is usually 50/ 50. To avoid overflowing the radiator tank, you’ll need to pour the mixture into the pressure cap slowly, since the mixture goes gradually from the reservoir into the coolant lines.
- Check below the car for leaks and if any occur near the drain valve make sure you tighten it properly, as it can get worse when it’s under pressure. In case you spot leaks from places other than the drain valve, you’ll need to seek professional help. Close the pressure cap and start the engine once again with the heating in the cabin set to full and let it run for 10 minutes.
- The temperature should go up a bit and then quickly get back to the middle of the gauge which is usually in blue. In case the temperature gauge goes towards overheating, turn off the engine and check if the radiator is filled. After 10 minutes have passed turn the engine off and if the temperature gauge is in the blue zone it means that you’ve successfully changed the antifreeze liquid.
- Lower the vehicle and make sure you dispose of the water and old coolant properly. After a few days of driving, check the level of the mixture. If it is lower than when you first poured it into the radiator then fill it up. If the level of the mixture has depleted drastically you should bring your vehicle to your local mechanic.