Low coolant on Chrysler Town and Country.

Getting your car cooling system ready for winter

In Cooling System by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

As the cooler months set in, many are beginning to think about upcoming family gatherings, festivities, and tasks that need to be completed before the end of the year. 

In the midst of the holiday season, car maintenance can be overlooked.

Many changes occur with the drop of temperatures. It’s important to make sure that your vehicle is ready.

Checking the coolant level

Looking over the fluid levels is one of our winter preparation recommendations. Coolant is among the fluids that you should check.

Antifreeze, which travels between the engine and radiator, prevents an engine from overheating. Ensuring that it’s at the right level helps point out any present coolant leaks.

There are different kinds of coolant leaks.

You can have an external leak, which has to do with a radiator, coolant hose or engine gasket. Internal leaks may be related to a bad head gasket or a cracked cylinder head. In this case, coolant could be burning out through the tailpipe. If the radiator cap isn’t sealing right, water could be steaming out of the cooling system over a period of time.

If coolant is leaking, checking the fluid level allows you to address the problem before it gets worse – or before you find yourself stranded with an overheating car.

The right coolant for your car cooling system

Different types coolant for car cooling systems.In addition to reviewing the coolant level, it’s crucial to make sure the right type of antifreeze is being used in your car cooling system.

There is a misconception that antifreeze is green, and that green means good. In reality, coolant comes in an array of colors, including red, pink, orange and blue. 

The kind that should be used depends on the car and the metal its engine is made with. Certain kinds of metal require specific types of antifreeze. 

For example, red coolant is typically used on Toyotas. Meanwhile, the antifreeze that a European vehicle needs may be blue or a green that appears yellow.

When an auto repair shop or automotive professional is performing any cooling system repairs or work on your vehicle, confirm that they are using the right, high quality coolant.

Temperature protection level

You also need antifreeze with a good temperature protection level.

Coolant temperature range chart.If you go to the store, 100 percent antifreeze is one of the options available. You may also buy a 50/50 mix, which is 50 percent antifreeze and 50 percent water. This combination can bring the temperature protection level to as low as negative 34 F and up to 265 F. 

Depending on where you are in the country and the world, you may mix a little more water or a little less water to adjust the temperature protection level. The protection level for those traveling in Canada will differ from Florida drivers.

It’s important to note that you want to use distilled water, not tap water. Sometimes, the minerals in the hard water can actually break down or kill the organic materials in some of the antifreezes. That could lead to other problems, such as sludging.

As you prepare for the colder months, make sure your car cooling system is taken care of and that you have a knowledgeable automotive expert you can take your car to, in case an unexpected problem arises.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located near Dumfries, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including BMW and Mercedes. Services include oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.