Why anti-freeze is so important for you vehicle
As we head into winter and the temperatures drop below freezing you’ll need to start thinking about how to keep your car running throughout the colder months. One think you’ll need to check in your anti-freeze, here’s what it does and why it’s important to the health of your vehicle.
What is anti-freeze?
Anti-freeze, otherwise known as engine coolant, is a coloured liquid that is mixed with water to help regulate your engine during extremely cold temperatures. As the temperature outside changes from hot to cold, coolant is pumped throughout your engine block to maintain an even temperature. As well as being able to prevent the water in the car engine’s cooling system from freezing, antifreeze also has a number of different abilities to help your car keep to its best performance.
Antifreeze has the capability to also raise the boiling point of the engine coolant in order to prevent it from overheating. Not to mention it can also protect your engine from corrosion, aid heat transfer and prevent scales from building up.
The different types of anti-freeze
There are multiple types of antifreeze available for our vehicles, too. There are concentrated forms, as well as ready mixed. Ready mixed versions are often referred to as engine coolant and can be used in your vehicle for top-ups and replacements straightaway. If you buy the concentrated form of antifreeze, you’ll need to dilute it with water before it is used. This would often be around 50% concentrated antifreeze with around 50% water.
However, this can differ, so it’s important you check the instructions. In standard weather conditions, from spring to autumn, water that has been mixed with corrosion inhibitors would be enough to keep the engine cool and to supply heat to the car. In extreme weather conditions however, such as when the weather turns to frost and snow, we need antifreeze to help us do this. Antifreeze helps where water alone cannot stop a car from freezing or an engine from overheating.
How often should anti-freeze be checked?
Advice on how often you need to check your anti-freeze does vary slightly between vehicle manufacturers, but as a general rule it should be checked at least twice a year, before summer & winter. It should be topped up whenever the anti-freeze level drops below the guide marks.
Your vehicle’s anti-freeze reservoir should be easy to identify by its coloured lid which often has a warning symbol on the cap to highlight the danger of unscrewing the cap when the engine is running or hot.
When it comes to draining & replacing the anti-freeze altogether, advice varies depending on the vehicle manufacturer. It’s generally recommended after a minimum of 30,000 miles depending on how old your car is. Take a look in your vehicle handbook for specific advice on your vehicle.
If you notice any rust or discolouring in your coolant – it will need to be changed straight away.
Anti-freeze is checked and topped up in both Full & Interim Servicing which is one of the reasons why having a vehicle service before the onset of winter is advisable.