Why anti-freeze is so important for your 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 is your anti-freeze. Here’s our explanation of what it does and why it’s important to the health of your vehicle.
What is anti-freeze?
Anti-freeze is a coloured liquid that is mixed with water to prevent it from freezing & to regulate the temperature of your vehicle’s engine. As the temperature outside changes from hot to cold, coolant is pumped throughout your engine block to maintain an even temperature.
Antifreeze has the capability to also raise the boiling point of the engine coolant in order to prevent it from overheating. It also protects your engine from corrosion, aids heat transfer and prevents rust & scales from building up.
Different vehicles require different types of anti-freeze so it’s important to check the anti-freeze is suitable for your vehicle before you use it.
Are anti-freeze and coolant the same thing?
There are multiple types of antifreeze available for our vehicles. Different formulations come in a variety of colours that range from green and blue to bright pink. Some are sold as concentrated forms, whilst others are ready mixed solutions.
Anti-freeze and coolant are very similar and do the same job but have different concentrations.
- Anti-freeze is concentrated and needs to be diluted with water before use. This would often be around 50% concentrated antifreeze with around 50% water.
- Engine coolant is ready mixed and so can be used without the need to dilute.
How often should anti-freeze be checked?
Advice does vary slightly between vehicle manufacturers, but as a general rule antifreeze 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 or if you see a warning light on your dashboard.
- Check at least twice a year
- Before summer & winter
- Whenever you see a coolant warning light
- Antifreeze is checked during interim & full servicing
How to top up anti-freeze
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.
- Check the type of anti-freeze is suitable for your vehicle
- Ensure your car engine is cool
- Check the minimum & maximum lines
- Use a rag and/or protective gloves to remove the reservoir cap
- Fill to the line recommended in your handbook
- DO NOT overfill as this can lead to damage
When it comes to draining & replacing the anti-freeze altogether, advice varies depending on the vehicle manufacturer. It’s generally recommended to have an antifreeze change after around 30,000 miles. Take a look in your handbook for specific advice for your vehicle.