Why Should I Use Antifreeze All Year Round?
As we brace ourselves for winter and freezing temperatures, it’s time to think about how you can keep your car running without any major issues. Aside from the usual vehicle maintenance checks and regular servicing, you can’t ignore checking your antifreeze. Here’s a short guide on why it’s so important to use antifreeze all year round and not just in winter.
What Is Antifreeze?
Antifreeze is a coloured liquid that goes into the cooling system of your car which stops the water from freezing under normal cold weather conditions. It lowers the freezing point of the water so as the outside temperature drops, the antifreeze gets pumped throughout your engine to maintain a regulated temperature. As well as lowering the freezing point, antifreeze also raises the boiling point of the engine coolant which helps reduce the risk of overheating.
Is Antifreeze The Same As Coolant?
Antifreeze is a concentrated liquid and normally consists of glycol with certain inhibitors. Some types have to be diluted with water at a suitable concentration before you can use it. This diluted liquid is typically referred to as coolant. Anti-freeze and coolant are similar and whilst they perform the same function, there are different concentrations.
- Anti-freeze is concentrated and needs to be diluted with water before use (approximately 50% concentrate with 50% water)
- Engine coolant is readily mixed so you can use it without being diluted first
Why Is Anti-Freeze Important For Your Car?
As mentioned earlier, antifreeze is added to the water in an engine’s cooling system to lower the freezing point. If the water in your car’s cooling system froze, you could face some serious damage to the radiator and other components. As a trusted vehicle service centre with branches across the UK, we know firsthand the costs involved and we can’t stress enough the importance of checking and using antifreeze.
In addition to preventing water from freezing and raising the boiling point of the engine coolant, antifreeze also helps protect your engine from corrosion, promotes heat transfer and prevents scale from building up internally. Many cars manufactured after 1998 need antifreeze with silicate-free, organic acid (OAT) technology. Older cars usually require a more traditional type of antifreeze.
How Often Do You Check Your Engine Coolant?
While there’s no definitive answer as advice from vehicle manufacturers differ, a general rule is to check your engine coolant at least twice a year – before summer and winter. You should top it up as soon as the anti-freeze level drops below the guide marks or if there is a warning light on your dashboard. Antifreeze is also checked as part of an interim and full vehicle service.
How Do Top Up My Anti-Freeze?
You should easily be able to identify your car’s antifreeze reservoir by its coloured lid. It often has a warning symbol on the cap which highlights the danger of unscrewing the cap while the engine is running or hot. Here is a step-by-step guide on topping up your antifreeze:
- Check the type of anti-freeze your vehicle needs
- Ensure your engine is cool
- Pay attention to the minimum and maximum guidelines
- Use a cloth and/or protective gloves to remove the reservoir cap
- Fill to the recommended line as per your vehicle owner’s handbook
- NEVER overfill as this can result in serious damage
When draining and replacing anti-freeze, the intervals vary between different vehicle manufacturers but it’s generally recommended to change your antifreeze after approximately 30,000 miles. Consult your handbook for advice specific to your vehicle.
Need Help With Your Anti-freeze And Coolant?
You can buy antifreeze at almost any service centre but it’s important to get the best-suited coolant for your car. If you’re unsure about the type of antifreeze your car needs, visit your nearest Elite Garages branch where our trained professionals will gladly be of assistance.
While you’re there, why not book a free winter safety check to ensure your car is safe and ready for the colder and wetter weather. We provide top quality workmanship and a wide range of services so contact us today if you have any questions or would like more information.
For more motoring news, tips and other interesting topics, read our blog and join the conversation on social media. Speaking of vehicle maintenance, here’s a quick look at how often you should change your engine oil.