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Fluids, Heat and Air Conditioning

How Often Should I Change My Coolant?

For regular antifreeze, vehicle manufacturers recommend coolant changes every two to three years or 30,000 miles, whichever comes first. For maximum protection against corrosion and overheating/freezing of the motor, radiator coolant should be changed at least once a year. This is especially necessary in vehicles that have aluminum parts including blocks, heads, and/or radiator cooling systems.

The life of antifreeze depends on its ability to inhibit corrosion. Chemicals within the antifreeze prevent such corrosion in the motor and radiator, and over time these chemicals will be depleted. Aluminum is more susceptible to this corrosion due to its metallurgic make-up, but is more efficient at cooling parts of the motor than traditional brass or copper.

One way to find out if it's time to change the coolant is to check the level in the radiator or coolant reservoir. There are also test strips available at car care stores to check the alkalinity of the coolant solution, and based off the instructions and results given at the end of the test you may need to change your radiator coolant.

Coolant replacement

The best way to change the radiator coolant for maximum protection is to reverse flush the motor. Just draining the fluid may leave up to half of the old coolant still in the engine block. A 50/50 mixture of [distilled] water and antifreeze is recommended for almost all applications. A mixture of 70% antifreeze and 30% water may be used for maximum protection in extreme cold conditions, but never use more than 70% antifreeze. The opposite is true in very warm weather conditions; a 30% antifreeze 70% water is preferable as distilled water is a better coolant than antifreeze. Check out the video below for more cooling system maintenance tips.

How to Purge and Burp a Cooling System

Caution: Tap water or drinking water should NEVER be used in the 50/50 mixture as it offers no corrosion, freezing, or boilover protection, and will void the warranty.