There are a few simple and easy measures you can take yourself to keep your cars running in tip-top condition. The majority of car owners resort to their regular (or postponed) oil changes or safety & registration appointments to perform basic maintenance and troubleshooting. They feel like it's best to leave it to the experts, and that any issues will be easily taken care of in due time. However, if you can learn a few basic car maintenance tips you can ensure that your car doesn't fall behind or develop serious problems. You can also save yourself both time and money! One of the easiest maintenance tricks you can learn yourself is to check your own coolant.
Coolant or antifreeze is a key component in your car’s radiator. The radiator keeps your engine from overheating or increasing to unsafe levels of friction. It contains water and therefore also needs some type of chemical compound to keep the water from freezing during cold months. Water expands when frozen, which would break or crack the radiator. It’s essential to have enough antifreeze in your radiator to prevent the water from freezing and damaging your radiator. Checking the antifreeze levels regularly will keep your engine safe, and it’s particularly important as we head into the cold Utah winter.
How to Check your Own Coolant or Antifreeze
1. Pop your hood - sometimes it’s a button inside the car and also includes a small latch that needs to be tripped just inside the hood.
2. Locate the Radiator and Coolant Container. It’s usually a small plastic bottle with a visible cap. The location can vary within different cars, but the plastic bottle and cap should be relatively easy to locate with some looking.
3. Check the fluid level lines on the side of the bottle. There is a “full” line that indicates how much coolant your radiator requires. Assess how much, if any, is needed.
4. Mix coolant (you can buy it any auto supply store) with an equal part of water. Unless your coolant is pre-mixed - then it can go straight into the coolant reservoir. Make sure you read the label very carefully.
5. Add the coolant only to a cooled engine. Never add coolant to an engine that is hot or has recently been driving, because that’s dangerous.
6. Set a reminder to check your coolant again in a couple of months, or sooner if your car is older or your climate is particularly cold.