Seven Steps for Adding Antifreeze to your Car

Many fluids are required for your car to function properly. The antifreeze should be one of your most important fluids. If you don’t know how to add antifreeze to your vehicle or how often it should be done, this article is for you.

First, gather everything you need, then cool down the engine. Next, locate and fill the coolant reservoir. You can then check your antifreeze level and remove the cap. You should also inspect the system for leaks and other problems. 

The basics of antifreeze are covered, along with safety tips that should be followed. You will also find the steps for adding more antifreeze in our guide. 

Índice de Contenido
  1. Safety precautions for Antifreeze
  2. Here are 7 steps to add coolant to your vehicle
    1. 1. Collect Equipment
    2. 2. Cool Car Engine
    3. 3. Find Engine Coolant Reservoir
    4. 4. Check Antifreeze Levels
    5. 5. Remove Cap
    6. 6. You can also add the Antifreeze
    7. 7. You can check the system
  3. Antifreeze is what?
  4. What is the best time to add antifreeze?
  5. There are many types of antifreeze
  6. Compare Antifreeze and Coolant
  7. How can you tell if coolant levels drop without a leak?

Safety precautions for Antifreeze

You should be aware of safety measures when you are working with antifreeze. These are just a few.

  • Place your car on an even, flat surface to maintain it. 
  • The parking brake can be used to stop the car from moving during maintenance. It can be stabilized with wheel chocks.
  • Turn off the engine to add coolant. 
  • Before you remove the reservoir cap, make sure that your engine is completely cooled. If the engine is warm to the touch, it’s best to wait longer. 
  • When servicing your car, don't wear anything too loose. Roll up sleeves that are too long before you reach under the hood. 
  • Wear protective equipment. It’s best to have safety glasses and gloves on. To protect coolant staining, you can also wear dirty clothes and an apron.
  • Never ingest antifreeze. It can be extremely dangerous. In case you have accidentally swallowed coolant, call 911.
  • Antifreeze should be kept away from animals and children. Keep the coolant safe. 

It’s not difficult to service your own vehicle, but you always want to do so safely.

Here are 7 steps to add coolant to your vehicle

1. Collect Equipment

The vehicle will need a 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water. However, some pre-mixed formulas can be mixed. Pay attention to the label. It’s also important that you opt for the appropriate color based on what the manufacturer specifies. You can find antifreeze that’s colored blue, green, red, pink, yellow or orange. You can often find the manufacturer specs you need in the owner’s manual.

For a more straightforward job, it is important to make sure you have everything needed. You can make it more challenging if your coolant needs to be refilled while you walk away to get more. 

RELATED: Is it possible to mix different types of coolant? (Which Types?)

2. Cool Car Engine

It’s important to turn off the car engine and give it time to cool down. Antifreeze shouldn’t be added while the engine is hot. Most importantly, you don’t want to get burned by touching a hot engine. The reservoir cap may be too hot and can hold back liquids that reach boiling point.

A second reason is to be patient, as sudden temperature fluctuations can result in engine cracks. Engine repair costs could rise if the temperature is rapidly changed from warm to cool. 

Even if the engine has overheated and you need to add more antifreeze, it’s best to wait until the motor is cooler. You should allow the engine to cool for 15 minutes before you open the coolant caps. 

3. Find Engine Coolant Reservoir

Coolant Reservoir

It’s not hard to find the coolant reservoir. To make things easier, most brands have a colored cap. The cap should be yellow and have a warning to warn you against opening it when the engine heats up.

If you can’t find the plastic cap, look in your owner’s manual. The booklet will show you where all the important parts are, and even the location of the coolant cap. 

4. Check Antifreeze Levels

The antifreeze level should be easy to see without removing the cap. You can see on the reservoir the maximum and minimum lines. 

With the bright-colored coolant inside the translucent container, it’s easy to gauge. You must keep the coolant level between these markers. You can adjust the levels depending on how hot or cold your engine is, but they must be maintained between these two lines to ensure proper operation. 

5. Remove Cap

The reservoir cap can be removed if the reservoir needs to be topped up. The reservoir cap should come off easily, but be cautious.

Damage to the cap could cause cooling system problems. Use caution, so it doesn’t become damaged in the process. 

6. You can also add the Antifreeze

Now is the right time to dilute the antifreeze. Once you have the appropriate mixture, it’s time to add some into the system.

With the help of a funnel you can put the right amount of antifreeze inside the reservoir. When the antifreeze reaches the line between these indicator lines it will cease pouring. 

7. You can check the system

Now, tighten the cap and start the engine. Check the cooling system for leaks and other issues.

The engine can overheat if you don't act quickly if you detect a leak. If you don't, the engine will heat up and cause serious damage. Bleed the cooling system if the coolant was not nearly full.

RELATED: 5 Causes of a Coolant Leak (& How to Fix it)

Antifreeze is what?

Antifreeze, a type engine coolant responsible for maintaining motor temperatures is called. The antifreeze helps keep the radiator from boiling during warmer months. You can use it with liquids exceeding 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Antifreeze prevents liquids freezing when temperatures drop. 

It is necessary to use antifreeze in order to lubricate different components like the water pump. If there isn’t lubrication, permanent damage can occur. Antifreeze is also helpful in reducing corrosion.

The main components of antifreeze are propylene glycol (or ethylene glycol). You may find special additives for corrosion prevention and oxidation. But these additives make up less than 10%. 

What is the best time to add antifreeze?

If the level gets too low, you need to add more antifreeze. Generally, this shouldn’t occur unless there is a leak. 

It’s also important that you have the coolant changed after 60,000 miles. After the initial service, it is possible to schedule a replacement every 30,000 miles. You should follow the guidelines set out by your automaker. Some recommend different times. 

There are many types of antifreeze

IAT coolant has been one of most widely used. Inorganic additive technology has been in use for many decades. It provides excellent corrosion protection. This type is also known as ZEREX Original Green.

Dex-Cool can also be used, but it is primarily for GM vehicles. AlugardPlus is a special additive that can be used in older vehicles. This can be found in Multi-Vehicle Antifreeze. Reference the owner’s manual to find out what type of antifreeze is required for your vehicle. 

Compare Antifreeze and Coolant

Although coolant is often used interchangeably with antifreeze, it's not one and the same thing. The mixture of water and antifreeze is called coolant. It’s what’s needed to fill the cooling system. Propylene glycol and ethylene glycol are the two main ingredients in antifreeze. However, it needs to be diluted before it can work properly.

Antifreeze can be purchased in diluted form on store shelves. Also, you can find coolant already mixed. 

How can you tell if coolant levels drop without a leak?

If you notice that the antifreeze level has dropped too low, but there’s no leak, you could have some serious problems on your hands. In most cases, this situation means that the coolant is leaking internally into areas where it doesn’t belong.

One possible cause is a damaged head, manifold or head gasket, malfunctioning bores, or damage to the cylinder heads. These problems can lead to extensive engine repairs.

Related: What is the level of engine coolant? (Causes & Consequences) 

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