Debbie's Tip of the Week
Tip #1 Checking your antifreeze
Checking your Antifreeze
It is important to check your antifreeze throughout the year but coming into winter time our vehicles are at an increased risk due to below freezing temperatures. Your radiator requires antifreeze to help cut down on corrosion within the radiator and to keep your engine from overheating.
Below freezing temperatures can be damaging to your car’s engine if the water in your radiator is allowed to freeze. As water freezes it expands and can blow the soft plugs in your radiator, if this happens your radiator will no longer hold water/antifreeze. In addition to the water freezing in your radiator you can potentially have severe engine damage such as a cracked block or head that can cost a few thousand dollars to repair.
To check your radiator’s antifreeze level you will need to purchase a hydrometer/antifreeze tester, you can purchase both the hydrometer and the antifreeze at your local automotive parts store for approximately $15.00 which is rather cheap for preventative maintenance considering the alternative.
***DO NOT touch the radiator while your engine is warm, hot or anywhere in between!!***
When your engine is cool press down on the radiator cap and give it a turn to remove the cap. (If your radiator fluid is red and full of rust you will definitely want to take your vehicle in and have your radiator flushed).
Check the hydrometer and find the fill line. It can be difficult to see when you are extracting the fluid so you may want to draw a line across the fill line with a black sharpie. Squeeze the air out of the hydrometer ball and insert the tube into the radiator, gently release the ball and fill the hydrometer to the fill line with the fluid from the radiator. The hydrometer will have a gage inside that will rise and fall depending upon the amount of antifreeze in your radiator. Depending upon the region in which you live you will want a sufficient amount of antifreeze to accommodate the below zero temperatures. A good rule of thumb is to keep the gage registering between -35° and -45° if you go over the -45° mark it is just fine.
If you find that you are lacking a sufficient amount of antifreeze consult your owner’s manual or YouTube a video of how to drain your radiator or this might be a great opportunity to take your car into your mechanic and have the radiator flushed and they can fill your radiator with the appropriate amount of antifreeze. Remove some of the current liquid in your radiator and make sure the drain plug is tightly replaced. Taking your vehicle to your mechanic is probably the best option if you have never had your radiator flushed or if you have just purchased your vehicle and do not have the maintenance history available.