Cooling System in Mooresville, NC
At STR Automotive, we have a top of the line coolant flush machine with adapters for all makes and models including European vehicles such as Mercedes Benz, BMW, and Audi. Our technicians are trained and have experience in servicing the cooling system in all makes and models. Failures to the cooling system are the number one cause of breakdowns. We’ve put together this FAQ to help our customers understand why having their cooling system serviced on a regular basis will help them avoid a breakdown due to a cooling system failure.
What is Coolant?
Also referred to as antifreeze, coolant is the liquid that carries the heat caused by the engine’s combustion away from the engine in order to maintain the optimal operating temperature for performance and fuel economy. It also serves a second purpose in that it is the liquid used in the vehicle’s HVAC system to provide heat to the vehicle’s passengers.
Water is actually a better liquid in terms of cooling ability than coolant/antifreeze, but water suffers from one major drawback, it’ll freeze. The cooling system is completely full and void of air, so if the coolant were to freeze it would not have room to expand as it froze. This would cause gaskets and even the engine itself to break from the pressure. This is why antifreeze is used in conjunction with water, typically in a 50/50 mixture.
What is a Coolant Flush?
A coolant flush refers to the process of removing the old coolant and refilling the system with new coolant. The process begins by adding a cleaning chemical that is designed to dissolve rust build up. The system is then allowed to run for around 15 minutes to circulate the chemical and give it some time to work it’s magic. After that, it’s time for the actual exchange of coolant.
The coolant machine is hooked up the vehicle via one of the system’s hoses. The machine works by pumping out the old coolant, measuring the amount recovered, and then pumping the same amount of new coolant back into the system. This process usually takes around 20-30 minutes and uses 2-4 gallons of coolant depending on the system’s size.
The last step in the process is adding a conditioning chemical to the system. The conditioner has chemicals that add strength and elasticity back to the hoses and gaskets in the system in order to prevent leaks from forming.
A question we get often is why we can’t just drain the radiator and refill it. The answer is that we could, but it would not be as effective. The radiator hold around 30% of the cooling system’s total capacity. So by “draining and filling” the radiator, we are not removing the majority of the worn out coolant.
Why do I Need a Coolant Flush?
Coolant is naturally acidic, and acid doesn’t react well to metal or rubber which are the primary materials that the cooling system is constructed of. The other half of the coolant, water, has a bad habit of causing rust when in come in contact with metal. To counteract these effects, additives are added to the coolant to bring it to a neutral state and prevent rust. Unfortunately, these additives get used up through use and also deplete naturally over time. Once the additives are gone, the acidic coolant begins to corrode and eat away at the cooling system from the inside out. Eventually, this will cause leaks and or a clog due to rust build up.
Once the rust and corrosion has begun inside the system, it’s very difficult to get all of it out even with a coolant flush. This is why it is so important to have your coolant changed on schedule.
How Often Should I Change my Coolant?
There are multiple types of coolant used by manufacturers, and they last different lengths of time so there is no 1 correct answer to the question. It’s best to refer to your owner’s manual or ask one of the service advisors at STR. We have software that allows us to look up the needs of every vehicle.
With that being said, the general rule is that coolant should be changed at least every 5 years regardless of mileage. Some coolants require more frequent intervals. One thing that is generally overlooked in calculating when the coolant should be changed is that the car is manufactured in the year prior to the year it’s labeled. So for example, if you have a 2015 vehicle, it was manufactured in 2014. That means that you should have your coolant changed in 2019 not 2020.