When Should Automotive Engine Coolant Be Replaced?

Engine coolant goes by many names, including radiator fluid, radiator coolant, or antifreeze. No matter what you call it, engine coolant is one of the most vital car fluids for any vehicle. It is a combination of antifreeze and water (usually a 50/50 mix), and serves a number of purposes for a car.

First, it runs through a vehicle’s radiator to remove any excess heat and prevent the engine from overheating. Next, since it contains antifreeze chemicals, it prevents it from freezing up in cold temperatures. But also, engine coolant prevents corrosion and works as a lubricant to the water pump and other internal workings.

So as you can see, radiator fluid is very important for a car or truck to operate safely and effectively. Continue reading to learn when your vehicle’s engine coolant should be changed, as well as, factory car maintenance scheduling, and more!

Radiator Fluid Flushes

Changing or replacing the radiator fluid in your vehicle is referred to as coolant flush. Regular coolant flushes are vital for your vehicle because it inhibits corrosion, prevents over-heating, and provides lubrication to the internal workings of your engine’s water pump, radiator, and heater core.

To properly identify when your coolant is dirty, you must first know what the color of the fluid is when brand new. The primary colors of engine coolant are yellow, orange, green, and black. Check the color of your radiator fluid once every week. When this color starts to change, you know it’s time to change your radiator fluid. But the most noticeable sign that it is time to replace the coolant is when your engine starts to overheat. The temperature gauge on your car’s dashboard will tell you how hot the engine is getting, and if you start to see smoke, it’s gone too far!

Never operate a vehicle with an overheating engine. Not only is this extremely dangerous, it causes significant damage to the engine. This can result in a costly repair, engine replacement, or even a totaled vehicle. As soon as you are aware your engine is overheating, take it to an auto so immediately and have it serviced.

All fluids should be changed, flushed, and replaced regularly for all vehicles. The general factory car maintenance schedule is every 3,000 miles or 6 months, whichever comes first. This includes motor oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, battery fluid, windshield wiper fluid, and in some cases, even transfer case lubricants. But engine coolant does not need to be replaced this often. Most manufacturers suggest flushing the coolant every 24,000 to 36,000 miles, or once every 2 to 3 years. But if you are driving in hot climates or long distances regularly, then once per year is a better schedule.

Consult a licensed automotive service and repair technician for information regarding your make and model vehicle’s factory maintenance schedule.