Driver's Guide

How to Put Coolant in Car

Coolant is an important liquid required by your vehicle to cool the engine. So, this article reveals how to put coolant in car.

You may have to add 50% coolant/antifreeze to the reservoir in some modern cars. The reservoir is translucent, indicating various coolant levels. It also has two hoses connecting to the radiator below the cap.

Meanwhile, when the car engine is still hot, do not open the radiator cap. The pressure in the tank can cause a splash that causes severe burns. Just wait for the engine to cool off or prepare to add coolant in the morning.

Where do you put coolant in a car?

Where you put coolant/antifreeze depends on the vehicle. You’d put coolant typically in the reserve tank or reservoir. Note that coolant and antifreeze are used interchangeably. The proper level of coolant and coolant liquid can cool the motor compared to water, which freezes at a freezing point. As mentioned earlier, avoid the radiator when the engine is still hot because of the high pressure inside the circuit.

How to Put Coolant in Car

This section covers the steps to add coolant/antifreeze in a car. Below are the steps regarding how to put coolant in a car:

  1. Open the Vehicle Hood

First, open the hood of your vehicle if the engine was off. If the engine has been running recently, you should cancel the coolant application plan. You may use the period to inspect the car for damages.

  1. Drain Old Coolant

If there is a need, you may drain coolant from your engine block if you’re flushing.  The coolant draining should also take place while the engine is in a cold state.

  1. Allow the Engine to Cool Off

When the engine cools off, you can go for the fill cap. Opening a hot radiator can have you scaled, and you do not want that to happen.

  1. Get Coolant

Depending on your car, you would require a coolant suitable for performance or follow the user’s manual recommendation.

Make sure to know the coolant you are using for your vehicle. Note that the coolant you buy must match your motor vehicle specification. Some car owners use a special no water system. You may put premixed coolant into the coolant reservoir directly, the white translucent tank with a cap and colorful liquid.

If you are using concentrated coolant, ensure a 50/50 mixture of water and coolant/antifreeze as it meets the OEM recommendation. Meanwhile, you should find out how much coolant your car needs when empty. You do not want to put excessive coolant, which can result in overheating.

  1. Use Funnel

Again, ensure to use the coolant that meets the specifications of your vehicle. Some GM models, for instance, use a proprietary coolant known as Dex-Cool. You’d also need a funnel to put the coolant in your car.

  1. Put the Coolant

Before you put coolant in the car, inspect the reservoir and hoses for leaks. If the reservoir system has no leaks and contains coolant, additional coolant will go to the coolant overflow tank. If your radiator is empty on coolant, it should take up the coolant in the tank.

To put coolant in the car, pour it into the overflow tank. You would find a full and add level lines on the reservoir—just put the coolant between the lines.

If the level is below the reservoir fill line, you can add coolant. Make sure to fill its maximum fill line. Do not overfill; the reservoir is an overflow tank by the cooling system of the vehicle.

After putting the coolant in the car, tighten the radiator cap. Not tightening the coolant can degrade the performance of the cooling system, resulting in overheating.

  1. Start the Car

Finally, close the hood of your vehicle and fire the engine. Now, you just added coolant/ to your car. If your car overheats again or the check engine light comes on, make sure to contact a mechanic. Sometimes, the radiator, head gasket, temperature gauge, etc., can be the culprit.

Can you put coolant if car is running?

Yes, you can put coolant if a car is running. In most modern cars, however, you will put antifreeze in the remote expansion tank, which keeps you from removing the radiator cap. The engine of the running car should be cool or warm when putting the coolant. Do not attempt to remove the radiator cap to add coolant fluid to the radiator while the running engine is hot.

Typically, the coolant expands when it heats up and flows into the expansion tank of the car. However, when the fluid and engine are cool, the flow volume decreases, and fluid gets back from the expansion tank to the radiator.

How long after adding coolant can I drive?

You can drive the car after adding coolant. Regarding how long you should wait to drive after adding coolant, there is no specific time. Once there is coolant in the car at the proper level, get the engine running to begin overheating inspection.

How often should I put coolant in my car?

Most experts recommend changing your car coolant after every 30,000 miles. Some vehicle owners barely change the coolant, and manufacturers even recommend it. Your user manual can recommend putting a new coolant after between 30,000 and 70,000 miles or more. It can also recommend keeping the coolant permanently, which is OK since it is reserved in a closed system.

Final Thoughts

If you have antifreeze leftover in your vehicle, you can put 50 percent coolant/antifreeze and 50 percent water mix in the overflow container to the fill mark on the side.

As mentioned earlier, a typical radiator is a closed system. Make sure to check the radiator and hoses for leaks. And if your coolant runs low often, there is a leak, and it must be fixed ASAP.

Finally, note that coolant is deadly for pet consumption. Pets would typically attempt to drink from a coolant container since it appears as good to them. Make sure to dispose of unused coolant properly or seal the container properly to safeguard your pet life.

Latest posts by Bernard Juchli (see all)

Bernard Juchli

Bernard Juchli is an experienced racer, mechanic and team owner who trusts Avon Tyres.Bernard is the lead driver and force behind his Big Dog Garage Race Team. He is the General Manager and Chief Mechanic of Jay Leno’s Garage. Bernard and his crew of seven are responsible for all repairs, restoration and fabrication of Jay’s incredible automobile and motorcycle collection.

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