Take a stroll down the coolant aisle at any big-box parts retailer and you’ll see dozens of choices. Of course, there are the various brands being offered, but in addition to brands, there are different formulations. Think adding a green coolant to a green coolant is OK? Think again!
Now add in the idea of “lifetime” coolants. Are they truly able to last the life of the vehicle? How do you know when a lifetime coolant (or any coolant, for that matter) needs to be replaced? The service manual specifies a time/mileage interval, but it is often possible that the coolant has lost its ability to do its job long before that service interval is reached. And if the coolant is found to be deficient well before it should be, it is just as important to identify and correct the reason for the premature death.
Coolant has important work to do. In addition to aiding in the removal of damaging heat, it is also there to lubricate moving parts in the system and prevent the build up of nasty deposits that could choke the system’s ability to move the coolant in and out of the engine, heater core or radiator. Different engine designs require different additive packages and using the wrong one in any given application could actually lead to premature component or system failures.
And the coolant is only half the equation – literally. Since coolant in the engine is a 50/50 mix of coolant and water, the water you use can also be the cause of more problems than you started with.
In the May 2016 edition of The Trainer, we’ll talk about the different types of coolants and how to test them for serviceability. We’ll also show you how to identify and correct the most common reasons coolants die a premature death using tools you likely already have in your toolbox. While coolant service appears to be something that is “routine,” it is anything but — and failure to do it right could cause your customers more harm than good.