Tips for keeping your car running in colder weather
Courtesy of ARA Content
Baby, it may be cold outside, but inside your car’s engine, it’s hot as blazes. Even when temperatures dip, your vehicle’s coolant system works hard to keep the engine cool and running smoothly. It’s important to take care of your cooling system, whatever the weather.
Antifreeze helps keep a car engine running smoothly, despite the temperature outside. When a car engine starts, coolant is pumped around the engine to either warm it up or cool it down. In addition to keeping the car at the ideal temperature, many antifreeze products on the market today, such as PEAK Long Life Antifreeze and Coolant, also have extra additives to help prevent corrosion and expensive engine breakdowns.
Because it’s an important part of keeping your engine running smoothly, it’s essential to take care of your antifreeze. It’s not too difficult a task, and you can even save a few bucks by doing it yourself. Here are 10 easy steps to change your own antifreeze:
• Clean the radiator. As you drive, the cooling system of your car sucks in air, bugs, dirt, leaves and other debris along with it. It’s important to clean it so air can easily pass through the radiator.
• Place a drip pan under the car. Antifreeze is not meant for ingestion, either by humans or animals. Using a drip pan will allow for easy disposal and keep the process safe.
• Remove the radiator pressure cap. When the engine has cooled, place a rag on the radiator cap and twist off. You’ll need to press down firmly with the heel of your hand, and perform two quarter turns to the left, one to unlock it, and another to remove the cap.
• Inspect the pressure cap and hoses. The radiator cap helps keep the coolant properly pressurized. If it is rusting or dried out, replace it with a new one. Also look at the radiator hoses and check for leaks, cracks or soft and mushy conditions. Replace if necessary.
• Drain the radiator. On the bottom of the radiator, release the valve and let the fluid spill into the pre-placed drip pan. Pour the drained antifreeze into a container that meets disposal regulations for your area.
• Flush the radiator and cooling system. This may be the easiest and most fun step of the process. Simply take out the garden hose and flush out the system. For the first “flush,” collect the rinse and dispose of it with the used antifreeze. Continue rinsing until the drained water is clear.
• Add the coolant and water mixture. The ideal mix is 50 percent antifreeze and 50 percent distilled water. You can either mix them by filling the radiator halfway with one and topping it off with the other, or pre-mix the two together in a separate container.
• Bleed the system. Replacing the coolant often creates air pockets in the fluids that should be removed before going out for a drive. To even out the levels, run the engine for about 15 minutes. At the same time, turn the heat on high to help circulate the coolant. Upon completion, carefully check the coolant levels and top them off if needed.
• Replace the pressure cap. Line up the tabs on the cap with the cutouts of the fill spout and press down firmly. Twist the cap to the right to secure it.
• Clean up. Coolant is essentially a toxic chemical, so it is important to clean up appropriately. Use a hose to dilute any spills and dispose of the old antifreeze according to your area’s EPA guidelines.
When all is said and done, changing your own antifreeze should take a couple hours and could save you up to $50. For more information, visit peakauto.com.
From the Dec. 16-22, 2009 issue