How to top up your engine's coolant

Long summer days are notorious for bringing out streams of traffic. Whether heading to the beach, driving to the airport for your annual family holiday, or simply making the most of those long summer nights, those hot summer months can put as much strain on your vehicle as a harsh winter.

Before heading out on the road it’s worth spending some time thinking about seasonal maintenance. Top of your list must be checking your engine’s cooling system to prevent overheating – the number one cause of summer breakdowns.

So here’s what you need to do to:

Make Regular Checks

Modern cooling systems shouldn’t require constant top-ups but whatever the age of your vehicle, you need to make regular checks, and always remember to let your engine fully cool down before getting under the bonnet, or risk frying your fingertips and adding insult to injury. (Or is that injury to insult?)

Check the Cooling System

Many cooling system problems are the result of poor airflow around the radiator, so begin by clearing out any leaves or other debris that has accumulated, also check the radiator and hoses for leaks and cracks. Check that the coolant reservoir, a clear plastic container, is adequately topped up – ideally it should be somewhere between the minimum and maximum level.

Top Up the Coolant

To top up, gently unscrew the cap to release any pressure that may have built-up. There are a variety coolants on the market, so check your handbook to review the recommended product for your engine (and never mix products together). Generally one mixes the coolant with water to a ratio of 50:50, but read the instructions carefully – some coolants are supplied ready mixed, so there’s no preparation required before topping-up. Pour this coolant into the reservoir to the required level, then replace the cap and secure it tightly.

Replace the Coolant

Drivers should renew coolant every two to five years for optimum performance – in addition to keeping the engine cool it also prevents corrosion and freezing, and lubricates the water pump. To renew coolant, open the radiator drain tap, flush the system with fresh water, close the drains, refit any hoses and refill with the appropriate water/coolant mix.

Following these tips can help ensure your summer holidays are a joyous occasion instead of a sweltering nightmare stranded on the side of the road.  Although we can’t help you with the constant cries of “are we there yet?” we are always happy to be of assistance when it comes to maintaining your vehicle.