There are several liquids that play a regular role in your vehicle’s operation, from well-known examples like oil down to several others. One that’s especially important for your car’s simple operations, and needs some regular attention in most cases as a result, is engine coolant.
At Tip Top Transmissions, we’re happy to provide a wide range of auto repair services, including many that involve liquids — such as oil changes, coolant flushes and more. What exactly is engine coolant, and why does it pay to have this coolant flushed on a periodic basis? Let’s dive in.
What is Engine Coolant?
For those just learning about the ins-and-outs of how a car works, engine coolant is often one of the first things to learn about. Essentially, it’s a liquid that helps keep your vehicle’s engine running at an optimum temperature — too hot and you might burn out a vital component like a piston; too cold and your car or truck will stutter along.
Most engines are made of aluminum, a metal that doesn’t conduct heat well. To help move heat away from the “heat source” (the engine), coolant is used with a special mixture of additives that keep it from breaking down over time and keep it from corroding your vehicle’s system. Depending on your car or truck, you may have a coolant that is colored green, orange or yellow in this mixture.
What Happens During a Coolant Flush?
During a coolant flush, the mechanic will drain all of your car’s old engine coolant, replacing it with new — this helps keep corrosion away and also give you better performance. The mechanic should also replace any other liquid in your vehicle that is part of its cooling system during this process.
Our next several sections will go over some of the major areas of value of having your coolant flushed periodically by our mechanics.
Removes Rust, Scale and Other Buildup
Over time, engine coolant will become more and more acidic, as the additives that help it have a neutral pH slowly break down. This acid can eat away at your engine’s metal parts and other components, leading to damage that can be costly to fix.
Having a mechanic flush out your engine coolant on a regular basis, however, helps keep this buildup of lead and other materials from happening. In some cases, this is a vital step for maintaining your auto’s long-term health and avoiding repairs that may not be cheap.
When engine coolant builds up with rust, scale and other materials over time, it won’t be able to do its job as well — it will lose its ability to absorb heat from your engine and transfer it away. This can lead to overheating, a major problem for any vehicle given the stress on its various parts.
Maintaining coolant that is clean, properly mixed with other chemicals and able to do its job consistently will help you avoid this problem — getting a flush done regularly by our professionals is a great way to accomplish this.
Additives and Water Pump
Not only this, but engine coolant also contains a few vital additives that help to lubricate your vehicle’s water pump, which is another vital component of your car’s cooling system. Without these additives, the water pump could become clogged or corroded over time — leading to higher stress on all other components of your vehicle’s engine and even overheating.
Maintaining regular flushes can eliminate this problem, keeping your water pump working at its best and continuing to operate with the correct levels of coolant.
Allows for Other Part Inspection
The theme of killing two (or more) birds with one stone is a common one in the realm of auto repair, and engine coolant flushes are no exception. In addition to giving you clean and optimized engine coolant, a professional flush will also allow your mechanic to check on other parts of your vehicle’s cooling system — such as the hoses and belts that keep everything moving smoothly.
If one of these components is damaged, it can be replaced without much downtime on your vehicle — and without costing you a ton of money.
Prevents Overheating Issues Down the Road
Finally, regular flushes that keep engine coolant in optimum shape can also help prevent overheating issues from occurring down the road, even if it’s not happening right now. By checking out everything about your vehicle’s cooling system, our mechanics can help prevent future problems that could be potentially costly.
How Often Should Coolant Be Flushed?
There’s technically no singular answer here, as the frequency with which you’ll want to get a flush done depends on a few different factors. However, most mechanics agree that if your vehicle is more than five years old or has traveled over 100,000 miles, it’s probably time for an engine coolant flush — and possibly even sooner in some cases.
At the very least, flushing your engine coolant every other year is a good way to keep your vehicle running smoothly without having to worry too much about future repairs being necessary. And if your vehicle is experiencing any direct issues that relate to coolant, such as overheating or an unusually high level of gas emissions, it’s always best to get the problem checked out right away.
For more on this important area, or to learn about any of our other auto mechanic or auto repair services, speak to our team at Tip Top Transmissions today.