How to Check the Coolant Level in Your Car

Coolant Car Check

No one wants to be stranded in Winterset by an overheated radiator, busted hose, or, even worse, a broken head gasket. A good way to avoid that is to check the coolant level in your car on a regular basis. But how do you do that? And, what is coolant, anyway? Our service center is here to help, so we’ve put together this handy guide on how to check the coolant level in your car.

What is Coolant?

So, what is coolant? Is it the same as antifreeze? It’s actually antifreeze mixed with water (you should never pour pure antifreeze into your radiator). Coolant runs through the radiator, the water pump, and connecting hoses to keep the engine from overheating. Colder weather calls for more antifreeze in the mix, and warmer weather, like we get during hot Des Moines summers, calls for more water.

How to Check Coolant Level

The sight of steam coming out from under your hood can be a scary one. The first inclination of some Indianola drivers has been to open the lid of the radiator while it’s still hot. Opening a radiator when the engine is still hot can result in serious burns. Fortunately, you don’t have to remove the radiator cap just to check the fluid. You’ll want to follow the steps below to check the coolant in a safe way

How to Check the Coolant Level in Your Car

  1. Locate the plastic reservoir. The reservoir will be a partially clear plastic container that is connected by a hose to the radiator. There should be markings along the side.
  2. Check where the fluid level is compared to the markings on the reservoir. If the fluid level reaches the “full” mark, the coolant level is fine.
  3. Refill the coolant if necessary. If the fluid falls short of the “full” line, top off the coolant.

How to Refill the Coolant

  1. Make sure there is no more steam coming from the radiator and that the radiator cap does not feel warm. 
  2. Turn the ignition to “on”, but do not turn on the engine.
  3. Check the oil pressure gauge to make sure the car has cooled.
  4. Mix the coolant with water if necessary. Check the label to see if your coolant is pre-mixed. If not, mix it with water to a 50/50 ratio. Never fill your radiator with pure coolant.
  5. Turn on the engine. This seems counter-intuitive, but you want the coolant circulating as you fill the radiator. It will only circulate while the engine is running.
  6. Fill the radiator with mixed coolant. Fill the radiator up to where the cap goes. Replace the cap.

Let the Radiator Experts at DeYarman Ford Indianola Help

A car that is overheating needs to be serviced as soon as possible. So, schedule an appointment with us or bring your car into our service center. If you found this guide helpful, check out our other automotive tips and advice. We’re just down the road from Norwalk and we’re here to help. So, contact us today!

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