Things to Know About Vehicle Antifreeze - Service Information at Capitol Chevrolet

Even though it's absolutely critical for your engine's functioning, it's easy to overlook coolant. This may be partly because it's not a fluid that needs frequent replacement like oil. Nevertheless, we think it's a good idea to know more about coolant, from what it is to how often it should be changed. That's why we've put together this informational page. Learn more below, and feel free to contact us with any other questions.

Temperature gauge with needle in the red

5. What Is Coolant?

Coolant is the lifeblood of your vehicle's cooling system. Internal combustion engines produce an incredible amount of heat--enough heat to damage the engine if left unmitigated. It's the cooling system that helps keep the engine cool enough to avoid damage. When the engine reaches operating temperature, the thermostat will open, and the water pump will circulate coolant throughout the system. The coolant is a fluid that picks up the excess heat from the engine. Once it has the heat, it will go to the radiator to be cooled off. After it has been cooled down, it will exit the radiator and begin the whole process again.

Checking vehicle coolant

4. Is Coolant the Same Thing as Antifreeze?

Yes and no. A number of liquids can technically serve as an engine coolant. In fact, in the earliest days of automobiles, water was used as coolant. It did the job well, for the most part . . . until the temperature dropped below freezing. To keep the coolant from turning into ice, chemicals were added to drop the freezing point. These days, coolant is usually a roughly 50/50 mixture of water and those antifreeze additives (usually ethylene glycol, though other chemicals can be used). Rust-inhibiting agents can also be added to coolant.

So, technically antifreeze is just a part of coolant. However, the terms are usually used interchangeably. If you hear a technician talk about checking your vehicle's antifreeze levels, it doesn't mean that they're going to test the chemical composition of the coolant. It simply means that they will make sure your engine has enough coolant.

3. How Can I Check My Car's Coolant Levels?

On that subject: checking coolant levels is something you can, and probably should, do for yourself. This is an easy fluid to check, so we recommend doing it regularly. When your engine is cold, open up the hood and find the coolant reservoir. It should be translucent, with a minimum fill line on the side. If your coolant is above that line, your levels are fine.

Coolant replacement

2. Can I Use Any Type of Coolant In My Vehicle?

We don't recommend it. All GM vehicles use a special type of coolant known as ACDelco® DEX-COOL®. This coolant is designed to last longer, resist corrosion better, and protect the engine better at high temperatures. Using non-OEM coolant means that your vehicle might not get the same benefits. What's more, mixing two types of coolants is inadvisable.

1. How Often Does My Vehicle Need a Coolant Flush?

The owner's manual in most modern Chevy vehicles recommends a coolant drain and replacement every 150,000 miles. However, even the long-lasting DEX-COOL® coolant may begin to break down before that, particularly if it's subjected to higher heat (for example, if you use your vehicle to tow frequently). To get a better idea of how often you should actually have the coolant changed, talk to a service advisor at an authorized Chevrolet dealership.



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