Most Common Car Problems: Overheating and How to Change Coolant
As you hop into your car and turn the engine on, you’re probably thinking about the fun times at the beach or even the night ahead. But the truth is that every single time you turn the ignition on, you’re essentially hoping the car works. If you fail to take good care of it through regular maintenance such as oil and fluid changes and changing things before they break, you are playing the lottery every time you get into your car. One of the most common car problems is car overheating and the main cause is simply caused by negligence. The best way is to change your engine coolant at regular intervals and along with that, replace the thermostat. Find out how to do this simple car DYI.
First and foremost, you must make sure your car engine is cool. Be sure to wear protective equipment, such as gloves and googles – the engine coolant is under pressure and it can spray and burn you if you open the radiator cap.
Once the engine is cool, go underneath the car and locate the radiator. Facing the car, the valve that releases the coolant is located bottom left. With a large pan directly underneath the radiator, unscrew the valve and the coolant will drain. Allow it to completely drain before twisting it close again.
The next step is replacing the thermostat. The thermostat is roughly $15 and is important, because it regulates the temperature of the engine. If it malfunctions, your car will either get too much coolant and run cool or it will be “closed” and your car will run really hot and overheat. Your car functions best at a certain temperature and having a cool engine is bad because the chance of moisture build up can occur within the motor oil, causing accelerated corrosion and sludge build up. Consult your manual on its location, but you essentially unscrew the nuts holding it in place and making careful note of the direction of the original thermostat, replace the unit and the gasket. Once done, reassemble everything together to original manufacture specifications.
Lastly, replace the coolant! Each car has a different capacity, so pay attention to how much coolant you will need. Also, note the mixture – engine coolant needs to be a 50/50 mixture of distilled water (to prevent calcification that will build up and impair the engine coolant) and the coolant. If you bought the pre-diluted mixture, you can skip this step. With the car off and the radiator top cap off, fill until coolant reaches the top.
To ensure proper filling, turn the car on and allow the coolant to circulate and the air bubbles to come to the surface. Watching for a few minutes, try to top off the coolant. Replace the top cap securely and do not forget to empty the old coolant in the reservoir.
The coolant will be fully burped of air in a few days, so keep checking to make sure your engine coolant is at the right level. Be sure to recycle or dispose of the coolant safely – engine coolant is poisonous and is easily ingested by infants and animals.
Little preventative services such as this are simple and go a long way in ensuring long car life, but often neglected. Always consult an automobile mechanic specialist and owner’s manual prior to performing any kind of car maintenance to ensure first and foremost personal safety, and to make sure you’re not doing it wrong. If this all seems too overwhelming, take your car to your local and trusted mechanic.