Prince Frederick, MD - A car care web site for Holt’s Auto calls the radiator “arguably the most commonly overlooked component” under a vehicle’s hood. If ignored it could mean the end of the road for driver and vehicle. The good news is that periodic maintenance—a coolant flush—isn’t usually cost-prohibitive and some vehicle owners perform the maintenance themselves.
Angie’s List car care columnist Tom Moor pointed out in an article last year that coolant system servicing is a process of adding a cleaner to the vehicle’s cooling system to eliminate sediment and rust. The system is flushed thoroughly and new antifreeze and a conditioner to protect against corrosion are added.
“We definitely recommend this service to prolong the left of the cooling system and its components, such as radiators, heater cores, hoses, coolant pipes, water pumps and gaskets,” said Bryan Kauffeld of Ulmer’s Autocare in Cincinnati, who is quoted in Moor’s column on cooling systems.
Opinions vary as to how often this maintenance should take place. Kauffeld recommends every 30,000 miles or every five years, whichever comes first. Brad Updegraff, Owner of Auto One Complete Car Care in Rolled Rock, Texas recommends the process be done every 30,000 miles or every three years, whichever comes first. Updegraff, who was also quoted in Moor’s column, stated that having the coolant checked as part of an oil change or inspection interval is smart. However, waiting for the vehicle’s temperature gauge to show a problem can lead to “catastrophic effects.” Holt’s Auto recommends an even shorter interval of two years or 30,000 miles, whichever comes first, especially for older vehicles. “This will extend the life of the radiator and entire cooling system,” Holt’s stated.
Moor cited Jiffy Lube’s “signs or symptoms” that a vehicle is in need of an antifreeze/coolant flush. Number one is the temperature gauge fluctuates between normal and hot. Another sign is that antifreeze/coolant is pooling under the vehicle. Hearing “grinding sounds coming from the engine area,” is another red flag. If you check and see rust and/or scaling in the antifreeze/coolant that could also mean it’s time for maintenance. Jiffy Lube also cites “steam and/or a hot maple syrup-like smell coming from under the hood” as evidence it’s time for a coolant flush.
All motor vehicle experts recommend consulting the owner’s manual of your motor vehicle when deciding the proper time for any routine maintenance.
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