Engines get hot. Like, really hot. It’s the radiator’s job to regulate the engine’s temperature, but it can’t do its job without engine coolant. Coolant is also known as antifreeze because it keeps the liquid in the radiator from freezing in cold temperatures. Check out the following tips for checking and refilling your car’s coolant.

More vehicle Maintenance Tips

Check Your Coolant Level

Locate the coolant reservoir under the hood of your vehicle. It should be a transparent little tank with minimum and maximum lines shown on the side. If your coolant level is below the minimum line, you will need to add more to keep your car happy.

Refill your engine coolant to protect your radiator
Running low on coolant is a problem.

Pick the Right Kind

Like an assortment of delicious popsicles, engine coolant comes in several different colors. Unlike an assortment of delicious popsicles, you should never taste test engine coolant. That’s a horrible idea. Keep it out of reach of children and pets, too. The Humane Society warns that the smell and taste of antifreeze is appealing to cats and dogs, so it’s important to store coolant properly and clean up any spills.

With that public service announcement out of the way, let’s talk about choosing your coolant. It’s important to check which kind is currently in your vehicle so that you can refill it with the same formula. Mixing different types can damage your engine, so be careful. It’s even worse than that time a waiter came and topped off your Coca Cola with iced tea on accident.

coolant comes in different colors
Don’t mix your coolant colors.

Wait for Your Engine to Cool Down

Refilling the coolant is something you should only do when the engine is cool. Don’t attempt to handle this right after the car has been driven. Some coolant systems are pressurized, which means the reservoir may be dangerous to open while it’s hot. Just wait until the engine is cool. Carefully open the reservoir cap and add the coolant until it reaches the fill line. Many coolant solutions are ready to use, but check the bottle in case it’s a concentrated formula that must be mixed with water first. On that note, never put plain water in your coolant reservoir unless it’s an emergency.

check your antifreeze level when the engine is cold
If you check your coolant reservoir while the engine is hot, it could explode.

Maintenance

Check your owner’s manual to find out how often you should get your engine coolant flushed and replaced. If it seems like you have to refill your coolant often, there may be a problem with your vehicle. Take it to the mechanic for servicing as soon as possible. If there is a leak somewhere, you want to know about it and get it fixed.

get your car serviced if a hose is leaking coolant
Remember the importance of a reputable mechanic.