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What I Learned From Internet About Adding Coolant...
Old 09-20-2012, 04:49 PM   #1
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What I Learned From Internet About Adding Coolant...

I'll be driving my car around 1000 miles this weekend so thought I'd check the fluid levels of the old car.

When I got to the coolant, it was quite difficult to see the level. Even with a bright flashlight shining. So I did what a person in a rush would do...I took my best guess and added about 3 cups of coolant. Even after adding, I still couldn't see where the level was at.

Made me start asking the whys.

1) Why is the antifreeze that I use yellow which offers very little contrast when looking at the level?

2) Why don't manufactures use more transparent plastic which would make the process much easier?

So, then I decided to do some reading on the internet about my situation and found several things. First, I'm not alone as others have the same difficulty in seeing the coolant level. Second, there's no clear cut answers as some say it's okay to mix coolant brands, some say no it's not, some say if you overfill, it'll just run off when temps get high which is okay while some say overfilling is a no-no.

I felt like I had just read an article about egg yolk where some say eggs are good for you while others say it's as bad as smoking.

But I did learn a good tip. The tip was if you can't see the coolant level, when looking, give the car a bounce up and down. So I had to try this tip. With my flashlight in hand, bouncing car, I could easily see the level.

My guess was pretty good, the level is now just below the full line. Better lucky than good, I guess .
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Old 09-20-2012, 05:17 PM   #2
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I felt like I had just read an article about egg yolk where some say eggs are good for you while others say it's as bad as smoking.
... and if your engine is smoking because of a radiator leak then an egg will stop the leak

How to Seal a Leaking Radiator: 5 Tips - wikiHow
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Old 09-20-2012, 05:30 PM   #3
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... and if your engine is smoking because of a radiator leak then an egg will stop the leak

How to Seal a Leaking Radiator: 5 Tips - wikiHow
That's hilarious. Who knew!
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Old 09-20-2012, 05:46 PM   #4
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I assume that you were looking in the (radiator) expansion overflow tank. As long as there is some fluid in there you won't overheat. Problems occur when the actual radiator gets low on fluid.


My question for you is .... Where did the previous fluid go ? If you have a leak it may get worse.

And no it's generally not advised to mix antifreeze types.
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Old 09-20-2012, 06:03 PM   #5
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Talking about antifreeze. My DW brought her 2011 Armada to the Nissan dealer for a recall. While there the advisor said she should have her antifreeze changed. So she agreed not having any idea what antifreeze does. She then called me and asked my opinion after she left. I then checked and saw that the antifreeze is good for 106K miles or 7 years. So I called the so called advisor and had chat with him. Well, I'm sure he doesn't like me as I had a few choice words for him. No charge!
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Old 09-20-2012, 06:47 PM   #6
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......While there the advisor said she should have her antifreeze changed...........

Common rip off. Along with power steering flush & transmission flush, none of which are in the scheduled maintenance manual.
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Old 09-20-2012, 07:47 PM   #7
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Common rip off. Along with power steering flush & transmission flush, none of which are in the scheduled maintenance manual.
I am horrible about that stuff. I have had a car for 10 years and it has almost 180,000 miles on it. Never have changed transmission fluid or radiator fluid, though I assume they top it off when I get oil changed.
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Old 09-20-2012, 08:57 PM   #8
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WADR, it's probably a good idea to replace various fluids about every 5-7 years. If you intend to 'drive it till it drops' a fluid change at half time is (probably) a good investment.
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Old 09-20-2012, 10:14 PM   #9
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I can't say I've ever had that much problem seeing the level. In older cars, some residue builds up on the tank walls, and then it's tough. Depends on the car I guess.

I don't think there is much issue in mixing brands, but there are some different types - the long-life and more standard type. Like always, check your manual, back it up with internet searches.

Over-flowing shouldn't be an issue. Other than leaking out fluid and making a mess, and maybe steam (the spill can be poisonous to cats/dogs, and is sweet tasting so it attracts them).


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Common rip off. Along with power steering flush & transmission flush, none of which are in the scheduled maintenance manual.
OTOH, it seems like brake fluid flushes are a good thing, and not recc that often. My Uncle was an airline mechanic, and he thought it was important. Brake fluid absorbs moisture, it will turn to steam if the brakes get really hot, and then no/little brake compression since gasses compress, but fluids don't. Also, the moisture can corrode the parts. I know you were in the auto engineering business, so I'm curious what you think.

IIRC, a brake flush is recc on my Volvo, maybe every 4-5 years? Coolant and trans flush are recc on some vehicles - it depends. Check the manual.

-ERD50
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Old 09-21-2012, 07:27 AM   #10
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I consider the fluid changes as cheap insurance and I can do it myself cheaply. Also a fluid change is different than a "flush". A transmission flush may do more harm than good. You can do a drain and fill on periodaclly on the transmission and keep the fluid fresh. The transmission is the most expensive part on the vehicle next to the engine. Aslo if you can the factory service manual, there is more detail in those than the owners manual.

As mentioned brake fluid absorbs moisture which can corrode. Changing brake fluid is much cheaper than new brake lines/ master cylinder.

Same for coolant, you change it because the corrosion inhibiting additives wear out, not because it won't cool.

There are forums ( just like here ) for almost every make and model with lots of information about your car, I did a lot of research there when something wasn't specifci or the dealer recommended something questionable.
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Old 09-21-2012, 08:32 AM   #11
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I consider the fluid changes as cheap insurance and I can do it myself cheaply...........
You are right. The problem is that change intervals for most fluids are much longer than the good ole days. Dealers play on ignorance to sell 3000 mile oil changes and the above mentioned flushes that are unnecessary or even harmful. If you stick to the owner's manual intervals you will be fine. If you are handy, sure, change the fluids more frequently, as long as you use the correct fluids, especially transmission fluid and coolant.
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Old 09-21-2012, 09:07 AM   #12
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Common rip off. Along with power steering flush & transmission flush, none of which are in the scheduled maintenance manual.
Never a transmission FLUSH, always a drain and fill. I have my Hondas done every 30,000 miles or so. Why? My indie mechanic who was a certified Honda mechanic for 15 years told me that clean fluid is a transmission's best friend, and I trust him. For the price of a tranny rebuild I can buy a lot of oil changes and tranny drain and fills. My Accord has 153,000 miles on it and shifts as well as the day I got it.......

I agree about not doing the coolant replacement. Most coolant these days is good for 100,000 miles or so.
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Old 09-21-2012, 09:31 AM   #13
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You are right. The problem is that change intervals for most fluids are much longer than the good ole days. Dealers play on ignorance to sell 3000 mile oil changes and the above mentioned flushes that are unnecessary or even harmful. If you stick to the owner's manual intervals you will be fine. If you are handy, sure, change the fluids more frequently, as long as you use the correct fluids, especially transmission fluid and coolant.
Very true on the dealers. I run extended oil changes and have done a Used Oil Analysis (UOA). Most euro cars these days run 10K easy and most have switched to an onboard oil life monitor. Always check what they are trying to sell versus what is in the maintenance manual. Most of this is any easy DIY, Rebuilding the engine or transmission isn't.
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Old 09-21-2012, 10:21 AM   #14
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What I find interesting it that consumer motor cars list maintenance intervals in miles, yet most other vehicles use hours of operation. IIRC, big trucks, aircraft, commercial shipping vessels all use hours of operation. Correct me if I am wrong.

I think time makes much more sense overall. 1 hour in stop and go traffic may only mean 20 miles on the odometer, but we all know it is much harder on the car than 1 hour cruising at 60 mph on an open highway. With all the computers in modern cars we ought to be able to find out how many hours our cars have operated since the last maintenance period.
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Old 09-21-2012, 11:12 AM   #15
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You are right. The problem is that change intervals for most fluids are much longer than the good ole days. Dealers play on ignorance to sell 3000 mile oil changes and the above mentioned flushes that are unnecessary or even harmful. If you stick to the owner's manual intervals you will be fine. If you are handy, sure, change the fluids more frequently, as long as you use the correct fluids, especially transmission fluid and coolant.
The car place I go to for repairs now suggest oil changes every 5K miles instead of the old 3K timeframe. When I saw this, I was tempted to say "So, you've been taking us for a ride all these years?" but decided to just play nice instead .
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Old 09-21-2012, 12:05 PM   #16
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The car place I go to for repairs now suggest oil changes every 5K miles instead of the old 3K timeframe. When I saw this, I was tempted to say "So, you've been taking us for a ride all these years?" but decided to just play nice instead .
My place offers up 5000 mile oil changes, but want me to pay for Mobil 1 synthetic oil for the privilege.
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Old 09-21-2012, 12:06 PM   #17
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What I find interesting it that consumer motor cars list maintenance intervals in miles, yet most other vehicles use hours of operation. IIRC, big trucks, aircraft, commercial shipping vessels all use hours of operation. Correct me if I am wrong.

I think time makes much more sense overall. 1 hour in stop and go traffic may only mean 20 miles on the odometer, but we all know it is much harder on the car than 1 hour cruising at 60 mph on an open highway. With all the computers in modern cars we ought to be able to find out how many hours our cars have operated since the last maintenance period.
My Escape has a computer monitor that suggests oil changes based on actual usage. I suspect many other vehicles do, too.
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Old 09-21-2012, 12:38 PM   #18
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My Escape has a computer monitor that suggests oil changes based on actual usage. I suspect many other vehicles do, too.
Alas, as a poor pensioner, on a fixed income, with hungry grandchildren to feed, and infirmities that make going back to work difficult, I drive an older car without such modern features.
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Old 09-21-2012, 01:32 PM   #19
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Never a transmission FLUSH, always a drain and fill. I have my Hondas done every 30,000 miles or so. Why? My indie mechanic who was a certified Honda mechanic for 15 years told me that clean fluid is a transmission's best friend, and I trust him. For the price of a tranny rebuild I can buy a lot of oil changes and tranny drain and fills. My Accord has 153,000 miles on it and shifts as well as the day I got it.......
Probably a very good idea, especially during the break in period. The magnetic drain plug will usually show some wear metals even at high mileage changes.

As I recall, certain year Honda autos mated to V6 engines had some issues.
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Old 09-21-2012, 02:56 PM   #20
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Alas, as a poor pensioner, on a fixed income, with hungry grandchildren to feed, and infirmities that make going back to work difficult, I drive an older car without such modern features.
I'm cheap, too.
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