The cooling system on your vehicle has a pretty difficult task, it has to keep the engine, which runs at incredibly high temperatures, from overheating and direct heat through the heater core to keep your warm in colder months. Antifreeze (or coolant) is pumped through all the heat producing components of the engine, picking up heat as it goes and getting rid of it as it goes through the radiator. Components in modern engines are made from several different types of metals which corrode at different rates. Those different metals together in an electrolytic solution lead to galvanic corrosion, a severe type of corrosion. Therefore special care has to be taken to prevent the buildup of rust and other materials, which is another job of your coolant, and to make sure that the acidity of the coolant is kept at the correct level. After time, that coolant will start to break down and quit doing it's job like it should, which is why a coolant flush is such a vital part of the maintenance of your vehicle.
This is a service that you should consider doing at least once a year, unless your vehicle uses an extended life antifreeze, in which case you could probably do it every other year. At a cost of $50 to $100, though, it's a lot less expensive than buying a new radiator or water pump. When you have your oil changed, you should ask your technician to check your coolant for signs of breakdown.
A coolant flush will:
- Remove rust and deposits from your cooling system
- New antifreeze has corrosion inhibitors
- All the old antifreeze is removed and the pump is lubricated with a flushNew antifreeze will help the engine run at the proper temperature and prevent freezing
If you live in colder climates, new antifreeze will prevent your engine from freezing. It will also help keep the engine at it optimum operating temperature during operation.
The traditional method of changing coolant was to drain it all out and then refill the system with new antifreeze, the drawback to this method is that not all the antifreeze comes out when you do a drain and refill, so you are mixing fresh antifreeze with the old worn out stuff. Also, when the coolant is flushed, clean antifreeze is run through the water pump lubricating it.
Not only are you removing the old rust with a coolant flush, you are also pumping through fresh antifreeze which has anti-corrosive agents in it, helping prevent future rust. Corrosion is the leading cause of failure in cooling system components. Flushing away the rust and scale deposits makes it possible for the coolant to flow freely, reducing the possibility of overheating. If you have never seen a heater core, they have extremely small passages that the coolant flows through, when these passages get too much buildup from rust and scale, you quit getting heat.
Still not convinced? Remember that new antifreeze acts as a lubricator, keeping seals and gaskets lubed in your engine in addition to acting as a rust inhibitor. Blown head gaskets, leaking intake manifold gaskets, water pump replacement, heater core replacement and radiator replacement are all examples of expensive repairs that all could be caused by failure to change your coolant.
This is a service I recommend you have done at a garage, they have the proper tools and equipment and can make sure that the coolant will be disposed in the proper manor. If you decide to do this at home, remember to make sure that the car is completely cooled off before you start and be extremely careful with the antifreeze, it is poisonous and a danger to people and animals.