How Long After Adding Coolant Can I Drive (And Why?)

Exact Answer: Up To 30,000 Miles

Coolant or Anti-Freeze is a liquid that is used to cool the engines. When the coolant passes throughout the engine, the heat from the engine is transferred to the coolant and that hot liquid is moved to the radiator to get cooled back and is sent to the engine again. This process takes place continuously while driving.

If your coolant system is filled, it will resist overheating much longer. So, it is vitally important to check the coolant regularly. Coolant levels can be checked by inspecting the overflow bottle. The overflow bottle can be located by following the hose from the radiator fill cap to the overflow bottle.

How Long After Adding Coolant Can I Drive?

Coolant typeCoolant ColorUsed inDistance in miles
Inorganic Additive Technology (IAT)GreenUsed as factory fill in modern cars30,000 miles
Organic Acid Technology (OAT)Orange, yellow, red or purpleUsed in vehicles manufactured by general motors50,000 miles
Hybrid Organic Acid Technology (HOAT)Orange and yellowUsed in Chrysler and ford50,000 miles to 150,000 miles

Depending on the coolant and the vehicle, two years or 30,000 miles is the average time between flushes. It is good to change the coolant every 30,000 miles to avoid serious problems such as engine failure. In modern cars, the coolants used are the long-life type. These coolants can drive up to 100,000 miles to 150,000 miles. This means that they should be replaced every 5-7 years. 3 years is the maximum period for the regular coolant to be replaced.

What happens if you don’t change the coolant?

Without coolant, heat cannot be extracted from the engine and these parts overheat quickly and break down and also, after more usage of your vehicle the coolant level may become too low, too dirty, or too contaminated. The engines cannot withstand excess heat. If the engine overheats, the damage will be more and the vehicle will need expensive repairs.

Signs that your coolant needs to be changed

If your vehicle’s engine is noticeably hotter, then it means that your coolant needs to be changed. If your coolant level is lower, you will be notified by the “low coolant level” light which is located on every vehicle’s dash.

If you smell a sweet smell produced by your car, it means that there is possibly a coolant leak. There is a chemical called “Ethylene Glycol” used in some coolants, which produces a sweet smell.

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If there is hissing noise in the engine then there is a leak. Check beneath your vehicle for any coolant leaks (orange or green fluid). If you ignore these signs then eventually, your engine can be damaged severely and the repair costs will be higher.

How important it is to have the right engine coolant?

In early days, we used water as a coolant which caused corrosion of the engine parts. Water cannot withstand excess heat. Modern engines need a slightly more complex liquid with better cooling characteristics than water. That’s why we use coolant. It enables heat transfer as it flows through the engine taking the heat away and transfer it to air through the radiator. Coolant contains inhibitors which prevent the engine system from rusting. In order to choose the right coolant for your vehicle, you should keep in mind the factors such as, model, engine, the country where the vehicle was made and so on.

Why Can I Drive Up To 30,000 Miles After Adding A Coolant?

In olden cars, brass, rubber parts, and cast iron were mostly used in engine cooling systems. Therefore, the coolant used in every cooling systems were nearly the same. Nowadays, copper, silicon, nylon, magnesium, steel, and aluminum alloys are used in engine cooling systems. Therefore, different vehicles require different coolant.

The types of engine coolants are,

  1. Inorganic Additive Technology (IAT) – Green-colored coolant rarely used as factory fill in modern cars. It has to be changed more frequently, usually every 2 years or 30,000 miles.
  2. Organic Acid Technology (OAT) – Orange, yellow, red, or purple colored coolant required for vehicles manufactured by General Motors and some other automakers and should be changed every five years or 50,000 miles.
  3. Hybrid Organic Acid Technology (HOAT) – Orange and yellow colored coolant common in Chrysler and Ford vehicles and should be changed every five years or 50,000 miles, although sometimes it can be used upto 10 years or 150,000 miles.
  4. Hybrid and Electric vehicle cooling system – They have a separate cooling system for the battery pack. The coolant that meets the car maker’s specifications only should be used.

Conclusion

Therefore, it is clear that a coolant plays a critical role in sustaining engine heat balance by removing heat. Nearly all engines use coolants with a 50/50 mix of ethylene glycol and water. A coolant protects your engine from freezing and overheating while defending components against corrosion. So, everyone must choose the right coolant for their vehicle and must know when to change the coolant, to maintain their vehicle in a good condition.

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1359431110003029
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1876610217301431
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