Owning an automobile can be convenient when it comes to getting from one place to another, but cars can be expensive. In the year 2014, it cost drivers $8,876 to own and drive the typical sedan. One way to reduce the cost of car ownership is to reduce your annual repair bills.
Taking the time to do two simple things could help you keep your car's coolant system running properly, preventing serious mechanical problems that could be expensive to repair.
1. Test the quality of your coolant on a regular basis.
While most drivers know that they should be checking coolant levels frequently, few drivers take the time to measure the quality of the coolant that is in their car's cooling system. Using a multimeter to test the conductivity of your coolant will help you identify corrosion in your car's water pump, radiator pump, or heating core.
Start with a cool engine, remove the radiator cap, and set your multimeter to DC volts at 20 volts or less. Start your car and let the engine heat up. Insert the positive probe of your multimeter into the coolant.
Have a helper rev the car's engine to 2,000 RPMs, and place the negative probe of your multimeter on the negative terminal of your car's battery. If the multimeter reading is 0.4 volts or less, your coolant system is in good condition. Anything above 0.4 volts could signal the beginning of a problem, and you should flush your coolant system to avoid future repairs.
2. Choose the right antifreeze for your car.
If you have perused the automotive aisle at your local big box store, you have probably seen yellow, orange, and green antifreeze stocked on the shelves. While you might not think there's much of a difference, using the wrong antifreeze could result in the need for serious repairs to your coolant system.
The type of rust and corrosion inhibitors found in antifreeze help give the liquid its color, and using the wrong inhibitors could be disastrous. For example, orange antifreeze contains organic inhibitors that are designed to work within a cooling system that has an aluminum radiator. If your radiator is made of copper and brass, orange antifreeze won't provide the right protection. If you are unsure which color of antifreeze is best, ask your mechanic for a recommendation to help avoid costly coolant system repairs in the future.
Avoiding costly coolant system repairs doesn't have to be difficult if you take the time to check the quality of your coolant with a multimeter, and be sure that you are purchasing the right type of antifreeze to protect your car's cooling system.