How to top up your engine coolant

young driver topping up coolant reservoir with anti freeze

Posted by Holly West-Robinson on 09 November 2016

It's coming up to the time of year where your car will probably need a bit more TLC than usual as the winter months approach! Coolant, which is commonly known as antifreeze, is a mixture of ethylene or propylene glycol and water, usually in a 50/50 ratio. Coolant and Anti-Freeze are pretty much the same thing but the only difference is anti-freeze is more resistant to the cold.

Just like topping up your oil or screenwash, putting coolant into your car is just as easy but requires you to put in the correct coolants using the wrong substance can cause irreparable damage to your vehicle. Let's show you how to do it safely and correctly as part of our #minimechanics series!

Note - Ensure you look at the cars handbook before putting any coolant into your car so you can identify which type is required and how much it needs. It's also very important to wait until the engine is cold (at least 3 hours from the last use) as there's a high chance that pressurised water will escape from the reservoir when you go to unscrew your coolant cap. This can scald the skin so please do handle with care!

zoomed in image of coolant reservoir of a Fiat 500

  • Find the coolant reservoir - Again the handbook should explain where to find the reservoir and also what kind of anti-freeze to put in it.
  • Check the minimum & maximum lines - The coolant level should be somewhere between these 2 marks if the engine is cold.
  • Create your mixture - You can buy it pre-mixed but if you feel comfortable making your own it's always best to mix the antifreeze with distilled water before you put it in. Most labels recommend half and half as a measurement but in the really cold months experts recommend as much as 70% anti-freeze, 30% distilled water.
  • Unscrew the coolant cap - make sure you use a rag or thick cloth.
  • Use a funnel - This will prevent spillages! You do not want to get coolant on the skin or drop any on the floor as this can be poisonous to humans as well as animals.
  • Fill it to the max - Once you see the liquid reach the maximum line, screw the cap back on until you hear it click - and you're done!

About the Author

Holly West-Robinson
Holly West-Robinson

Hi I'm Holly and I'm a young driver based in Peterborough! I love tattoos, food, drawing and anything art related, enjoy hanging out with friends and family and making a fool of myself XD I'm a huge lover of music and also a part time DJ in the underground drum and bass scene. I passed my driving test first time when I was 17 years old have been loving life and my new found freedom ever since! I'm definitely one of the adventurous types who's always up for a good old road trip!