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How to top up your engine coolant

Filling up your engine coolant for the first time? Check out our guide on what to do.

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By Megan

Updated on Aug 4th, 2022

How to top up your engine coolant

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 things 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. 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!

Find the coolant reservoir

coolant tank
Your cars handbook should explain where to find the reservoir and also what kind of anti-freeze to put in it. This is really important to get right before attempting to top up your coolant.

Check the minimum & maximum lines

The coolant should be sitting somewhere between these lines.

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 month’s experts recommend as much as 70% anti-freeze, 30% distilled water.

Unscrew the coolant cap

Make sure you use a rag or thick cloth when unscrewing the cap.

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.

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