by André | Jan 10, 2022
One of the biggest questions we get asked when a customer picks up their car after a service, is what should I top my coolant up with?
Unfortunately, the answer isn't as simple as you may think.
Your vehicle's cooling system is, in theory, a simple thing. Heat is created when your vehicle operates, which must be controlled lest your engine overheats - coolant is used to transfer this heat to a radiator which harnesses air to reduce the heat within.
In the past, if you asked for some coolant from your local parts store, you'd be given a green liquid in a container of some sort. Nowadays, you'll be asked what kind of vehicle you have or what colour your coolant is.
This is because modern cars require modern coolants - but why?
Coolant, also known as anti-freeze in colder climates, is a chemical added to water in a cooling system that inhibits the corrosion (or rusting) of material in a cooling system.
In older vehicles, these materials were copper and iron - using Green coolant to prevent harm.
But modern vehicles no longer just use copper or iron in their cooling systems, sometimes they use aluminium, sometimes they don't use metals at all. Because of this, alternative coolants have been created.
Below are the most common coolant colours used by each manufacturer, they each have different inhibitor technologies and must NOT be mixed with different types of coolant.
Ford, Chrysler, Euro Cars
Toyota, Nissan, KIA, Honda
GM, Saab, Volkswagen
BMW, Volvo, Tesla, Mini
Mercedes, Audi, VW, Porsche
Modern cooling systems are sealed, and most commonly do not drain with use. The coolants used have a usage life of between five and seven years before they must be replaced in your vehicle. Because of this, you shouldn't need to top up your cooling system unless a problem is present.
Our advise, if it's completely neccessary to top up your coolant, is to use only water or demineralised water if available.
This avoids problems with contaimination due to mixing coolant types and brands, as well as causing damage to your cooling system - resulting in expensive repairs.