As the coldest months of the year arrive, there are several things that need to be considered when it comes to vehicle performance. The winter antifreeze remains a key element to examine, as a thorough check of the engine coolant will ensure optimal water pump performance, as well as the whole coolant system.

In fact, making the right choice when it comes to winter antifreeze (also known as coolant) can make a key difference between an engine that runs correctly and one that collapses during the winter months. 

Keep reading to find out what exactly the winter antifreeze is, why it’s important to check on it during the coldest months and how to do it properly.



Function and composition of the antifreeze fluid


The antifreeze fluid performs a key function within an engine’s performance, as it’s in charge of absorbing the heat that is generated within internal combustion engine while it works. 

In other words, the antifreeze avoids engine overheating that could cause severe damage to elements such as pistons or cause major damage to the exhaust valves.

Other key functions of the antifreeze include:

  • Optimal engine combustion
  • Improving the vehicle’s performance
  • Facilitating the minimizing of pollution
  • Good engine lubrication

In order to do so, the liquid goes through the engine’s internal cooling circuit, guaranteeing thermal balance is achieved. 

The water pump works hand in hand with the antifreeze, guaranteeing constant liquid circulation. For this reason and as we’ll see below, in winter, the antifreeze is also key to guarantee the water pump remains in good condition, and as such it can be the reason behind water pump malfunctions.

This means that the antifreeze and the water pump coexist in a common ecosystem where precautions must take place to ensure the system runs smoothly. When it comes to water pump maintenance, there are many operations that must be taken care of. For example, ensuring the integrity of the water pump impeller. The operation to check engine coolant represents yet another of these key actions. 

To perform all these operations, the antifreeze coolant presents a particular composition: it’s made of water and certain additives that guarantee it can remain liquid even during harsh winter conditions, when temperatures drop below 0ºC. The additives also grant antioxidant and anticorrosive properties to the antifreeze fluid. 



Why check antifreeze fluid in winter?


There are certain conditions regarding the antifreeze that might lead to vehicle malfunctions and water pump damage. 

This includes: 

  • Antifreeze coolant levels go below adequate levels. As such, to check the coolant vehicle owners must confirm levels are correct and no leaks have taken place.
  • Not changing antifreeze when recommended in the service schedule.
  • Using bad quality liquids. Vehicle owners must check that they’re using the winter antifreeze liquid that is recommended by trusted professionals and that matches their vehicle’s specifications



How often should you check the antifreeze fluid?


One key question to answer regarding how to check antifreeze involves looking and how often this operation must take place. 

In fact, it’s advisable to check antifreeze levels once in a month, particularly during winter months, which can be especially challenging for this liquid.

In order to do so, the following steps should be taken:

  • Be sure the engine is cold for maximum safety.
  • Park the vehicle on a flat surface.
  • Open the vehicle’s front bonnet.
  • Find the coolant reservoir.
  • Check the coolant levels are between maximum and minimum levels. 



Keep reading: The importance of using the right coolant liquid



How to dispose of your old antifreeze?

Disposing of old coolant should be done properly, as this liquid may contain certain toxic components that could be potentially damaging for the environment, as well as a safety hazard if consumed. 

This means antifreeze liquids must always end in a suitable recycling facility. Most mechanic and automotive shops can help you with this transaction, while certain local authorities also typically set up adequate recycling spots for this procedure. 


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