Many people often oversee the importance of a car coolant in front of its engine or fuel. As much as a car requires a perfectly working engine to run, in a similar way, the car’s coolant system serves its purpose in keeping the car and its components running. When you’re driving, the car is bound to heat up due to:
- Internal combustion,
- Current generated by the electric coil,
- Continuous movements of the various mechanical parts,
- Continuous usage of the AC unit, etc.
All the above factors can heat the car to an extent its parts can suffer extensive damages causing the car to bow down anytime.
It is where a car coolant comes into the picture. As the name suggests, a coolant is a unique liquid used to prevent the car from overheating. It is particularly more practical during summers when vehicles tend to heat up in a pretty short period.
Besides summers, a coolant is also responsible for preventing the engine from freezing down during winters.
Due to this, a coolant is also called antifreeze. Just like for unknown reasons, the car may experience fuel loss or wastage; there are chances of coolant loss.
Now, the question is: how much coolant loss is normal? If you’re searching for this, here’s everything you’d know.
How much coolant loss is normal?
Provided that the car’s engine is behaving well, no leakages or damages are there so far, and the engine isn’t old enough, a coolant drop of 0.25″ in every four months is normal as per car manufacturers and experts. Let’s understand how and why does this coolant loss happens.
In a car, coolant loss is normal and might have several factors contributing to it, especially the engine and radiator’s issues.
However, in other cases, minimal coolant loss can also happen without issues or leakages. As the coolant system isn’t entirely sealed proof due to an overflow reservoir, a minute amount of coolant disappears as steam due to high temperatures or heating.
And as the engine becomes old, the evaporation rate increases and leads to a loss of 0.25″ in every four months, i.e., 1″ every year.
Hence, it’s advisable to keep refilling the coolant container with ample liquid regularly. Plus, a clean radiator can also minimize this coolant loss.
What are the reasons for coolant loss?
There are a ton of reasons behind coolant loss, and some of them are:
Worn out head gasket
The head gasket and coolant levels are interrelated. That is, either the head gasket suffers damage due to insufficient coolant, or the coolant disappears alarmingly due to a worn-out head gasket.
If there is a worn-out head gasket in place, the coolant can enter the engine’s combustion chamber, damaging the engine block or cylinder head. It is when you will sometimes notice white fumes coming out from the engine.
Faulty radiator cap
A radiator cap’s primary job is to allow an optimal flow rate of the coolant around the hose by maintaining a sufficient coolant level and reservoir pressure.
However, if there is a faulty radiator cap in place, the reservoir pressure tends to decrease, causing the coolant to start flowing faster.
It results in low levels of coolant in the car. Hence, it’s always better to check or replace the radiator cap once every 2-3 years and look for rusting or rubber damage.
The radiator is made from lightweight aluminum and is a perfect option for the same due to several reasons.
It’s the radiator only that remains surrounded by high temperatures. Since the coolant is a bit expensive, some people shift to either low-grade coolant or use water in its place.
Both of these start the corrosion of the radiator’s walls, and at one time, holes become to develop, causing coolant leakage.
Worn out radiator hoses
As a radiator hose locates itself pretty close to the engine, it’s more likely to bear the heat of a running engine.
Due to this, the hose tends to crack down and cause the coolant to spill out. As the coolant spillage continues, it affects the head gasket, and all this results in the engine malfunctioning.
So, these are the most common reasons behind car coolant loss over time.
Is it normal for the coolant level to drop?
Yes, it is common for the coolant level to drop in your car, both due to use and other issues like coolant leakages.
As said earlier, the car’s engine and radiator are the two primary reasons behind coolant level drops. Plus, this can also happen without such issues or leakages.
As the coolant system isn’t entirely off due to an overflow reservoir, a minute amount of coolant disappears as steam due to high temperatures or heating.
This minute amount has come out as approximately 0.25″ every four months or an inch of coolant loss per year.
Why does my engine coolant keep disappearing?
Since the coolant’s primary job is to cool down the car’s radiator and engine, it does so by traveling from engine to your radiator and back.
It results in coolant level drops. However, several other reasons contribute towards the disappearance of your coolant, and these are:
- Slightly cracked or rusty radiator hose,
- Any tiny hole in the car’s radiator,
- Any water pump issue,
- An overheating engine,
- An overflowing reservoir,
- Damaged head gasket, etc.
While these are the common visible causes, you should always likewise keep an eye on the coolant levels to make sure if there’s sufficient coolant in its place or not.
If there is not, refill the coolant container on your top priority with only high-grade coolant. Never use any low-grade version or simple water in its place.
Can you lose coolant without a leak?
Yes, you can lose a considerable amount of coolant even if there are no leakages. However, it’s not that complicated as it may sound here.
Merely a poorly maintained coolant system, defective components, or any change in your driving style can boost coolant loss without any leak! To add up, below are the main culprits of initiating coolant loss without any leaks.
- It may have an overflowing coolant system with the coolant going over the container’s neck.
- There may be internal puncture to parts like head gasket, cylinder head, or cylinder bores. So, manually examine these components for cracks, damage, or defects. And repair as your top priority.
- A worn-out radiator cap that’s allowing the coolant to spill out when you’re driving.
- Last but not least, an overheated engine that’s causing the coolant to evaporate at a quicker pace.
How often do you need to top up coolant?
On the coolant container, there are guide marks that indicate the amount of coolant left in it. Hence, keep an eye on these guide marks and refill as the coolant level goes down these marks.
However, experts and car manufacturers suggest refilling the coolant container every 30,000 miles.
But note that your car may ask for a refill much before 30,000 miles or much later than this. Your car’s condition, its components, and driving style have all to do with the coolant’s backup in your car.
Does coolant disappear over time?
Yes, the coolant can disappear with time. Several factors govern this, and these are:
- The natural steaming process as the coolant is trying to cool down the hot engine while driving,
- Any engine equipment failure,
- Any disturbance of the coolant flow causing it to flow abruptly,
- Any minor leak within the cracked or rusted radiator,
- Or broken hoses or leaked joint of hoses.
All these can cause the coolant to disappear over time.
So, by now, you must understand the primary purpose of a coolant. To summarize, a coolant is particularly more practical during summers when vehicles tend to heat up in a pretty short period.
Besides summers, a coolant is also credible for deterring the engine from freezing down owing to freezing temperatures.
Due to this, a coolant is also called antifreeze. However, this vital element of your car can give rise to multiple engine problems if present in insufficient amounts.
For example, engine malfunctioning is the most common. And this insufficient amount of coolant is, in turn, is a result of various external and internal car issues, as discussed above.