A vehicle’s coolant system has an especially important job it keeps the engine cooled so it doesn’t overheat, and coolant also acts as a lubricant to some of your vehicle’s most important components. Metro News Service photo

Winterizing car care: Check your coolant

It’s an old adage, but true. Take care of your car, and it will take care of you. That’s especially true in the winter, when a breakdown could be potentially life-threatening.

And while flushing and refilling your vehicle’s coolant system may not be at the top of your vehicle’s winter maintenance list, it should be, professional auto technicians say.

After all, the vehicle’s coolant system has an especially important job — it keeps the engine cooled so it doesn’t overheat, and coolant also acts as a lubricant to some of your vehicle’s most important components, said Shane Myers, an auto technician with D&M Tire & Service Center, 920 E. Mulberry St., in Bryan.

Myers explained that engine coolant, usually a mixture of water and antifreeze, runs through your engine’s cooling system, moving from the radiator to the engine and back again. In addition, the water pump keeps that cooling fluid moving, while the radiator’s job is to allow cooler air to bring down the temperature of the coolant.

“I think a lot of people realize they need to change their (motor) oil regularly, but not everyone appreciates how important the coolant is. In the winter it makes sure your car’s running system doesn’t freeze and stop working. The coolant system keeps the engine working properly and it makes sure the heater works, which keeps you warm inside your car,” said Myers, of Pioneer, who’s been at D&M about four years but has been working as an auto mechanic for 30 years.

The coolant also lubricates the inside of the vehicle’s engine and ancillary parts, such as gaskets and seals, and it’s a corrosion inhibitor, potentially adding years to the life of your vehicle, said Myers.

Myers said regular coolant flush and fill is an important investment in your vehicle. Auto repair specialists say the work it should take about an hour and cost $100 to $150 for most vehicles, and it’s advisable to do a flush and fill every 20,000 to 40,000 miles, depending on the vehicle and its workload.

“It’s a better investment than having a blow head gasket, or line, or your heater core goes bad in the middle of winter,” Myers said.

And while some vehicle owners prefer to do a flush and fill themselves, many auto repair shops have specialized knowledge, equipment and tools to do the job right.

Myers, 48, who is married and has two sons, chuckled when asked how much his job has changed over the past three decades.

“When I started, electronic fuel injection was just starting (to be used in vehicles). Now it’s all electronic. It’s changed dramatically,” he said.

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