How to Put Antifreeze in Car [Where Does Antifreeze Go?]

It is essential to check your coolant to determine problems early on. That way, you will be able to add more antifreeze in your car when necessary. As such, you need to know how to put antifreeze in a car.

To put antifreeze in a car, follow these steps:

  1. Turn Off the Engine and Cool Down the Car
  2. Locate the Coolant Reservoir
  3. Check the Coolant Levels
  4. Twist Off the Coolant Cap Properly
  5. Add the Antifreeze
  6. Reach the Cold Fill Line and Replace the Cap

Read on to learn more about antifreeze, its importance, and how to put it in your car.

How to Put Antifreeze in Car

how to put antifreeze in car

Before you put antifreeze in your car, you should turn off the engine first and let your car cool down. Then, locate the engine coolant reservoir and check the coolant levels. Twist off the coolant cap properly, add the antifreeze, reach the cold fill line, and place the cap back on.

Here are the instructions on how to put antifreeze in a car:

  1. Turn Off the Engine and Cool Down the Car
  2. Locate the Coolant Reservoir
  3. Check the Coolant Levels
  4. Twist Off the Coolant Cap Properly
  5. Add the Antifreeze
  6. Reach the Cold Fill Line and Replace the Cap

1. Turn Off the Engine and Cool Down the Car

Turning the Engine Off Ensures Parking Brake Is Set

Always turn off your car’s engine and let it cool down before adding the antifreeze for safety reasons. Engines tend to get very hot, as does the reservoir cap, and you might wind up getting burned if you happen to touch any part of a running engine. Also, turning the engine off first will make sure that the parking brake is set and the car is on a flat surface.

Cracked Engine

Then, allow it to cool down for at least 15 minutes before opening the reservoir cap. If you get too impatient and decide to put in the antifreeze while the engine is still hot, the sudden temperature change may cause the engine to crack. This might cost you a fortune in extensive repairs or replacement.

2. Locate the Coolant Reservoir

Coolant Reservoir Has a Colored Lid

The engine coolant reservoir usually comes with a colored lid, so you can easily locate it. And yet, so many people tend to have a hard time finding it. If you’re one of them, rest assured that this is a very common problem.

Reservoir Lid Is Usually Yellow

In many cars, the reservoir lid is typically yellow. It may also have a warning sign that tells you not to open it while the engine is still running or hot. The coolant reservoir is usually a thick and translucent plastic that lets you see the antifreeze while adding it.

Refer to Car’s Manual

If you’re still having trouble locating the reservoir, refer to your car’s manual to help you identify the various parts under the hood. If you don’t have your manual on hand, you may look online for information regarding your car.

3. Check the Coolant Levels

Antifreeze’s Bright Colors Make Checking Coolant Level Easier

There is a reason why the coolant reservoir is transparent, and antifreeze comes in bright colors. And that is so you can easily check the coolant levels in the reservoir. You won’t have to remove the lid to check the liquid level from the sides of the reservoir. All you need to do is check the coolant reservoir. 

Monitor the Coolant Levels for One to Two Days

After locating the reservoir, check the coolant levels counter to the maximum and minimum demarcation lines. If the coolant level is below the maximum line, you will have to put an extra bit of antifreeze to reach that point. Meanwhile, you will need to add more coolant to reach the maximum line if it is below the minimum line. Afterward, monitor the coolant levels after one to two days.

Sign of Engine Cooling System Leak

If you need to top up antifreeze after a day or two, it might be a sign that your engine’s cooling system is leaking. Have a mechanic check your engine for cracks and other serious damages if you suspect this.

4. Twist Off the Coolant Cap Properly

Make sure that you twist the coolant cap off and on carefully. If the cap becomes defective, it may affect the cooling system’s effectiveness. Be careful not to damage the cap when you unscrew or fasten it back on.

5. Add the Antifreeze

The fifth rule of putting antifreeze in a car is that you do not simply put antifreeze in your car. That is, not without being careful. 

If you’re using concentrated coolants, you may add some water, but please carefully follow the instructions. Don’t add water to antifreeze that is “ready to use.” When you add the coolant or antifreeze into your car’s reservoir, make use of a funnel to prevent it from spilling.

6. Reach the Cold Fill Line and Replace the Cap

Once you have reached the cold fill or maximum line, it’s time to put the coolant cap back on. Ensure that the cap is fastened tightly. If not, it could lead to a serious leak caused by the pressurized system.

If you suspect that your system is leaking, regularly check to see if it isn’t running low. Since coolant or antifreeze is reused constantly, you shouldn’t be running low too frequently:

In this video, vlogger FiremanCV explains how to check coolant or antifreeze. Here, FiremanCV features several vehicles and mentions the appropriate antifreeze for each.

What Is Antifreeze?

how to put coolant in car

Helps Regulate the Car’s Temperature

Antifreeze is a vital engine coolant that helps regulate the car’s temperature. It keeps the water in the engine and radiator from boiling over in warm weather. Also, it keeps the water from freezing in cold temperatures. Antifreeze works well with liquids at temperatures as high as 275° F to as low as 30 degrees below zero.

Serves as a Lubricant

Antifreeze also serves as a lubricant that makes sure that the engine’s various parts, such as the water pump, are moving smoothly. This reduces friction that may damage the engine.

Prevents Engine Corrosion

Also, antifreeze helps in preventing engine corrosion. Most engines have aluminum cylinder heads that are particularly vulnerable to corrosion. This makes antifreeze a crucial component in ensuring the health and longevity of your car.

Components

Antifreeze is mainly composed of either propylene glycol or ethylene glycol. It may also contain additives such as:

  • Azoles,
  • Borates,
  • Nitrates, and
  • Silicates.

These additives prevent oxidation and corrosion and usually comprise less than 10% of the solution.

Pre-mixed Antifreeze

While cars use a 50/50 antifreeze and water mixture, you can get pre-mixed antifreeze which already has water. When working with antifreeze, make sure to check the label carefully. That way, you would know if you need to mix water into the antifreeze or not before you use it.

It is also essential to note that antifreeze is a toxic substance and must be kept out of the reach of children or pets. If any antifreeze is spilled, clean it up immediately.

Where Does Antifreeze Go in a Car?

Usually, the coolant reservoir is where you put antifreeze in a car. But there are older vehicles that do not have a coolant reservoir. In this case, the antifreeze will instead go into the radiator.

You can easily find both under the hood, whether you’re putting the antifreeze into a coolant reservoir or a radiator. However, their exact placement may vary depending on the vehicle. Refer to the owner’s manual of your car to determine where the coolant reservoir or radiator may be located.

What Are the Types of Antifreeze?

Antifreeze comes in various types and colors, each with different features suited to different vehicles. This is why it is important to select the appropriate antifreeze for your car’s engine. To help you decide, here is a list of various antifreeze types:

  1. Inorganic Additive Technology
  2. Organic Acid Technology
  3. Hybrid Organic Acid Technology
  4. Phosphate-free Hybrid Organic Acid Technology
  5. Silicated Hybrid Organic Additive Technology
  6. Phosphated Hybrid Organic Additive Technology

Let’s briefly discuss each one of them:

1. Inorganic Additive Technology

Usually colored green, this type of antifreeze has ethylene glycol, phosphates, and silicates, which are useful in preventing engine corrosion. However, inorganic additive technology doesn’t work as efficiently in removing debris compared to some newer coolant brands. So, if you decide to use this type, make sure that the reservoir is completely cleared before you refill it.

2. Organic Acid Technology

Organic acid technology has propylene glycol and usually orange. This type of antifreeze is generally suitable for the following:

  • GM,
  • Saab, or
  • Volkswagen cars.

But still, it is always best to refer to the owner’s manual of your car before you add any antifreeze to your coolant reservoir.

3. Hybrid Organic Acid Technology

This is typically yellow and available in blue, pink, and orange. Hybrid organic acid technology is made with organic acids and silicates, ideal for preventing engine corrosion. It is compatible with most European cars and Ford and Chrysler models. Lastly, this type has the most diversity, with three varieties that are perfect for specific kinds of cars.

4. Phosphate-free Hybrid Organic Acid Technology

Also known as HOAT, this type of antifreeze typically comes in turquoise. Manufactured with glycol, phosphate-free HOAT has both inorganic and organic corrosion inhibitors. Aside from corrosion prevention, it also protects the seals and gaskets of your car.

Phosphate-free HOAT is typically well-suited for the following:

  • Audi,
  • Jaguar,
  • Mercedes,
  • Porsche,
  • Rolls-Royce,
  • Saab, and
  • Volkswagen.

5. Silicated Hybrid Organic Additive Technology

Usually, bright purple, silicate hybrid organic additive technology contains silicates that prevent engine corrosion. If you’re looking for an antifreeze that is free from amines, borates, imidazole, nitrates, and phosphates, then this is the one for you. Silicate hybrid organic additive technology is appropriate for the following:

  • Audi,
  • Bentley,
  • Lamborghini,
  • Mercedes Benz, and
  • VS models.

6. Phosphated Hybrid Organic Additive Technology

This type of antifreeze is available in either pink or blue, depending on the brand. It is manufactured with phosphates and carboxylates that prevent engine corrosion. Phosphated hybrid organic additive technology is ideal for Asian cars and effectively deals with heat transfer issues.

How to Choose the Right Antifreeze for Your Car

how to add antifreeze in your car

Consult the Manual

Before you put antifreeze in your car, make sure that the coolant you will use is compatible with the make and model of your vehicle. Do the necessary research before buying any antifreeze. Consult your owner’s manual and visit the antifreeze manufacturer’s website to determine if it will work effectively with your car.

Visit the Closest Dealership for the Car’s Manufacturer

You may also visit the closest dealership for the manufacturer of your car. They should be able to provide you with the antifreeze appropriate for your car’s specific make and model. For example, Honda dealerships usually sell Type 2 antifreeze, while BMW and Volkswagen dealers have coolants available for different models.

Effectiveness Depends on the Manner of Adding and the Type of Coolant

Remember that an antifreeze’s effectiveness depends on how you add it and the type of coolant you decide to put in your car. So, make your selections wisely.

Conclusion – How to Put Antifreeze in Car [Where Does Antifreeze Go?]

To put antifreeze in a car, follow these steps:

  1. Turn Off the Engine and Cool Down the Car
  2. Locate the Coolant Reservoir
  3. Check the Coolant Levels
  4. Twist Off the Coolant Cap Properly
  5. Add the Antifreeze
  6. Reach the Cold Fill Line and Replace the Cap

The engine of your car is an intricate system composed of several working components that tend to heat up as they keep your car running. Antifreeze performs an essential function in maintaining your car’s engine by keeping it from overheating.

Choosing the right type of coolant compatible with your car is crucial. Also, it is important to know how and where to put antifreeze in a car in a proper manner. Doing so will ensure your safety and the overall well-being of your vehicle.

Read next:

The Best Coolant for BMW