While driving a car, you will notice that your car’s engine is getting hot pretty fast. Your car has a coolant to cool down your engine. Now you might be wondering what a coolant is.
Coolant is a liquid substance that transfers heat and adds antifreeze protection to your engine to prevent overheating and running at optimal conditions for a prolonged amount of time. Over time, coolant tends to vaporize in the air.
Coolant loss is very typical in a car, but How much coolant loss is normal? It was found that with the engine functioning well with no leakage or damages, the coolant level should drop about 0.25” in 4 months. That means, if the coolant loss is about 1 inch each year, it is considered to be normal.
Today, we are going to share everything about the coolant loss, the reasons, and how you can prevent it. Let’s start!
How Much Coolant Loss is Normal?
If there are issues in your car’s radiator or engine, then a coolant leak is bound to happen. It is a possibility that there is no leakage or any trace of a coolant leak, but you are losing coolant. Your coolant might evaporate with the help of an overflow reservoir as it is not a closed system.
To keep your engine cool, coolant flows to the engine and radiator, where the chemical exposes to high temperature and loses their natural balance. And then they evaporate without any leakage. With the engine getting old, the coolant tends to evaporate more and more.
If you just bought a car or noticed that the coolant level in your vehicle is getting lower. Then the first question that should come to your mind is, is it normal for coolant level to drop? With many tests and calculations, it is decided that with the engine functioning well with no leakage or damages, your coolant should evaporate about 0.25’ in 4 months or 1 inch for every year.
But if you notice that your vehicle is losing coolant very fast, then it is not normal. If this happens, then you should consult a mechanic to check your car.
Every car comes with a coolant to cool your engine. When the coolant flows to the engine and gets exposed to high temperature, it loses its natural balance. So, some of the coolants get evaporate, leaving you with less coolant in your car.
You should never drive your car without coolant or low coolant as it will damage your engine. So, you should regularly check your car’s coolant and make sure that your vehicle has the recommended coolant level for optimal performance.
Are You Losing Coolant So Fast? Here’s Why!
If you lose your coolant for about 0.25” in 4 months or about 1 inch in a year, then it’s very normal. While running with no leakage or damages, every vehicle is expected to lose 1 inch of coolant in a year due to evaporation.
So, if you want to know does coolant level drop when engine is hot, then yes, it does! But if you lose more than that, then there are problems with your car, and you should contact your local mechanic.
Your car can lose coolant for many different reasons. One of the most common problems is a blown-up head gasket due to damage or low coolant. Another reason might be the reservoir cap. Sometimes the radiator cap gets dirty, or the rubber has worn out. As a result, the coolant evaporates.
Usually, the radiator hoses are placed relatively close to the engine. Exposing to high temperatures when the cars get hot. As a result, sometimes the hoses crack or burst, causing loss of the coolant. Or you might have a leak in your radiator.
The aluminum radiator is very lightweight and very good at maintaining the overall pressure across the engine component. So, the radiator has to take a lot of beating. Sometimes due to using water instead of coolant or using low-quality coolant causes corrosion within the radiator walls. This ultimately leads to leakage in the radiator, causing you to lose coolant.
Most Common Reasons for Coolant Loss:
There are many reasons why your vehicle might be losing coolant. Unless you check for yourself or contact your local mechanic, it’s hard to tell. If you notice that you’re losing coolant, then there are a couple of things that you can check before contacting a mechanic.
Usually, these are the most common couple of reasons for this problem. Let’s have a look:
- Hole in the Radiator – The number one most common problem is that there is a hole in the radiator. Your radiator can leak for many reasons.
- A leak in the radiator cap – Another common reason for losing coolant is a leak in the radiator cap. It is very pressurized. So to keep the pressure, it needs to be very tight. If it gets loose or begins to deteriorate, your car can lose coolant.
- Failed water pump – The water pump is essential to circulate the coolant throughout the engine. If it fails to do that, your car will start to lose coolant.
How Does the Coolant Work?
Many people wonder how the coolant works? Try not to stress because we will be discussing it.
Coolant is a liquid that is used to transfer heat from the engine to the radiator. And it adds antifreeze protection so your car can run smoothly and in optimal condition. The vehicle uses an internal combustion engine that creates a lot of energy. Part of the energy is used to move your vehicle forward, and the remaining energy converts to heat.
The heat from your engine leaves in two ways. Some of it leaves by the exhaust, and the remaining heat stays at the engine block. So here comes the coolant. When the engine starts, the coolant continuously circulates through the engine and goes back to the radiator.
When it gets cooled, it leaves the radiator and is drawn in the water pump, which pumps the coolant into the engine block so it can absorb the heat making your engine cooler.
Signs of a Bad Coolant:
If you drive with a low coolant or bad coolant, then it might damage your car. Your car coolant can get bad for many reasons. If there is rust in your coolant or you see any kind of contamination in the coolant, then you need to change your coolant as it might damage your car engine.
There are a couple of signs that you will notice when your car coolant gets bad.
- The first sign that you will notice the color of the coolant. You will notice that the color of the coolant is changed.
- When the engine is running, the temperature gauge will read hotter than usual.
- There will be bits of rust showing up in the coolant.
- Your vehicle will take longer to start at a cold temperature.
Why is My Car Losing Coolant But Not Overheating?
If you notice that your car is leaking coolant, but you are not facing any overheating, then you still have a chance to repair your vehicle. You should not drive your car like this because eventually, your vehicle will overheat.
Currently, you are not facing any overheating issues because there is a reservoir for your coolant. If there is a leak in your radiator, then you will be able to drive like this for quite some time and take your car to the mechanic. After some time, you will notice that your reservoir is empty, and that’s when you will start to overheat.
If you drive with a low coolant in your car, your car’s engine will definitely overheat, damaging your car’s engine. Overheating the engine can cause more problems than you can imagine. If you drive with an overheating engine, you might end up with a crack block.
What Happens if the Coolant is Below the Minimum?
You should contact your local mechanic if your car’s coolant is below the minimum. There are many reasons why your cars might lose coolant. But if you notice that your vehicle has below minimum coolant, it might create many problems in your vehicle.
The first issue it will create is, it will overheat your engine. If you drive with your overheated engine, then it will create irreparable damage to your car. Another major problem you will face is the rust.
Most of the components in your car are made out of metal. If your vehicle has low engine coolant, then some of the engine components may start developing rust, which leads to many other problems.
The coolant has chemical components that protect your engine from getting rusted. If your car has a low coolant, you will face rusty parts that might lead to a blown head gasket. If you have a blown head gasket, you might notice a bubble or milky liquid in your engine, which will significantly damage your car.
How Do You Know if Your Engine Coolant is Low?
There are a couple of ways that you can tell that if your car has a low coolant. The first thing you will notice is that the temperature gauge is rising very first, and the engine is getting warm very quickly as there is less coolant to cool your engine.
You will notice another thing if you have a newer car. Newer cars come with a low coolant warning light, and it will automatically shut off the engine if the temperature reaches a certain point.
Also, you will notice low gas mileage. If the cooler can’t cool your engine properly, your vehicle won’t be able to run efficiently. Usually, a car engine is very efficient within a very tight temperature band, so without proper control of the heat, your vehicle won’t be able to run efficiently, resulting in low gas mileage.
Is it Okay to Drive with a Low Coolant?
It is not advisable that you run your car with a low coolant as it might significantly damage your vehicle. Coolant is used to cool your engine so it can run smoothly and without any problems. But if you drive your car with a low coolant, your car engine will get too hot, and it will damage your engine.
If you notice that your temperature gauge is rising quicker than expected and you should immediately stop your car and check for coolant level. If you have a low coolant, then you should contact your local mechanic.
How do I Know if My Car Needs Coolant?
To check if your car needs coolant or not is very easy. All you have to do is open the hood of your vehicle and check the coolant reservoir. There you will notice some marking as MAX and MIN.
You should be at MAX. If you notice that the coolant level is at MIN or below the MIN line, you should fill the reservoir with coolant until the MAX line.
Another way to tell if your car needs coolant is to check the dashboard. Most newer come with a low coolant sign. So if your car’s sensor notices that your car has low coolant, it will let you know that your car needs to cool.
How Long Can You Run an Engine Without Coolant?
If you are out of town and suddenly you notice that you have a leak in the radiator and you lost all the coolant. It is a hazardous situation as you can’t really do much in this situation. Now one question might popup in your head. Can I drive without coolant in my car, and how long can
I run an engine without coolant?
Well, yes, you can drive your car without coolant and not for long. As the engine starts to get hot and as there is no coolant to cool it, your vehicle’s engine will shut off. For that to happen, you will have around 2 minutes as the car’s engine tends to get hot very quickly.
However, we definitely do not suggest that you drive in this situation as it is very risky.
Does antifreeze lose its effectiveness?
Yes, over time, the antifreeze will lose its effectiveness. But it doesn’t evaporate when you use your car.
is it normal for the coolant level to drop?
Yes, for a certain level it’s normal. Your coolant loss can be 1 inch for each year.
Can I repair the coolant?
If you take help from a mechanic, you can repair that. But you cant repair it on your own.
The coolant in your car is one of the most important components, and you should always care about it. It plays a vital role in cooling your engine. A car’s engine produces a lot of heat, and when the heat cannot go anywhere, it can damage your engine.
So you should always check your coolant, and you should know how much coolant loss is normal to avoid any damage to your car. If you drive with your car with a low coolant, you will notice that your vehicle is getting warmer very quickly, and you are losing engine power as the engine gets warmer.
Driving with low coolant is always a very dangerous thing to do. A leak in your radiator or hose pipe could damage or blow up other components. So always try to check your coolant level regularly.