Q:

How do you determine the coolant capacity of your vehicle?

A:

Quick Answer

Check the owner's manual for your car to determine the capacity of the cooling system. Drain, flush and refill the system with the recommended amount of coolant at least once every two years to protect it from damage due to corrosion as the older coolant begins to deteriorate.

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Full Answer

The cooling system of a car includes both mechanical parts and fluid. The coolant is a mixture of antifreeze and water. It withstands extremes in temperatures without freezing or boiling. The ratio of antifreeze to coolant determines the amount of freeze and boil-over protection the coolant provides.

The coolant follows a path through the engine block where it removes heat from the internal combustion engine to the radiator where air passing through the fins that surround the tubes cool the water to remove the heat. Automobiles use a water pump, which forces the water through its path using an impeller. The cooling system works under pressure to further increase the boiling point of the coolant. When outside temperatures are low, some of the coolant is diverted through a second radiator, the heater core, providing heat in the vehicle cabin.

Automobiles also include a thermostat. This heat-sensitive valve closes when the temperature drops below the set point, stopping the flow of coolant and increasing the operating temperature to improve fuel efficiency. Once the engine reaches the thermostat temperature, the valve opens and the coolant begins cooling the engine as it cycles.

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