As we head into the dead of winter, it’s comforting to think about the long hot summer ahead. Summer will mean more daylight and no more snow and slush to muddle through. But of course, it’s not all fun in the sun. Summer also means a higher likelihood of your engine overheating, as the sun beams down on those long workdays. Before we become lost in a daydream of warmer times, let’s examine how to maintain your truck’s engine coolant system—not just for the dog days of summer, but all year round.
Properly Store Coolant and Keep It On Hand
You may have heard that 90 percent of life is showing up. While we can’t put a number on how much of your coolant maintenance hinges on it being there in the first place, it certainly is important to always keep a supply of your preferred coolant at the ready. You don’t want to find yourself without a necessary item available. Keep your coolant safely and accessibly stored in a temperature-controlled space where it won’t be subject to extreme heat or cold that could spoil it.
Use Coolant Year-Round
When you get down to it, engine coolant is antifreeze. It’s just as valuable in the winter to prevent engine freezing as it is in the summer to protect against overheating. In fact, in extreme cold, you may want to use more coolant than you would in the summer.
Don’t Mix Coolants
There are many formulations of engine coolants on the market. Propylene glycol and ethylene glycol are the most reliable forms of coolant, so commit to one of these for your truck. Be wary of mixing them with coolants or additives that are high in nitrites, which react with the aluminum in the system to form highly corrosive ammonia.
1:1 With H2O
The one kind of mixing you should do with your coolant is mix it with water—a 50/50 mix of coolant and water, to be precise. More specifically, due to the minerals, you cannot settle for tap water when it comes to your engine. We don’t see the sodium, calcium, and magnesium found in most of our drinking water sources as we dispense it and drink it, but the telltale white residue of mineral deposits has a way of turning up later. Don’t let it turn up in your radiator, where it can compromise the performance and lead to overheating. Use only distilled water with your coolant.
Keep a Clean Truck
While Unitruck encourages improving your rig with aftermarket truck parts, you don’t want to buy new parts because poor maintenance has damaged them. The key to how to maintain your truck’s engine coolant system is to flush regularly and keep an eye peeled for corrosion—even a regular coolant won’t help a system in disrepair.