Coolant is essential for cooling and lubricating your engine. As we enter into road-trip season and the warmer summer months, part of your pre-trip inspection should be to check the coolant. 

Most modern vehicles have an accessible reservoir under the hood where you can check if your coolant/antifreeze is too low. Most gas stations sell both diluted and undiluted coolant, making it easy to find a place to buy coolant and add more if need be. But do you know what to do if you overfill coolant?

Before we address what to do if you overfill coolant, let’s take a look at why your coolant/antifreeze is so important. 

The Function of your Coolant

Coolant, also known as antifreeze, is an important component of your cooling system. Your coolant flows throughout your engine, keeping your engine at the optimum temperature to maximize fuel economy and lubricating its components. When an engine begins to run a little too hot, a valve opens, letting your coolant flow over your radiator. There, it is cooled, then returned to the main engine compartment where it is able to run over the engine and cool it. 

Coolant reservoirs, also known as antifreeze tanks, have two marks indicating the minimum and maximum fill line. Ideally you want your coolant to be in between these lines, not too full and not too low. Too far above or below these lines and your engine may be in trouble. 

Too little coolant is an issues for several reasons:

When there isn’t enough coolant in your vehicle your engine will be more prone to overheating. Because fluid levels will be so low, you’ll likely have more air in the engine, leading to airlocks. If left unchecked, an overheating engine can cause damage that can cost you thousands. 

Usually, a light will illuminate on your dashboard indicating an issue if your coolant is too low. 

A lack of coolant in the tank can also cause your temperature gauge to spike wildly outside of its normal range. 

Having too much coolant can be dangerous, too. An excess of coolant has the potential to cause electrical damage in your vehicle. In some cases, the excess coolant can be accommodated by your engine and exits the engine through the overflow hose. However, it is always a good idea to make sure that your coolant isn’t above the maximum fill line. 

What to Do if You Overfill Coolant

If you overfill your coolant it’s best to address it immediately to avoid any possible electrical damages. Ideally, you should stop at a local auto shop and have them remove the excess coolant. 

However, if you’re in a pinch or need to DIY you have two options. 

Most auto body parts shops sell pump action devices that extract coolant from the reservoir. 

If you’re not within range of an auto body parts shop, stop into any grocery and pick up a turkey baster. 

You can baste the excess fluid out the same way you would a turkey on Thanksgiving.

Make sure to wear thick gloves to protect your skin, and make sure that the reservoir you have is big enough for all of the fluid and is sealable. You can also opt to drain the tank instead, but this will entail replacing all of the coolant. 

Note: Coolant and other vehicle fluids are highly toxic. It is a crime to dump coolant fluid in any land. You must have a reservoir to collect the excess coolant and must dispose of it properly. 

You can bring your collected excess fluid to a recycling center or auto body shop. 

If you’re having issues with your coolant it’s always best to leave it to the professionals. Come in to Beetlesmith’s Valley Auto Service for your pre-trip checklist. Request an appointment today. 

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