What is a coolant service and why is it important?

In Vehicle Fluids, Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

If you’ve brought your car in for service lately, maybe you heard that it’s time for your vehicle to have a coolant service.

What exactly is a coolant service, also known as a cooling system flush?

A coolant service is where we remove all of the rust, sludge, and dirty coolant (also known as antifreeze) fluid from your car’s radiator, water pump, and water houses. Technicians working on a coolant service will drive the coolant from your vehicle, flush the car’s system, and replace it with a fresh mixture of coolant. Coolant is made up of a mixture of either ethylene or propylene glycol and water – 50/50.

Why is a cooling system flush important?

The most obvious reason would be to ensure that your vehicle’s cooling system is working well, but let’s dig a bit deeper into exactly why getting a coolant service is important. The coolant flows through your radiator and water pump, which is an important piece of keeping your engine cool. Another reason why a cooling system flush is beneficial is that it provides heat through the heater core, and lastly because it lubricates the water pump.

Why does my vehicle’s coolant need to be changed?

As with almost everything in your vehicle, over time things will need to be repaired, replaced, and swapped out – your coolant is no different. Over time the coolant in your vehicle will become contaminated through the contact with the aluminum (think radiators and cylinder heads), iron (your car’s engine block or water pumps), and rubber, and this will lead to material buildup over time in your coolant.

All of that material moves through your vehicle, getting deposited in areas like the heater core and the radiator. Why does that matter? Because with that buildup, it reduces your cars ability to remove hear and can damage the internal pieces of your vehicle due that heat and buildup.

“As the coolant gets contaminated it loses its ability to lubricate which can cause early failure of the water pump. Changing the coolant removes the old fluid and contaminants restoring performance and lubrication of your cars cooling system,” said HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire General Manager Richard Campbell.

How often do I need to change the coolant?

Every vehicle is different, and you should always consult your vehicle’s manual for specific intervals, but it is generally recommended that you have a coolant system flush at 30,000, 50,000, and 100,000 miles. Over the past few years some vehicle manufacturers have been extending coolant service intervals, but getting regular service can help you prevent costly repairs and breakdowns in the long run.

Make sure your vehicle is ready for the winter – what to look for

In Car Safety, Tires & Wheels, Vehicle Fluids, Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

The colder months are approaching in Virginia, and with that cold comes snow, ice, and changing road conditions.

As a driver in the Northern Virginia area, it’s always a good idea to keep your eye on the condition of your vehicle. Especially as a driver in the Washington, D.C. area you need to be following the severe service intervals per the owner’s manual for your vehicle, in order to ensure that your car is ready year round. This is a great basic service interval to go off of, because the wear and tear on the cars from traffic and congestion. And when the seasons change, it is very important that you get some key things looked at on your vehicle, to make sure you’ll make it through the winter safely.

Here’s what we recommend that you have inspected at a qualified automotive shop, before the winter weather really sets in.

check your tire pressure monthly as the tempurature drops

Check your tire pressure monthly, as the temperature drops

Your tires.

Your vehicle’s tires need to be in good shape in the winter, as they’re what help you to brake quickly and steer through icy road conditions. If you typically use a summer tire for your vehicle in the warmer months, then it’s time to change over to an all season or winter tire, depending on your vehicle and driving needs.

In addition to potentially switching the set of tires on your vehicle, you need to also make sure that the tires are being checked for air pressure and tread depth. Your tires need to be properly inflated in order to work effectively – and prevent you from ending up on the side of the road with a flat tire. The tread depth is equally important, as worn down tires with minimal to no tread make it more difficult to brake and handle the vehicle safety in adverse weather conditions.

Your lights.

Especially with it getting dark earlier in the day, it is important that all of your vehicle’s lights are working properly, in order to ensure full visibility. You can walk around your vehicle with the lights on to check that no bulbs are blown out – grab a friend to help if need be. We can also assist you with checking the bulbs and replacing them.

Your vehicle’s battery.

get your battery checked and tested before winter sets in

Get your battery checked and tested before the winter

When it gets colder, a lot of drivers find that they have issues with their car’s battery – often in cases where you need it the most. At our shop we’re able to hook up our battery analyzer to your vehicle to test that the battery is in good condition, and that it can still produce the electrical load that your vehicle requires for starting.

We can also help to make sure that the cells on the battery are good, which can help you to avoid electrical problems with your car.

The vehicle’s cooling system.

Your vehicle’s cooling system makes sure that parts of your vehicle don’t freeze up, and that everything works smoothly. So when the winter comes, you need to make sure your cooling system has been services. The first thing you’ll want to have done is to have a technician check the antifreeze in your car. Is it the correct level? Does the fluid look dirty? What is the alkaline level? These are all things that need to be checked to make sure your cooling system is working properly.

Changing out the fluids is also an important part of servicing your cooling system before the winter season. The coolant fluid needs to have a proper mixture in order for it to work properly and keep your vehicle from freezing up. We can replace those fluids, and drivers should have their coolant inspected and changed out around every 60,000 miles as a standard.

check your cars heater and defrost controls before winter sets in

Check your car’s heater and defrost controls before winter sets in

Your heater and defroster functions on the vehicle.

While this may sound simple, going through each of the modes on your cars temperature controls with heating, air conditioning, and defrosting functions, is important to ensure that they’re working. Especially with the defrost function, you need to test this to make sure air is fully blowing air on the windshield.

Your wiper blades.

In the winter your wiper blades can take a serious beating, especially when you’re dealing with rain, ice, and snowfall. Before winter hits, consider changing out your wiper blades, and have them inspected to see if they’re still in good shape. You should be looking for small cracks or if the rubber is hard – good signs that they need to be swapped out. Also, if they haven’t been changed in one year, it is most likely time to invest in a replacement.

Your vehicle’s transmission.

replacing your dirty air filter can save money on gas

Replacing your dirty air filter can save money on gas

Regardless of what season it is, it is very important for drivers to take care of their vehicle’s transmission. You want to have the transmission inspected to make sure that the levels are correct and that there are no signs of burning – which is the wear from the friction material in the car – that could cause issues for your vehicle later.

Also, make sure you’ve got a snow brush and ice scraper, so that you’re prepared when the snow and ice does come.

7 things to do, to get your car ready for the spring

In Brake Fluid Flush, Cabin Air Filter, Oil Change, Tires & Wheels, Vehicle Fluids, Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Now that the hard winter months are behind us and we’re moving into spring, it may be time for you to do some ‘spring cleaning’ and bring your car to the shop for some maintenance.

Here are some seven things we recommend for your vehicle, now that spring is on its way:

7 things to do, to get your car ready for the springGet your cabin air-filter swapped out.

While getting your cabin air-filters changed regularly is an important part of regular maintenance, it’s even more important when it’s springtime, in order to keep pollen and other things in the air out of your car.

“That cabin air filter filters your pollen, the dust, and getting ready for spring you want a good, fresh cabin air filter in there,” said Rich Campbell, manager at HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire.

 

Get your car’s fluids flushed, especially your coolant.

7 things to do, to get your car ready for the spring

Radiator hose replacement at HomeTowne Auto Repair and Tire

Now that winter is pretty much over, it’s a good idea to get all of your car’s fluids checked, flushed, and refilled – especially your coolant, as the coolant keeps your car cool and working properly, as temperatures continue to climb.

“Given the fact that we’re going to start coming in to warmer weather, your car’s going to be running a little hotter because the ambient temperature’s going to be warmed up, so coolant’s a good fluid to get changed now,” said Campbell.

 

Get your tires inspected, to make sure they’re in good shape.

7 things to do, to get your car ready for the spring

Brake fluid flush on Jeep at HomeTowne Auto Repair and Tire

During the winter, driving through snow and ice can really take a toll on your tires. Having your tires inspected, to make sure that they’re still safe to drive and have enough tread on them is huge as spring rains move through the area. If your tires are worn down, you won’t be able to have the traction you need, for stopping time on wet surfaces. A few seconds may not sound like much when it comes to traction on your tires, but can make a huge difference when your stopping time is impaired.

“You need to make sure you’ve got adequate traction,” said Campbell.

If you use winter tires, it’s time to swap them out.

While many people now opt for an all season tire, if you’ve invested in winter tires for the bad weather in Virginia, then now it’s time to preserve the life of those tires, and switch over to some all season or summer tires.

Get all of your bulbs and lights checked.

7 things to do, to get your car ready for the spring

Replacing tail light bulb at HomeTowne Auto Repair and Tire

This is another part of good vehicle maintenance that you should be doing year round, but as part of your vehicle ‘spring cleaning’ it’s a good idea to make sure that all of your lights and bulbs are working correctly, and replace the ones that have fizzled out.

Get your hoses checked for dirt and grime buildup.

During the winter time, things like salt and grime can work their way into your car, specifically your houses, and cause a problem later if it goes unchecked. You don’t want to wait until you’re having a problem with your hoses, to find it was something that could have been prevented with a little maintenance.

“Dirt and grime accumulates from the winter salts we’ve endured. That salt’s pretty tough on the underside of a car,” said Campbell.

7 things to do, to get your car ready for the spring

Wheel Alignment at HomeTowne Auto Repair and Tire

Get your alignment checked.

In the winter you’re bound to deal with all of the potholes that have accumulated from snow and plowing, and maybe you even ran into a few curbs during a storm. No matter what the reason is, getting your alignment checked and corrected, and having a technician check for tire wear are important parts of springtime maintenance.

The multi-point courtesy check that HomeTowne does will pick up a lot of these issues and more, and comes free with all of our standard oil changes. Be smart this spring, and make sure your car is ready to go for spring and summer road trips, not stuck in the shop for costly problems.