The cooling system keeps the engine running at its optimal temperature. When the engine is running outside of this range, it will result in increased fuel consumption and/or engine wear. The level of the engine coolant (antifreeze) needs to be checked to ensure that it is kept at the appropriate level. The coolant also needs to be checked to ensure that the concentration is adequate to protect your car in winter and provide the appropriate cooling in the summer.


Check the level of the engine coolant in the reservoir regularly. The concentration of antifreeze should be tested every fall to ensure that the engine is properly protected in the winter. The cooling system should be flushed and the coolant replaced in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations, usually around every 50,000 kilometers.

How do I do this?

Before you start you need to make sure that the engine is cold as the coolant does get very hot during driving and can easily scald you.

  • Locate the remote reservoir. If you are unfamiliar with where this is located, consult your owner’s manual or ask your local garage to check it and show you where it is. It is usually a white translucent container located to the left side of the engine compartment and often will have “engine coolant” or a tactile image of a radiator on the cap. Make sure not to mistake it for the windshield washer antifreeze reservoir which will usually have a symbol of a windshield on the lid to identify it.
  • If your vehicle does not have a remote reservoir, you will need to locate the cap on top of the radiator at the front of the engine compartment. If this is the case, it is very important to ensure that the engine is cool.
  • If you have a remote reservoir, check the level of the coolant against the “cold fill” indicator on the side of the reservoir. If not, remove the radiator cap slowly and carefully using a rag. Pressure build up in the cooling system during driving and you want to release any remaining pressure slowly so that the coolant does not spray out all over you and your engine.
  • Add coolant as required. Check your owners manual for recommended products and types.
  • If your level was low, while you have the hood open, inspect for any signs of leaking or cracked hoses.

Checking the concentration and/or replacing the coolant is likely something that you will want your mechanic to do, however once again if you are interested, you can observe and learn how this is done.

Want to see a video and learn how to check and add engine coolant? Click here!