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How long does coolant last? - sean
I've just been reading "Car Mechanics" letters pages.

A woman whose Toyota seized up after 11 years was complaining. The water pump had gone, which took the cambelt, which wrecked the engine, which made the car economically unviable.

In her service book, it said that the red coolant was filled for life and concentration checks were done by her dealer at annual services. Which they were. she'd done the lot.

The coolant, checked by the AA, was OK at 35% strength, but had no corrosion inhibition left.

My Golf is filled with G12 VW coolant. I have just rung Vantage VW in Leeds and am told "There is no recommendation to change it, Sir. It will last the life of the vehicle.

Answers please, not on a postcard, but here.

Thanks lads (and lasses)

Tags: owning overheating maintenance and servicing water pump

How long does coolant last? - Gen
4 years from new, then every two years. That's what I'd do.
How long does coolant last? - Dwight Van Driver
Handbook for my 89 XR3i stated coolant for life.......but I changed it two years ago with 5 year Comma as recommended by HJ

How long does coolant last? - Aprilia
This is an interesting question. There are several types of antifreeze, in all cases the 'anti-freeze' properties last the life of the coolant - its the corrosion inhibitors that deteriorate with time. The Toyota 'Red' antifreeze is just a typical ethylene glycol low-silicate formula, certainly not 'lifetime fill'.
Currently there is no antifreeze with a life greater than about 5 years.

1. Ethylene Glycol (e.g. Bluecol) - this is the traditional stuff that uses silicates to stop corrosion by passivating the metal surface. This is OK for most European cars, but not Japanese cars.
2. Ethylene Glycol - low silicate. This is required by most Japanese cars. OEM Nissan, Toyota 'red' etc. If you use high silicate AF's in jap cars the water pump seals tend to fail early. I think Merc. and BMW OEM antifreeze is also low-silicate and phosphate-free, but not sure.
3. Mono Propylene Glycol (e.g. Comma Coldstream) - this still uses silicates and is claimed to last 4 years. MPG does not conduct heat as well as EG and currently carries NO recommendation from any car manufacturer - best avoided, esp. for Jap cars. Only claim to fame is that its less toxic than EG.
4. Organo-Acid Technology (OAT) - e.g. GM 'DexCool'. Recyclable and biodegradable; organic based. Claimed life of about 5 years. MUST NOT be mixed with the types listed above - if you wish to switch to OAT type then system must be thoroughly flushed. I would not use this in an engine unless it was the original factory fill - there have been reports that it attacks certain seal materials and solders in some engines. GM (USA) currently having some fun with customers on this one....
5. Ethylene Glycol-based 'Hybrid Organo-Acid Technology' (HOAT). Uses EG, but with OAT-based corrosion inhibitors, most usually BASF's "Glysantin" package (also known as 'G-05'). Lasts 4-5 years (depending on who you believe). I think Halfords 'Advanced Antifreeze' is this stuff. Again, best to flush your system if switching to it.

The bottom line is to refill your engine with what the factory supplied and do a flush-and-refill eveery 4 years max.
If you have a Japanese car, stick to the maker's brand.
If mixing from a 'concentrate' then use distilled water to make up the quantity - UK tap water often has a lot of dissolved minerals in it.
How long does coolant last? - sean
This is exactly why I joined this board.

There are some very, very bright people here.

I have wound a few up in the past yet they still come back with superb advice.

Thanks guys. I thought that myself, but am asking why the biggest dealer in West Yorks for VW, Vantage no less, part of Sytner Group, whatever that is, is happy to tell me that no action is necessary. Sell me a new one, when my beloved fails?

A bit upsetting, actually.

Who can you trust?

Well, US, really.

Much appreciated. I'll buy some more coolant tomorrow. (New topics, air leaks, frozen with no heater output.... Who knows? )

How long does coolant last? - Aprilia
Good, I'm glad the info is of use.

I don't know the manufaacturers persist with this 'lifetime fill' nonsense. I remember back in the 1970's British Leyland were sending out cars with 'Do Not Drain' and 'Filled for Life' stickers on the cooling system. My father was runing his garage at the time and it was a regular thing to get 6 year old cars with the original coolant. The water pump was all rotted out and I remember pulling a top hose off the engine and the 'stub' was all rotted away.
My cars get a flush and fill every 2 years.
How long does coolant last? - Marcos{P}
On the Merc's I have ownedthey seem to change the coolant at about 70-80k. I don't know after how many years they would do it as my cars always hit high mileage very quickly so I tend to get rid of them after 3-4yrs.
How long does coolant last? - DavidHM
If you have a Renault, make it every two years. Renault cooling systems work fine unless the coolant loses its protective properties, at which point they overheat and everyone blames Renault design when in fact it's a lack of simple, preventive maintenance.

Okay, maybe it's more of a problem with Renaults than with other cars but still...

As it tends to be more of an age related than mileage related thing, probably three years or 60k is plenty often enough for most cars if you're one of the fastiduous school. Otherwise it's probably non essential, though of course manufacturers consider the life of the car to be about 9 years and 100k or so, after which the car has met its design specifications. Even if it could have gone on much longer with a little more care, it's not in their interest to stress that as the original buyer is usually long gone by then and the franchise dealers' labour rates are too expensive for a car of that age and low value.
How long does coolant last? - IanT
Just to confirm car manufacturer's optimism on coolant life...

Ford recommend drain/flush/refill after 10 years for new Fiestas with orange or pink coolant. A Google search for manufacturers making antifreeze to Ford's specification WSS M97 B44-D, yielded just one - Valvoline "Antifreeze Extreme" - which only claims "Extended life (up to 5 years)".

"Up to 5 years" presumably assumes the most favourable circumstances, so maybe 4 years is a good practical compromise.

How long does coolant last? - SteveH42
Toyota, OTOH, seem to be very conservative, specifying 3 years for the initial change followed by every 2 years after that on the Yaris.

Must remember to nag my mother at some point about getting her Saab serviced *properly* - it's hard enough getting her to change the oil every few years...
How long does coolant last? - Aprilia
Yes, Ford use OAT antifreeze for which a variety of claims are made. I think most of the suppliers suggest a 5-year life. GM have been using this stuff for a while in the US and have run into a number of problems with it. If you do a search on 'OAT antifreeze' or 'DexCool' (the GM brand name for it) you will see what I mean.
How long does coolant last? - David Lacey
Yeah! I remember those BL "Filled for life " stickers....trouble is it was a bit ironic as the Head Gaskets needed changing so often new antifreeze was always part of the operation! Therefore an antifreeze change was never required!
How long does coolant last? - eMBe {P}
"There is no
recommendation to change it, Sir. It will last the life of
the vehicle.>> >>

Well, in a way that is a true statement, because as you said earlier in your post: "... The water pump had gone, which took the cambelt, which wrecked the engine, which made the car economically unviable ..." !
How long does coolant last? - volvoman
Judging by the case you refer to Sean, the coolant in you car will last the life of the vehicle but could be the cause of a relatively short one !
How long does coolant last? - Dizzy {P}
Aprilia, that's a brilliant and incredibly helpful guide to the different antifreezes.

In an earlier thread I reported a similar instance to the Toyota and its siezed water pump. My son's Renault Cleo Diesel became a virtual write-off earlier this year due to the cambelt snapping which led to the camshaft and its drive sprocket breaking, damaged valves, etc. A garage-owning friend stripped the engine for him and found that the root cause was a siezed water pump and said this was not uncommon in engines where the antifreeze hadn't been changed when it should have been.
How long does coolant last? - Altea Ego
If I read this thread correctly does this mean that:-

Nicolles clio is 3.5 years old and done 25k. If I change the coolant, then i wont need to change the water pump at the cam belt change? (its recommended the pump is changed at cam belt time)

How long does coolant last? - afm
The comments below are about ?traditional? coolants, ethylene glycol or propylene glycol; I have no knowledge of OATs, HOATs, etc..

My understanding is that the coolant will absorb oxygen in normal use, both from the exposed surface in the expansion bottle and through the flexible hoses. Most rubber or plastic materials are permeable to oxygen, even when new. Plastic pipes used in heating systems (PEX or polyisobutylene) should have an oxygen barrier layer.

Once the oxygen in dissolved in the hot coolant, it will oxidise the glycols, producing acidic compounds. When new, the coolant will have a pH of about 10 (alkaline); once the pH drops below 7 (neutral), and becomes acidic, galvanic/bi-metallic corrosion will take place between the dissimilar metals immersed in the coolant.

As well as checking for the coolant concentration, using a hygrometer to check the specific gravity, the pH of the coolant should also be checked with litmus paper or a pH meter. The usual recommendation is to chamge the coolant every 2-3 years.

This topic has been discussed here before, try searching the archives.

Ethylene glycol is very toxic and is used as a wood preservative. Propylene glycol is non-toxic & is used as a sweetener. In winter, any spilt coolant will remain liquid and is liable to be drunk by animals, since all the available water will be frozen. I stumbled across the gem of knowledge on a website about Alaskan sled-dog racing; sad or what?

How long does coolant last? - 007

It appears from other posts that I may not have been doing the right thing in using Comma Coldstream.

My Golf 1.9D is due for a complete change so it will be no problem to use VW recommended coolant.

It would be nice to go the whole hog and use distilled water but from past experience I would have a problem doing this.

Having flushed the system, I thought there would be room for 6.3 litres of ready-mixed ‘Comma’. In fact, because the system would not drain 100%, there was room for only about 3 litres so I ended up with a rather weak mixture of about 3 litres of water and 3 litres of ready-diluted coolant.

Did I do something wrong apart from not standing the car on it’s nose so as to drain completely?

PS...for some strange reason, when I preview this post, things like '%2018 and %2019' appear...please ignore them if they appear in the finished article!
How long does coolant last? - Aprilia
I don't think that Propylene Glycol (eg Coldstream) is recommended by any manufacturer. It conducts heat less well and is more viscous than ethylene glycol (this means that cavitation corrosion is more of a problem).
I would flush and fill with fresh EG antifreeze.
You should be able to drain more than 3 litres - take off the rad bottom hose and open the block drain plug. Flush with tap water.
How long does coolant last? - Dizzy {P}

I would think that it is recommended to change the pump at the same time as the cambelt because it is easy to get to then and the extra time/cost is minimal. i.e. it's cheap insurance against pump failure at an awkward time and place. I would change it, whatever the condition of the coolant.

Incidentally, I didn't think to ask WHY not changing the coolant caused the pump to seize on my son's Cleo. I suspect it was seizure of the impeller against the pump body, but that's only a guess.
How long does coolant last? - eMBe {P}
How long does coolant last? >
A manufacturer makes the following claims for extrended long-life formulations:
>>>>> " ... ... It is a nitrite-, nitrate-, phosphate-, silicate-, borate and amine-free formulation which uses X?s patented carboxylate technology to provide maximum protection of the six basic metal alloys found in most heat transfer systems. Since the coolant contains no phosphates or silicates, hard water deposits in the cooling system are almost eliminated. The low level of abrasive dissolved solids in X's Extended Life Anti-Freeze/Coolant ... results in improved water pump seal life.

The life of a coolant in an automobile engine is limited by the corrosion protection ability of the corrosion inhibitors. The main corrosion inhibitors in X's Extended Life Anti-Freeze/Coolant ... have been shown to REMAIN ABOVE 95% of their original concentration after 150,000 miles in automobiles.

This allows much longer intervals between coolant changes without worrying about loss of corrosion protection. USED X's Extended Life Anti-Freeze/Coolant ... was tested in laboratory controlled corrosion tests for NEW coolants after it had ALREADY BEEN in service for MORE THAN 200,000 miles.

The USED X's Extended Life Anti-Freeze/Coolant ... passed the ASTM D 1384 requirements for glassware corrosion with results equivalent to NEW coolants and also passed the ASTM D 4340 Aluminum Hot Surface Test for NEW coolant. X's Extended Life Anti-Freeze/Coolant ... represents the next generation of universal engine coolants.

This coolant is suitable for a five year or 150,000 miles service life in automotive applications. ...." <<<<<<<

How to change coolant?:>
This is not as easy as an oil/filter change. Bearing in mind that the system should preferably be fully drained, and then FULLY re-filled; it can easily lead to damage if air pockets cause the flow to be blocked. So be very careful if you DIY.
How long does coolant last? - Aprilia
Yes, I know this stuff (the 'X' is significant.....). Currently GM buy it but have had problems. I gather that they are switching to a different formulation.

Incidentally, the mileage is not really significant - its more of a time dependent thing, so we are back to the 5-year max.
How long does coolant last? - IanT
If you just want to top-up the radiator with some of this long-life antifreeze (10 year / 5 year OAT), is it OK to buy a 5-litre can. Will what's left-over keep its properties until the next full service change is due in 10 years time?

How long does coolant last? - bafta
From a US information website for Mazda 626, and I quote.

'Maintenance interval is two years/24k miles, however coolant turns acidic within 9 months. Thus annual replacement is advised in the light of a galvanised steel pipe running the width of an aluminium engine.
Mixing aluminium and steel in a cooling system results in galvanic depletion of the coolant in under a year and scale deposits in engine heads can cause cracking, hot-spots that modify ignition deflagration and elevate top-end wear.'

Considering the cost and relative ease of changing the coolant compared with the problems which could occur I think that it should be changed at least bi-annually. But, 'you pays y'ur money and takes y'ur choice!
How long does coolant last? - sean
Thanks for your help, folks.

Please understand that I am in no way connected with German, French and swedish car parts.

I have to tell you that I went to the Leeds branch today and got my coolant. The proper stuff, in a genuine VW,Audi,Seat,Skoda bottle which says "marketed by VAG" on it. Price £4.11 inc vat.

Being curious (devious?), I called at Vantage VW in Leeds, the distributor. Nipped into the parts counter and asked how much the stuff costs there. VAG code G011 ABC A1.

Would you believe £9.36 inc vat?
How long does coolant last? - OptimaBen (formerly SeeFive)
I found the same price differential between Eurocarparts and Citroen in Leeds, Brake disks were about 1/3 of the price, coolant less than 1/2 price, oil filters 1/2 price.

Doesn't make you sorry for the dealers does it?

Most will let you supply your own parts for the service if they are genuine articles.

On my 3rd Citroen. Saxo, Xsara, C5.
How long does coolant last? - OptimaBen (formerly SeeFive)
The coolant may last for life, but if they change the water pump, thermostat or a pipe leaks, you will change the coolant.

Therefore, I guess, most cars will have a change of coolant at sometime.

On my 3rd Citroen. Saxo, Xsara, C5.

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