Extending life of antifreeze carries a financial risk


Most of today’s cars come with long-life coolant.

This coolant has better additives and it definitely protects longer than the old green ethylene glycol.

Still, Douglas McAllister, owner of Douglas Automotive, is concerned that with less frequent oil changes, extended coolants and spark plugs, that such intermittent changes will be misconstrued by the car owner as no maintenance being required, or the maintenance services will be forgotten about completely.

A client who has extended the life of antifreeze by adding rust inhibitor every-other year asked McAllister if such was a wise move.

“You probably will get a whole bunch of different answers from professionals in the business, and none of them would be wrong,” McAllister said. “Over time, coolant will turn acidic and the additives start to wear out, which can cause gaskets and other components to deteriorate.”

If you have an older car that is using regular coolant, McAllister recommends flushing it out and changing it every-other year, or about 30,000 miles. With a long-life coolant you can at least double it and maybe a little longer, depending on how the coolant looks.

Can the coolant go to 100,000 miles? Maybe, but why push it to the limit? The savings does not outweigh the possible wear and expense this can cause.

“You can also test the coolant to make sure it is not acidic and that it still protects against freezing,” McAllister said. “This can be done using a special dip strip from the auto parts store.”

Lastly, anytime you need to change a component, like a hose or a water pump, you will be losing a good amount of coolant anyway.

“This repair is a great opportunity to change out all the coolant,” he said. “It is very probable such a repair will time out with the change interval anyway.”

Three locations:

Crystal Lake – 123 E. Virginia, (815) 356-0440

Barrington – 417 W. Main Street, (847) 381-0454

Fox River Grove – 416 Northwest Highway, (847) 639-4552

Visit for more info.

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