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Coolant care tips for truckers

Sept. 24, 2012
Engine coolants are but one of several liquids coursing through a truck’s “body” you want to insure are in good shape and doing what they’re supposed to be doing.
Engine coolants are but one of several liquids coursing through a truck’s “body” you want to insure are in good shape and doing what they’re supposed to be doing.

Indeed, according to research by WIX Filters, a commercial vehicle’s coolant system is responsible for removing approximately 30% of combustion heat of heavy duty engines – with more than 53% of premature engine failures due to improper maintenance of cooling system components.

Thus, proper understanding of coolant types and adherence to vehicle manufacturer requirements are essential to ensuring that antifreeze effectively maintains engine temperatureand helpsprotect the cooling system from rust and corrosion, WIX’s experts discerned – with the need to follow such protocols only becoming more critical with the advent of stricter emission regulations in 2007 and 2010.

To that end, WX recently developed what the company calls a “Top 10 List” of tips to keep a truck’s engine coolant system in tip top shape. Those are:

  • Start clean and keep it clean– Make sure the entire system is clean – inside and out. Replace corroded and damaged components and use appropriate flush. Balanced coolant prevents – but does not fix – problems.
  • Use de-ionized or distilled water – Never use water “softened” with sodium.
  • Use quality EG (ethylene glycol) or PG (propylene glycol)– It is important to know the chemistry of your coolant; pay attention to whether you are using traditional IAT (inorganic additive technology coolant or organic acid technology (OAT) coolant.
  • Select the proper supplemental coolant additives– If you are using IAT, there are three ways to protect traditional coolant with supplemental coolant additives – standard service intervals, slow release and extended service interval.
  • Ensure proper balance – In order to effectively maintain engine temperature, coolant must be correctly diluted – usually in a 50/50 mixture with acceptable water.
  • Practice proper top-off – Do not over do your coolant by topping it off with water or coolant. You must use the correct 50/50 mixture.
  • Diagnose after use –The coolant filter catches dirt, debris, chemical precipitation and other contaminates – all things you can see. Review the filter closely after removal to determine whether debris or other contaminates are penetrating the filter and entering the coolant system.
  • Replace coolant when it’s time– Adhere to your vehicle’s change intervals. Also refer to the vehicle and the coolant manufacturer recommendations – and coolant manufacturer recommendations should be followed especially if you have replaced the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) coolant or specified something other than the OEM “default” formulas. As a result, replace your coolant when recommended by the coolant manufacturer.
  • Test, inspect and detect– Coolant should be tested regularly to check its freeze protection capabilities. Use coolant test strips or “refractometers” to determine the concentration ratio of coolant to water.
  • Practice proper handling and storage– Handle and store your coolant in a clean, temperature-controlled environment. 
  • Simple stuff, for sure, but it’s often when one overlooks the simple stuff that trucks get into trouble out on the road. 

    About the Author

    Sean Kilcarr 1 | Senior Editor

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