Coolant, also known as antifreeze, is the stuff that keeps your car's engine from overheating. If the fluid levels are low or contaminated, the cooling system won't be able to function properly and you might find yourself stuck on the side of the road with a smoking engine, looking at an expensive repair bill. It's important to get your coolant flushed and replaced at least once a year, but you should also keep an eye on things on a regular basis. As April is National Car Care Month, this is the perfect time to pop the hood and take a peek at your car's antifreeze.
Antifreeze is typically bright green or blue in color, making it easy to see the fluid in the overflow tank. This is typically located next to the radiator, which is at the front of most engine bays. It's easy to take a quick peek and make sure the levels aren't too low when you're checking the oil. You should also pop the cap, when the engine is cool, and examine the liquid itself. Look for signs of contaminants floating around and take note of the color itself. Any discoloration or particles could indicate there is a leak, which should be addressed as soon as possible to prevent further damage.
If levels are low, you should add more coolant as soon as possible. You can't just dump plain old antifreeze into the tank, however. It needs to be a 50/50 ratio of coolant and water. There are plenty of premixed options available to save you the trouble. If you're in a pinch, such as stuck on the side of the highway, you can use water alone, but this is an extremely temporary fix, and you should bring your car to a mechanic right away, so he or she can flush the system. New Jersey Auto Auction's Total Car Care Center is a great place to bring your car, truck or SUV, and the experts can spot any potential issues, such as leaks, to help you avoid a major problem down the line.