Tips for Summer Coolant Maintenance

Haul truckProper coolant maintenance is just as important in the summer as it is in the winter. Be sure your fleet can take the heat this summer with the following “tips” for maintaining coolant formulations and monitoring cooling system performance.

Check Coolant/Water Ratio

The first step is to check the coolant to water ratio. A concentration of >65% coolant during the summer can lead to heat exchange issues, which can negatively impact the engine components causing costly damage. When coolant concentration is too low, the coolant can boil, which leads to cavitation, corrosion and premature engine failure.

As a rule of thumb, a 50/50 ratio of coolant to distilled water should be maintained to ensure efficient heat exchange between engine fluids. Coolant-to-water ratio can be measured using test strips or a glycol refractometer.

Perform Regular, Comprehensive Coolant Analysis

To monitor both coolant condition and cooling system performance and to identify possible deficiencies in maintenance practices, coolant samples should be taken regularly and sent to a third-party laboratory for quality testing and expert analysis.

Standard testing monitors corrosion, pH, glycol and inhibitor concentrations and identifies both contaminant and inhibitor metals present. It also provides a visual assessment of any petroleum contaminants or precipitation.

Premium testing can pinpoint cooling system issues like such as localized overheating, air leaks, combustion gas leaks and electrolysis. By identifying changes in coolant properties, these tests can help prevent premature engine failure and bring to light as well as other issues that may pose an immediate or long-term threat to engine life.

Routine coolant analysis can save companies thousands of dollars by reducing both unscheduled downtime and unnecessary coolant drains.

Make Timely Repairs

When coolant or cooling system issues are identified, it’s important take the necessary maintenance action as soon as possible to avoid overheating, cavitation, pitting of metal components and coolant degradation.

When using conventional coolant formulations, supplemental coolant additive (SCA)treatments must be maintained to protect all equipment systems and seal materials. It’s never a good idea to mix coolants as some additives may not be compatible with others. It is better to flush the system entirely before switching to a different formulation.

Don’t Fill With Water

It’s a common misconception that the system can simply be filled with water during the summer. Filling with water only can damage the system. Coolant works to raise the boiling point of the water from 212°F to 225°F. Properly pressurized systems then increase this boil point further. Using only water poses the risk of a much lower boil point within the engine, which can lead to catastrophic failure.

A coolant’s corrosion inhibitors prevent a chemical reaction known as galvanic corrosion by inhibiting the flow of electricity. Water, on the other hand, is a conductor and would allow corrosion to occur at a much faster rate.

Educate Employees

Drivers and other employees should have enough knowledge of coolant formulations and cooling system maintenance to operate equipment safely and efficiently. They should also be given summer-specific instructions for recognizing any “red flags” that might indicate the onset of an issue. Review reporting policies with them as well so that when problems are identified, they can be addressed in time to prevent unnecessary failure.