Not Getting A Coolant Flush Can Leave You Stranded

Not Getting A Coolant Flush Can Leave You Stranded

You’ve seen this scene in just about every TV show or movie when a car breaks down: the car is sputtering, white smoke is coming from the hood, and the driver is standing exasperated outside the car. You dread the thought of this ever happening to you in real life, but what else can you do besides call roadside assistance? For starters, you should never open a hot radiator cap as it can severely injure or blind you.

It’s always helpful to know a little about how your car runs, and what happens when it’s not running smoothly. The white “smoke” is usually steam coming from your radiator, and likely means that your engine has overheated. Your car is probably in need of a coolant flush.

That last sentence probably earned a sea of blank stares and scratched heads.  You may be thinking, “WHAT is a coolant flush?”

Coolant — or antifreeze — is the liquid poured into your car’s radiator to help keep the engine at a cool enough temperature for the car to run smoothly. A car’s engine is running constantly from the time you start it up to the time your turn it off, and all the friction of the moving parts is bound to generate heat. When the engine gets too hot (and sometimes when it gets too cold), the parts are likely to seize up and stop working. So, the coolant passes back and forth through the engine and the radiator to help keep things running.

At some point, the coolant will break down and not be as effective at balancing engine temperature. It may even become contaminated with foreign particles that could clog the cooling system and cause more extensive and expensive damage. The old coolant will need to be drained and the system cleared — or “flushed” — so that fresh coolant can be poured in.

A true coolant flush involves draining all of the old fluid, running a combination of distilled water and a coolant flush chemical through the cooling system, then adding new coolant fluid (preferably a 50/50 mix) once the flushing solution is drained. This process ensures that any dirt or rust particles that might have been floating in the old coolant are washed out of the cooling system, so that not only does the coolant keep the engine at an optimum running temperature, it helps to stave off corrosion — keeping the car in tip-top shape.

A coolant flush is typically suggested at 60,000 miles, though it’s a good idea to check your car’s owner’s manual to see what the manufacturer recommends. There may also be information about the type and brand of coolant that should be used.

Getting a professional coolant flush may reasonably average about $100, though it could run less expensive during seasonal promotions, particularly during the weather changes that affect engine temperature (or that can crack your radiator). This will also save you thousands of dollars of potential damage down the line, because if your engine overheats and you’re unaware you could require an entire motor overhaul.

You may not monitor your cooling system as often as you fill your gas tank or change your engine oil. But it is definitely a smart idea to monitor your cooling system and get a coolant flush before your car (and you) starts steaming.

For the month of September, Bellingham Automotive will be running a special promotion of $15.00 off each coolant flush, so now is the perfect time to bring your vehicle in to avoid more expensive repairs down the line.  We’ll also be able to check out anything else while you’re here, to keep you rolling.

For more information about Bellingham Automotive, you can contact us by phone at 360-676-5200, or through our website, at