Even with the proliferation of extended life coolants, it’s not a fill-it-and-forget-it process. The chemistry of today’s extended life coolants is complex, and it’s important that you are maintaining the proper mix to ensure that you’re making the most of the “extended life” and not cutting its coolant lifespan short.
Let’s say that you’re running an ELC and coolant gets topped off but your techs aren’t topping off with ELC—they’re topping off with a non-ELC. One top off could mean that the inhibitor package built into the ELC is now diluted by 5%. After four top-offs with the incorrect coolant, your ELC coolant could be diluted past the point of extended-life effectiveness.
Most coolant formulations require 75 to 80 percent of its additive technology be maintained. Once it dips below that, you need to take action to bring your coolant back up to spec.
Many coolant suppliers can provide test strips and maintenance recommendations.
A freeze protection can be a good way to check your coolant’s additive integrity. it’s a common misconception that you don’t need to check the freeze protection mix in the summer. In days past, some fleets might have topped off with water, but that effectively raises the freezing point and dilutes the additives.
Then, do a tried-and-true visual inspection to check for leaks and ensure that nothing has contaminated the coolant. Oil leaking into the coolant system is a maintenance headache, but also needs to be diagnosed and dealt with swiftly.