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AAA World | Auto | Maintaining Your Car
Should You Replace Your Antifreeze Regularly?

YES! NOT REPLACING YOUR OLD ANTIFREEZE WITH FRESH FLUID—OR USING THE WRONG FORMULA—COULD LEAVE YOUR CAR VULNERABLE TO DAMAGE

Q: I’ve heard that antifreeze never loses its ability to resist freezing. So, why must we replace it on a regular basis? My local service outlet is urging me to do it now, before winter.

A: You are correct that antifreeze retains its ability to resist freezing over time. Nonetheless, most automakers want owners of their vehicles to have the antifreeze drained and the cooling system flushed and serviced regularly. See your car owner’s manual for the recommended maintenance schedule you should follow.

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Antifreeze does more than resist freezing. Its most important job, of course, is to transfer heat from the engine to the air; however, it is also tasked with inhibiting corrosion and keeping seals and gaskets in good condition. Additives address these tasks, but over time, they wear out, leaving the cooling system unprotected. Coolant can also turn acidic with time. This can damage the radiator, water pump and the car’s heater.

antifreeze tank in car

Many antifreeze formulas are available today. When having a service facility undertake cooling system maintenance, make sure that the technician uses the antifreeze formula that is called for by the automaker. Sometimes even skilled technicians can make a mistake. Installing the type of antifreeze that meets the automaker’s specifications should ensure that you will not encounter problems due to any incompatibility between the antifreeze and the vehicle’s seals, gaskets or metals that are exposed to the coolant.