coolant ok?

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  #1  
Old 06-30-12, 11:29 AM
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coolant ok?

The service/maintenance schedule for my 98 Ranger says antifreeze/coolant should be changed every 3 yrs or 36,000 miles. The vehicle has 97,000 miles and I know the coolant has been changed periodically over the years, cooling system even backflushed at least a few times at times of coolant change. I have one of those cheap little coolant/antifreeze testers with the bulb on the top and the balls inside that will give you an indication of strength. I checked today and the got five balls. The coolant looks generally fine, nice and green, and the coolant level is good and all that. Trouble is, I didn't keep track of the mileage when I did the last coolant flush/change, and can't recall whether its been over three years either. So even though the coolant looks fine and apparently the strength is fine, is there a way I can test the actual condition of the coolant to see whether it's other protective qualities have actually deteriorated or maybe getting close to that point where it probably needs changing again? Any comments/advice appreciated.
 
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Old 06-30-12, 02:59 PM
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Ok I did locate my service record that shows the last time the coolant was flushed/refilled was 27,582 miles ago, and was in 2004. Now of course that's not 36,000 miles yet, but is way over 3 yrs.
 
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Old 06-30-12, 03:02 PM
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It's not a bad idea to periodically drain/flush and replace the antifreeze. Don't get snookered on buying the 50/50 stuff. It costs almost as much as regular 100% antifreeze, so you are paying half the price for water . Personally I use Sierra since it is not ethylene glycol based. It is friendlier to animals that may happen upon an accidental spill or leakage.
 
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Old 06-30-12, 03:13 PM
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Well yeah I realize it's important to drain/the antifreeze periodically, but I'd like to get an idea whether the stuff in there now is still fine or not. No reason to change it if I don't need to. I suppose if the recommendation is at least every 3yrs that must mean the coolant/antifreeze just "goes bad" after that time? But if that's not really the case then I could just wait until I hit 105,375 miles miles on the odometer (69,375 miles when it was done last, plus the recommended 36,000 mile interval), which with my typical driving habits could be yet another year or so. Sure its been a long time since it was changed, but it still looks good and still tests strong, and should "probably" be changed, but I'd kinda like know for sure, if that's reasonably possible.
 

Last edited by sgull; 06-30-12 at 03:29 PM.
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Old 06-30-12, 03:48 PM
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Don't get caught up with mileage and time. If it has the correct specific gravity, it is of good color, then I wouldn't mess with it. No overheating problems I presume. It ain't gonna freeze tonight, so leave it for another season.
 
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Old 06-30-12, 04:03 PM
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Nope no overheating problems. No obvious sign of anything like corrosion or fluff buildup or anything unusual when looking into the radiator fill hole. I'll just wait another "season" I guess then. No problem with that. What good are those manufacturers recommendations if most of the time you can just ignore them it seems? Other than to keep records for warrantees on stuff seems it seems like justa a buncha hoo-ha.
 
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Old 06-30-12, 04:31 PM
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Manufacturer's suggestions are for average to hard driving conditions. Obviously your driving habits and environment aren't too extreme. If you run up and down dusty roads, pull trailers regularly, climb mountains in 4wd, and other activities, then your change practices would have to follow suit. I don't change oil until I can't read the "fill" or "add" numeration on the dipstick. BUT, I check my oil at every fill up, so I am on top of it. With Cummins diesels, the recommendations vary too much....some say 4k, some 6k. Hey, it's got 410,000 miles on it, so I gotta keep an eye on it.
 
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Old 06-30-12, 04:35 PM
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I see. That makes sense. I think if I just keep an eye on things regularly like you say then I'll be fine. Have so far, generally. thanks
 
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Old 06-30-12, 05:27 PM
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Well...I sure am disagreeing with Chandler a lot today it seems....lol.

If your location is correct (Alaska)......then I think you should use the heavy/extreme service as a guide. In my time up there, short though it was, I never saw anything that wasn't rough service.

As said...the anti-freeze properties may still be fine...but specific gravity doesn't tell you about anti-corrosion or lubricant properties.

Antifreeze is pretty cheap...why take a chance?
 
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Old 06-30-12, 05:33 PM
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Oh, no prob, Vic. Post #3 suggested the same. I was getting the feeling Sgull didn't want to do it, so if the properties of the antifreeze were stable, and color wasn't messed up, so be it until next season.
 
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Old 06-30-12, 09:08 PM
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My location is SE "panhandle" portion of Alaska, where temps don't get as extremely cold as the geographical areas more to the north; weather is relatively mild here in comparison to those areas. The main reason reason I typically generally go by the more extreme service recommendations as far as oil changes, etc. is because I do a lot of short-distance driving in my small relatively isolated rural community. Yes, it's the anti-corrosion and lubricant properties of the coolant/antifreeze that I'm wondering about, whether it's likely those are shot by now, or not. But I guess there's no way for the average person to check that? Or is there? Or we just take it for granted that if the manufacturer says change every three years that means we absolutely should? It's not that I don't want to do it, but would just like a little more assurance that if I take the trouble/expense to do it that it's because it was necessary.
 
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Old 06-30-12, 10:05 PM
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Okay, after an extensive session of googling, I've concluded it's high time go ahead now and change out the coolant/antifreeze. Apparently the corrosion inhibitors in the fluid wear out after a certain average amount of years which can vary depending on the antifreeze/coolant formulation, typically 2-3 years unless the newer "extended life" formulation is used. Hopefully by waiting so long to change mine the damage to my cooling system hasn't already begun. thanks you guys for hearing me out anyway and for your input.
 
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Old 07-04-12, 11:44 PM
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Worst case if you don't you'll get to spend a weekend putting a new radiator and water pump in because they start leaking. It's cheap stuff and relatively simple. I drain and fill mine (personally I don't flush it) every 2-3 years and my car calls for extended 5 year 60,000 miles drains. They don't recommend "flushes". But, there is a bolt on the back side that drains the block fully on my Honda. Sometimes I drain that, sometimes I don't and figure some fresh fluid mixed with older isn't the end of the world and probably better than most car owners do for servicing their cooling system.
 
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Old 07-04-12, 11:52 PM
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Yeah I'd much prefer not to worry about doing a "flush" and just do a simple drain n refill every 2-3 years. Never really seen an actual manufacturer-recommended "flush" of the cooling system anyway. I suppose flushing is typically more for a system where regular recommended change intervals has been overlooked/neglected.
 
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