Whenever a fluid is in contact with metal electrochemical degradation takes place which results in a higher than normal level of acid present in any given fluid.

 This higher acid level, if left unchanged, can result in very costly repairs. As a result, it is recommended to flush your cooling system, and most importantly PH balance your antifreeze at least once every 2 years or 30,000 miles.

 This will help reduce the acid level and extend the life of your radiator, heater core, and waterpump, head gaskets, freeze plugs, radiator and heater hoses.

 Why is it important to have your cooling system flushed by a knowledgeable repair shop with all the right equipment? Why can't you do it yourself.

You have probably heard many times that your cooling system should be -35 degrees, and you wonder why, when it never gets that cold. The reason is water is the best conductor of heat because the molecules are spaced far apart and heat can move into the water very easily.

 The problem with water, it is corrosive when in contact with metal and can freeze. Ethylene glycol silicone based antifreeze is added to the water, to protect the metal, keep the water from freezing, and lubricate the moving parts in the cooling system such as the water pump and thermostat.

If you use 100% antifreeze, the engine may overheat in hot weather with or without your air conditioning on. The reason is antifreeze molecules are packed tightly together and are unable to remove the heat from the engine as efficiently as water.

The condenser for your car's air conditioning operates much hotter than the radiator, which is why it is placed in front of the radiator. The radiator dissipates the heat from your air conditioning condenser and this makes the coolant even hotter! With today's new computer controlled engines the coolant temperature, is most important.

The temperature sensor tells the computer, along with other sensors, how to adjust the fuel mixture and ignition timing. This may affect engine performance and efficiency. For the best heat removal and metal protection 50% water and 50% antifreeze is desired.

 The proper mix is determined by checking the coolant level, -35 degrees equals 50/50. The problem comes when the PH of water is 7.0 to 7.2 and antifreeze PH is 10.5 right out of the gallon. A 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze would have a PH factor of 8.75. This level is too acidic for today's cooling systems.

The recommended PH level should be between 9.8 and 10.5, this level greatly reduces the acid content, which together with electrochemical reaction of dissimilar materials causes electrochemical degradation.


1. Pressure testing cooling system for leaks.

2. Flushing engine, radiator and heater core in both directions.

3. Bring antifreeze to -35 degrees.

4. PH balance coolant to between 9.8 and 10.5.

5. Visually inspect radiator-cooling fan for proper operation.

6. Visually inspect heater operation.


Heat-Producing Engines Still Need Cold Weather Protection

If it is not maintained properly, a car engine can overheat just as easily in the winter months as during the summer.

To avoid problems, Three Star Auto Technicians advise motorists to place additional emphasis on preventive maintenance of the cooling system this fall.

Engine Coolant

Ask your service technician to check the condition of the liquid coolant. The proper amount and mixture of water and antifreeze will help prevent overheating in the summer and provide freezing protection down to -34°F, which is sufficient for most geographic areas this winter.

Have the coolant level checked every six months. The cooling system should be drained and back-flushed, and new coolant should be added every two years. By neglecting this replacement cycle, the coolant may not protect the engine from damaging rust and corrosion.

Coolant Hoses

Coolant hoses are a very important part of the total cooling system. They are the fluid connectors between the engine, the radiator and heater. Most cars have a handful of hoses.

Since hoses are so vital to safe engine operation, Three Star Auto Technicians  recommend replacing them if they are over four years old or if they feel soft at the ends.

They can be conveniently replaced when it’s time to flush the cooling system and install new coolant.

Coolant Hoses Need Attention Before Winter Driving Season


Coolant hoses are essential parts of the total cooling system.

They must work year round as the fluid connectors that carry liquid coolant between the engine, radiator and heater.

The upper radiator hose delivers hot coolant from the engine to the radiator, while the lower hose returns coolant to the engine.

The bypass hose circulates coolant through the engine when the thermostat is closed. Heater hoses carry coolant between the engine and the heater core.

Since hoses are so vital to safe engine operation, Three Star Auto Technicians say they should be checked by your service technician before this winter’s driving season.

Hoses showing obvious signs of wear such as cracks, cuts, stiffness, bulges, excessive softness or abrasions should be replaced immediately.

They can be conveniently replaced when it’s time to flush the cooling system and install new coolant.

At the very least, Three Star Auto recommends replacing coolant hoses every four years because there often is no visible, early warning sign of failure.

A good-looking hose can fail due to deterioration of the reinforcement. This deterioration cracks the hose tube, allows liquid coolant to further weaken the reinforcement, and eventually results in an unexpected hose burst or pinhole leak.

If You Smell Coolant This Fall, Your Car May Not Make It Through The Winter

The fall driving season can tell you a lot about how your car will perform this winter.

When you first turn on the heater, if you smell the distinctive odor of engine coolant, or you notice that the level in the overflow tank is dropping rapidly, it's time for a cooling system checkup by your Three Star Auto Service technician.

If you're lucky, it may be just a leaky hose connection that can be solved by tightening the coolant hose clamps.

However, if the car is four years old or older, you should consider a safer solution: replace the radiator hoses and the bypass hose.

If the smell is strong in the passenger compartment and the windshield tends to steam up, you might need to replace the heater hoses or the heater core.

In cases where none of the above is the culprit, have the water pump inspected for leaks.

Ask us to check for shaft seal failure by carefully inspecting the water pump weep hole. When a pump is new, some leaking is normal in the initial hours of operation as the seal seats. Other than minor leaking, any leakage that occurs is due to seal failure and the pump should be replaced immediately.

This can easily be done if you are also having the cooling system drained and flushed before the winter driving season.

Ask Your Service Tech To Prepare Your Car For The Rigors Of Winter Driving


A few simple precautions now can increase your motoring safety this winter season.

Three Star Auto Service Inc. offers the following checklist for you and your service technician:

Battery Icy-cold temperatures can reduce a vehicle's battery power by up to fifty percent. If the battery is barely turning the engine over now, it is likely to fail during winter. If your vehicle battery is older than three years, have it tested. Also, make sure the posts and connections are free of corrosion.

Belts and Hoses – Modern materials have made belts and hoses very durable with relatively long lives, but they can deteriorate over time and fail without warning. Most cooling system hoses fail from the inside, so to avoid an unexpected burst or pinhole leak, We suggests replacing the hoses, especially the upper radiator hose, every four years. Belts showing excessive glazing on the top surface, or cracks in the V-ribs should be replaced immediately, The four-year replacement cycle applies to belts, as well.

Coolant -- Inspect the coolant annually. If it has an oily, reddish-brown foam, it may be contaminated by transmission fluid. If the coolant is rusty, the cooling system may need a chemical cleaning and flushing. It can be tested for the proper 50-50 mixture of antifreeze and water that will offer freeze protection to at least – 34ºF., and will provide adequate boilover and anticorrosion protection in most cases.

Preparing your car for winter driving this autumn is a good investment in carefree driving.

Preventive maintenance can save you the cost and inconvenience of a breakdown, or the torment of a no-start on a frigid winter morning