Engine Coolant Antifreeze – Engine Cooling And Testing Made Easy

Engine Coolant Antifreeze - Engine Cooling And Testing Made Easy
Engine Coolant Antifreeze - Engine Cooling And Testing Made Easy

The job of engine coolant antifreeze, is to protect the engine, from severe temperature and corrosion.

Always flush and replace your engine coolant antifreeze, at recommended intervals. Otherwise, it will break down and not perform its job.

Consequently, if your engine coolant antifreeze quality, prematurely degrades severe damage to the engine, and coolant system can result.

So, engine coolant antifreeze, has been called many different names. Actually, it should just be called, engine coolant. Because, whatever the water is mixed with, and at what strength, the end result is, engine coolant.

Engine Coolant Antifreeze – What Does It Do

Checking the strength of the engine coolant antifreeze, is very important. And, needs to be done for both, hot and cold weather driving.

A 50/50 mixture of ethylene glycol (EG) antifreeze and water will provide:

  • Boiling protection, up to about 255 degrees F with a 15 psi cap.
  • Along with freezing protection, down to -34 degrees F.

On the other hand, a 50/50 mixture of propylene glycol (PG) antifreeze and water will provide:

  • Boiling protection, to 257 degrees F.
  • Along with a freezing protection, to -26 degrees F.

So, increasing the concentration of antifreeze in the mixture, will raise its boiling temperature and lower its freezing point.

What About Corrosion, Caused By Electrolysis

Engine coolant antifreeze, also plays an important role in preventing corrosion, caused by electrolysis.

Corrosion Caused By Electrolysis
Corrosion Caused By Electrolysis

So, electrolysis occurs, when two dissimilar metals start swapping electrons, causing the metals to corrode.

Today’s engines have:

  • Aluminum
  • Copper
  • Cast iron
  • Steel
  • Magnesium alloys

So, electrolysis will slowly eat away, at all the internal parts.

In fact, old engine coolant, becomes a pretty good electrical conductor, accelerating internal electrolysis. The good news is that, it’s pretty easy to check the conductivity of your coolant, with a digital multimeter. Consequently, if the conductivity is high, it’s time for a coolant flush and fill.

Engine Coolant Antifreeze – Why Flush And Replace It

Flushing the cooling system, helps remove old scale and rust. Consequently, the corrosion inhibitors in new antifreeze, help prevent scale and rust buildup in the cooling system. New antifreeze, helps keep the engine operating at its most efficient temperature. Regardless of operating conditions, and outside temperatures.

Comparing Bad To Good Engine Coolant
Comparing Bad To Good Engine Coolant

When you don’t flush replace the antifreeze at recommended intervals, chemicals start to break down, and cannot perform their job. Rust and scale buildup can lead to, radiator hose, water pump or thermostat failure.

How To Test Your Engine Coolant, For Electrolysis ( Using A Digital Multimeter )

Corrosion can and will prematurely aid in, cooling system failures. It usually starts with, the water pump, radiator, heater core, and finally the thermostat:

  • To use your digital multimeter, start with a cool engine, and open the radiator cap.

Never open the radiator cap, when the engine is hot. Because, this will help prevent burn injuries.

  • With the cap off start the engine, and let it idle until it reaches, operating temperature.
  • Take your multimeter, set it to DC voltage and place the negative probe, on the negative battery terminal.
  • As for the positive probe, go ahead and dip that right into the coolant.
  • If the meter reads .4 volts or less, the coolant is good.
  • If it reads more than .4 volts, then the additives in the coolant, that prevent electrolysis, have broken down.
  • And, that means it’s time for a, engine coolant antifreeze replacement.

How To Test, Your Engine Cooling Fan Motor

Firstly, unplug the wiring connector on the engine cooling fan. After that, use a jumper wire from the battery, to route power directly to the fan. If the fan motor is good, the fan should spin at normal speed, when supplied with 12 volts. Noisy bearings or a slower than normal speed, would indicate a worn motor.

How To Test, Your Engine Coolant Temperature (ECT) Sensor

How To Test, Your Engine Coolant Temperature (ECT) Sensor
How To Test, Your Engine Coolant Temperature (ECT) Sensor
  • So, now that you know the engine coolant antifreeze is good, let’s move on to the (ECT) sensor.
  • First, be sure it is getting voltage at the harness. A bad harness or cut in the wire, can cause the same symptoms as a bad (ECT) sensor.
  • To test the harness for voltage, turn the key to the ON position. Use a multimeter to measure for 5 Volts DC.
  • The voltage may vary slightly, but should be close to 5 Volts.
  • If you get a good reading, than the harness is good. Move on to testing the Engine Coolant Temperature (ECT) Sensor itself.
  • If you do not get a good 5 volt reading, than the harness is bad.
  • A sensor can be tested, while still in the vehicle. You will need to be able to reach it, with the multimeter probes.
  • The first test should be done, with the engine cold.
  • To test it with a meter, set it to Ohms to get a resistance reading.
  • Use the multimeter leads, to touch the two prongs on the (ECT) sensor, were the harness plugs in.
  • A good reading with a cold engine, should be between 1.5 and 2 Ohms. But, if no reading is seen, than the (ECT) sensor is bad.
  • Sometimes a sensor can still give a reading, but not be working correctly. To test this do the same reading, but with the engine warmed up.
  • When the engine is warm, the resistance should drop. If it does not drop, than the sensor is bad, and needs replaced.


Follow the guidelines in your vehicle owner’s manual, for flushing and replacing engine coolant antifreeze. Also, make sure you are using, the proper type of coolant antifreeze, recommended for your particular vehicle.