How often should antifreeze be changed?

How often antifreeze should be changed depends on the age, make, and model of your car. The general rule is to change your antifreeze after the first 60,000 miles and every 30,000 after that. If you don't change the antifreeze in your car as needed, there may be damage to your cooling system.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years

UPDATED: Jan 14, 2022

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What You Should Know

  • It’s suggested that you change your engine’s coolant for the first time after 60,000 miles and then every 30,000 miles
  • Factors that influence the lifetime of your coolant: make and model of the car, age, mileage, type of coolant, and environment 
  • Leaking fluid, overheating, and bad reactions to extreme weather are signs your coolant needs changing

To ensure your engine runs smoothly and is protected against extreme temperatures, you need a fresh, working coolant system. This coolant—commonly called antifreeze—maintains your engine’s temperature, preventing you from overheating in the summer and freezing in the winter.

Many owner’s manuals suggest changing your engine’s coolant for the first time after 60,000 miles and then every 30,000 miles after that.  While this advice is a good place to start, you should still consider the state of your particular vehicle, as some vehicles may require this change more or less frequently.

Changing your coolant is cheaper than the average repair cost for damage done by a failing cooling system, so it’s wise to keep up on maintenance.

Read on to learn more about how often to change the antifreeze in your car. Before you do, take a moment to see how much you could be saving on auto insurance by shopping around. Enter your ZIP code now for free quotes from top companies.

What is the standard time frame for changing antifreeze?

Changing your car’s coolant is a delicate balance. You want to avoid wasting money on unnecessary maintenance when your car’s cooling system is still in good condition. Alternatively, you don’t want to harm your engine by waiting too long.

So, while 30,000 miles is a reasonable indication, how often should antifreeze be changed? There are a variety of factors that influence the lifetime of your coolant:

  • Make and model of the car – Different manufacturers use different methods for constructing the engine’s cooling system. Some even have individualized advice for each of their vehicles. Check your car’s owner manual to see if they have a recommended time frame for a coolant service.
  • Age – The age of the car and the age of the antifreeze make a difference in timing. Older cars may need more frequent upkeep, while modern cars, designed to last a lifetime, may use up less antifreeze over time. Additionally, newer long-lasting engine coolant, normally made with a mix of 50% antifreeze and 50% water, can protect against harsh temperatures without needing a maintenance schedule for years.
  • Mileage As with most car upkeep, the more miles you drive, the more maintenance you may have to do. Some manufacturers recommend that any car over 50,000 miles be routinely tested to ensure the cooling system is functioning properly.
  • Type of coolant There are two main types of coolant: silicated and extended drain coolant. On average, silicated coolant lasts for about two years or 30,000 miles. Extended drain coolant, on the other hand, lasts for up to five years or 100,000 miles. You can tell the difference between the two by their color: silicate coolant is normally green while extended drain coolant is usually yellow or orange.
  • Environment – If you live in an area that experiences more extreme temperatures—both hotter hots and colder colds—your cooling system may have to work overtime to make sure your engine stays running. To protect from the sweltering heat and deep freezes, you may need to check on the performance of your coolant system more frequently.

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What are the signs that my car needs a coolant flush?

If you aren’t sure whether your cooling system needs to be flushed and your coolant replenished, there are a few things you can look for.

If your car does the following, your coolant may be to blame:

  • Leaking fluid
  • Overheating
  • Bad reactions to extreme weather (overheating, car not starting, etc.)

If you experience the following, you should take your car to a dealership or service center:

  • You smell antifreeze in or around your car.
  • You need to add coolant fluid repeatedly.
  • You open the drain valve and see that the coolant has turned a rusty brown color.
  • You see clogs in the coolant tubes in your radiator.

When in doubt, have your car looked at by a professional.

Why do I need to change my antifreeze?

Over time, coolant can deteriorate with repeated use, making it less effective in protecting against extreme heat and cold. The fluid becomes more acidic and loses its rust-inhibiting properties as it breaks down. This can result in corrosion in your engine.

Corrosion, the buildup of rust, can damage many parts of your engine’s cooling and heating systems. As the coolant fluid moves through the engine, it picks up rust particles and deposits them in different parts of the engine, distributing the problem.

Flushing the cooling system can help to keep your engine clean and prevent blockages. It can also ensure that your car’s coolant is working properly to keep your car running in very hot and very cold temperatures.

Unfortunately, even car repair insurance (mechanical breakdown insurance) won’t cover regular maintenance like coolant replacement,

How Often to Change Antifreeze: The Bottom Line

Cooling system service and maintenance are a crucial part of engine upkeep. Staying on top of how well your car’s cooling system is working can prevent more serious damage over time. Being a responsible car owner not only protects your engine’s function but also saves you time, money, and hassle.

As a driver, another key responsibility is having insurance. With insurance, you can worry less about how you’re going to pay your mechanic bill in an emergency and focus on getting back on the road.

Now that you know how to keep your cooling system up to date, you can save some money on your auto insurance. Enter your ZIP code for fast, free quotes from top companies today.

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