Most fleets and owner operators tend to focus on their engine oil and other fluid performance intervals, but neglect their coolant maintenance. They only focus on keeping the coolant system full (or topped off). This neglect has led to OEMs reporting that more than 20% of diesel engine failures are linked to coolant system issues or poor coolant maintenance.
The good news is that you can take some basic steps for better coolant maintenance. Before checking the system, make sure it is safe to do so by allowing the engine to cool to at least 100° F. Remove the radiator or coolant overflow tank cap carefully, with a rag covering the cap and proper eye and face protection.
Check the coolant system each time the vehicle comes in for an oil change, and record all results:
- Inspect the hoses, clamps and conduits for abrasion, wear and corrosion.
- Take a coolant sample with a small, clear bottle from the top of the radiator or by draining some at the bottom of the radiator.
- Inspect the coolant to make sure it is free of haze, debris and oil. Check the smell; any foul odors may indicate damage.
- Use test strips to check for inhibitor strength, the pH, and nitrite or Supplemental Coolant Additives (SCA) levels, as required by the type of coolant in use.
- Add SCAs as necessary or change the filter that adds them, as applicable.
- Check the freeze point with a refractometer. You can also check this using an appropriate test strip, such as the Chevron FleetFix Dilution Test for Delo® Extended Life Coolant.
Chevron has developed a new system called Kool Tools to help you implement a best-in-class coolant maintenance program. Contact us to find out how to get your own Chevron Kool Tools Kit.
Read a more detailed version of this article in Delo Lube Matters.