Coolant Light On Car: What To Do Next

So what does it mean if the coolant light has come on in your car?

When the coolant light comes on in your car, it’s a warning sign that something is wrong with your car’s cooling system. It doesn’t necessarily mean immediate disaster, but it’s important to act promptly to avoid serious engine damage.

Here are some possibilities of what it could mean:

  • Low coolant level
  • Faulty sensor
  • Leak
  • Overheating

Here’s what you should do if your engine coolant light comes on while you are driving:

Pull over to a safe place and turn off the engine. If you’re driving, do this carefully without putting any additional strain on the engine.

Check the coolant level. Locate the coolant container (with a coloured cap) and check the level according to your car’s owner’s manual.

**If the level is low, do not drive. Add coolant (the correct type for your car) if you have some available.

Ignoring the coolant light can lead to expensive engine damage, so it’s crucial to take immediate action.

What is coolant in a car and why is it important?

Engine coolant is a vital fluid in your car that plays a crucial role in keeping your engine from overheating. It’s a colourful liquid, typically green, orange, or yellow, that circulates through the engine and radiator, absorbing heat and transferring it to the air.

Coolant is important because it stops your engine from overheating, it protects it against freezing and it also lubricates and protects certain parts of your engine.

How do I know when to check the coolant levels?

It’s not a bad idea to check your coolant levels regularly, even if you’re not experiencing any obvious signs of trouble, and especially before and after long driving trips.

The coolant level should be checked regularly. Most cars have a coolant container that allows you to easily see the level. The coolant level should be between the “min” and “max” lines. Coolant needs to be changed periodically. The frequency will vary depending on your car’s make and model, but typically it’s every 2-5 years.

What damage can low levels of coolant do to my car?

Driving with low coolant levels can be very detrimental to your car’s health, and the severity of the damage depends on how long you continue driving and to what extent the level is depleted.

Immediate problems:

  • Overheating – this is the most common and immediate problem for low coolant levels. Without sufficient coolant, your engine will very quickly overheat and lead to exacerbating issues including your engine boiling over.

Long-term damage:

  • Warped cylinder head – Caused by excessive heat which can cause leaks and compromise engine performance, this is a costly repair.
  • Blown head gasket – The intense heat and pressure can blow the head gasket, leading to coolant leaking into the engine oil or exhaust, resulting in major engine repairs.
  • Seized engine – In extreme cases, continued overheating can cause the engine to seize up completely, requiring significant and potentially expensive engine replacement.

Additional damage:

  • Radiator damage – The radiator can crack or warp due to the pressure buildup caused by excessive heat.
  • Failed water pump – In some cases, the water pump, which circulates the coolant, might fail due to increased workload or overheated conditions.
  • Internal component wear – The high temperatures can accelerate wear and tear on various engine components.

What causes coolant to degrade over time?

Several factors can contribute to coolant degradation over time, leading to potential problems for your engine. Here are some of the main culprits:
  • Thermal breakdown
  • Oxidation
  • Mineral deposits
  • Contamination
  • Improper maintenance

How can I maintain my coolant system?

To minimise degradation of your vehicle cooling system and ensure peak performance we would recommend regularly checking your coolant levels and booking in with us to have a complete coolant flush every 2 years.

Coolant Flush Essex, Mercury Cars

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By handing your car or van over to Mercury Car Centre, you can rely on our team of professionals to service and repair your car quickly and efficiently, using the very best equipment and working according to the code of practice approved by TSI. Your car is in safe hands with us!

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