Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

How Often Do I Need to Top Off My Coolant?

coolant top off

"Coolant" is a term used to refer to radiator fluid. The purpose of coolant is to circulate through the engine compartment of a vehicle to dispel some of the heat that’s manufactured through the combustion process. It flows through tubes or hoses into the radiator.

What does the radiator do?

A radiator is the cooling system in a vehicle. It is designed to transfer heat from the hot coolant that flows through it to the air blown through it by the fan. Radiators operate by pushing hot water from the engine block through hoses that allow the heat from the water coolant to dispel. Once the liquid is cooled down, it is returned to the engine block to absorb more heat.

The radiator is usually mounted in the front of a vehicle, behind the grill, which allows it to take advantage of the air intake that happens as the vehicle is being driven.

How often should I top off my coolant?

Anytime coolant loss happens, it is important to replace the coolant as soon as possible. If the radiator does not have enough coolant, it may not be cooling the engine down properly, and engine damage could result from overheating. Coolant loss is often first noticed when the vehicle’s thermometer registers a hotter than average reading. Typically, coolant loss is caused by a leak. A leak can be either internal, such as a leaky gasket, or external, such as a hose failure or crack in the radiator. An external leak is usually determined by a puddle of coolant underneath the vehicle. Coolant loss can also be caused by a leaky or improperly sealed radiator cap allowing the super-heated coolant to evaporate.

Failure to top off the coolant could result in catastrophic damage to a vehicle. If you’re noticing that you have to keep refilling the coolant, it’s important to have a licensed mechanic inspect the cooling system to figure out why the coolant loss keeps occurring.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.


Post a question and get free advice from our certified mechanics.


More related articles

How to Transfer a Car Title in Idaho
In order to prove ownership of a car, you must have the title. However, when a car is sold, given away or inherited, the title needs...
The Traveler’s Guide to Driving in Malaysia
CraigBurrows / Malaysia is a popular destination for many tourists today. The country has amazing sights and attractions that you will want to explore....
Auto Safety Tips
Driving is more than a way to get from point A to point B. Owning and driving a car can also be a highly enjoyable experience. Whether a person is driving...

Related questions

Q: Coolant leak causing overheating.

The service engine light would have to be scanned to find the cause of it being on. The overheating can be caused by the thermostat stuck or the fan control system problem. Since the engine overheated the loss of coolant...

Q: Truck over heating

It is possible to have a partial blockage in the radiator or air in the cooling system. Make sure that the fan shroud is fully attached with no gaps. It helps the system cool by forcing air to be pulled...

Q: Coolant

The green stuff is a cheap and general alternative to the dex-cool. The green universal coolant does the job just as well and should be ok, but there are special additives GM makes available in the dex-cool that the other...