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Does ethylene glycol-based coolant have a shelf life?

I have a gallon container of Prestone Dex-Cool approved 50/50 prediluted coolant (purchased late 2014). I've been using this 1-2 times per year to top-off the coolant in my 2014 Cruze. (I'm guessing I haven't used more than 16 oz. total.) Later on this year I'll be having the cooling system flushed.

Is it okay to continue using my existing Prestone coolant or should I buy a new gallon?
I'd say shelf life is comparable to its service life; 5 years.
 

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I'd say shelf life is comparable to its service life; 5 years.
That's also what I've generally assumed.

However, my mom had the coolant in her 2012 Honda Fit changed recently at a Honda dealer. I was checking the level in the overflow bottle this weekend for the first time since it was changed and noticed it's at the minimum level. I was going to top it off, but the container of Genuine Honda Type 2 Coolant (the blue stuff) mom has was purchased 4.5 years ago. Not wanting to add old coolant from the container to the new coolant in the car, I took the container of coolant to the Honda dealer with the intent of recycling it and purchasing a new gallon. But the guy behind the parts counter said the old coolant is still okay to use; the 5-year clock doesn't start until the coolant is actually in the car.

This got me wondering about my Dex-Cool coolant. Both it and the Honda Type 2 coolant are ethylene glycol-based. Is the Honda parts counter guy wrong or is there something "special" about Honda coolant?
 

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Do you open the bleed screw with engine idling at operating temp? Preferably on incline with radiator at higher elevation?
 

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The coolant drain plug on the Holden Cruze 2012 1.8L is under the front right corner and easily accessible. No need to remove the plastic panel. I like to have the cars front end right side lower to drain more out. First I flush with tap water then two or three times more using demineralized water.
 

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Could you evaluate on "operating temperature"? I don't know when it's at operating temperature because my cruze 2014 doesnt show coolant temp...thanks much!
 

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How-To: 2011-2016 Cruze Antifreeze/Coolant Flush


Overview:
The DexCool antifreeze/coolant in the Cruze is rated for 5 years or 150,000 miles, whichever comes first. At the end of that service interval, it needs to be flushed out and replaced with new antifreeze. You can do this easily in your garage with some basic tools and a bucket.


Tools Required:
  • 13mm socket & ratchet
  • A clean 1+ gallon bucket
  • Flathead screwdriver & needle nose pliers, or a plastic fastener removal tool (Available on amazon.com)
  • A T-20 Torx bit and driver
  • 2 feet of 5/16" or 1/4" hose (I used 5/16" since I had some old transmission cooler line laying around)


Parts Required:
  • 4 gallons distilled water (No, you cannot use tap water. Water quality is critical with cooling systems. Distilled water is just $1 a gallon at any grocery store.)
  • 1 gallon 100% concentrate antifreeze

Note: Everything I've read and experienced has noted that DexCool, when used according to its intended service life, is a reliable coolant to use. You can use whatever antifreeze you'd like for this, just pay close attention to its rated service life and make sure to flush it out when it has reached the end of that service life.

For my Cruze, I decided to use AMSOIL's Low Toxicity Propylene Glycol antifreeze, which is rated for 150,000 miles or 5 years (whichever comes first), just like DexCool. This antifreeze is compatible with DexCool and will not cause problems if they are mixed. The reason I chose this was due to its low toxicity (I have kids and a dog and this means I have to store one less toxic product), its excellent corrosion, scaling, and cavitation/pitting resistance, and the fact that it's biodegradable. You can purchase this here: AMSOIL Low Toxicity Antifreeze and Engine Coolant.




Procedure:
First, we will need to remove the under-body shield that sits directly underneath the radiator. Using the T-20 torx bit, remove the six screws holding it on (two are toward the outer edges)


Next, remove the fasteners by lifting the centers out first, then removing the body. I used to do this with a flathead screwdriver and a pair of pliers, but discovered that a plastic fastener removal tool is much quicker.


Slide the shield backward, and you'll be able to see the A/C condenser, intercooler, and radiator.


Take off the radiator cap. If the engine is hot, wait for it to cool down first.


The drain valve is located on the passenger side of the vehicle, to the side of the radiator. It will look like this:


Fit a hose over the barbed fitting, place a bucket underneath the hose, and open the valve. It should loosen by hand. You don't need to take the valve completely out, just loosen it enough to allow the coolant to start pouring. Make sure the hose is secure, and make sure it isn't kinked at the initial outlet.




Next is the flushing process. It is really up to you how many times you want to flush the cooling system. I did it 5 times because I had 4 gallons of distilled water and that allowed me to use it all up. The more times you flush the system, the more of the old coolant you are able to replace. The system holds 5.8 quarts of coolant for the 1.4L. Draining the system using the valve will drain almost exactly 3 quarts (give or take depending on how your vehicle is angled).

To flush the system:
1. Close the valve on the bottom of the radiator
2. Wait 15 minutes for the engine to cool a bit so you don't cause a thermal shock when adding the cold water.
3. Fill up the reservoir with water and keep filling until the level stabilizes, being sure not to go higher than the seam of the reservoir
4. Turn on the car and let it heat up to operating temp. The idea here is to get the engine hot enough to open the thermostat so you can mix what's in the radiator with what's in the rest of the engine.
5. Once you've reached operating temp, turn the car off.
6. Wait 5 minutes for any hot spots in the engine to the normalize.
7. Open the drain valve and allow the mixture to drain.
8. Repeat for as many flushes as you want to perform.

Here's how much of the old fluid you will have remaining after each flush:

Flush 1: 2.8 quarts (48%)
Flush 2: 1.4 quarts (24%)
Flush 3: 0.75 quarts (13%)
Flush 4: 0.39 quarts (7%)
Flush 5: 0.20 quarts (3.4%)

After the 5th flush, you'll have replaced ~96.5% of the old fluid.



Once you've performed all your flushes, you should have the radiator empty with the drain valve closed. Since the system holds 5.8 quarts of fluid and opening the valve only drains 3 quarts, you should have 2.8 quarts remaining. Proceed to refill the cooling system with 100% concentrate coolant. It should only take about 3 quarts to get you to the correct level on the reservoir. This will get you to an almost exact 50/50 mix ratio.

To bleed the system, there is a valve on the passenger top of the radiator facing the rear of the car. You can use a large flathead screwdriver or a 13mm socket to open this valve. Open it and allow air to escape. Once coolant starts flowing out of it, close the valve, being sure not to over-tighten it (it's plastic after all).



Screw the cap back onto the reservoir, and go out for a drive. Once you get back, check the level to make sure it is still good, and if it hasn't gone down too much, you're all set. The system will continue to "burp" air bubbles, so check on the level every now and then for the first couple of weeks and top off as needed.
Great tutorial. Thank you it will be very helpful
 

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that’s ok if you don’t know yourself, thanks for the explanation and reference to somewhere else! I’ll check it out
Realyl has nothing to do with whether or not I know the answer, but more with I hate typing and I answer the same questions hundreds of times. So when I can just redirect, I do.
 

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Whenever the car is running. The only part that doesn't circulate normally is what's sitting in the radiator waiting for the thermostat to open.
I checked my reservoir with a Dexcool compatible coolant tester and the fluid maxed the needle out. I think my coolant concentration is too high. When I did my flush several months ago I used a 50/50 mix though. Should I be worried?
 

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I checked my reservoir with a Dexcool compatible coolant tester and the fluid maxed the needle out. I think my coolant concentration is too high. When I did my flush several months ago I used a 50/50 mix though. Should I be worried?
Not familiar with the tester, it should tell you what that means tho. Is it saying you have too much coolant ratio to water? Share a pic
 

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I checked my reservoir with a Dexcool compatible coolant tester and the fluid maxed the needle out. I think my coolant concentration is too high. When I did my flush several months ago I used a 50/50 mix though. Should I be worried?
Look at the coolant level in your surge tank when the vehicle is at operating temp. It should be at the full line. If it is less, add distilled water for the best results, but regular water will work. If it is full or over full, after it has cooled off,, suck out what you can with a turkey baster and add the water then. That will bring the mixture closer to what you want. Having said that, if you know what the ratio of the mix is, assuming you or someone you knew added it, if it is less than 70/30, you should be fine.

Also do not mix Dexcool with other types of anti-freeze as it is very possible it will coagulate and plug the system. There are some that say they are compatible, but be wary.

Lastly, don't run pure antifreeze. As Maven said above, water is the best coolant. The antifreeze is just that, a way to keep the water from freezing with additives to help keep corrosion at bay.
 

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Not familiar with the tester, it should tell you what that means tho. Is it saying you have too much coolant ratio to water? Share a pic
It's just one of those Prestone ones that look like a turkey baster. It has the plastic floating arrow. It just floats to the maximum freezing temperature. I wasn't sure where it should be if it were a perfect 50/50 mix.
Look at the coolant level in your surge tank when the vehicle is at operating temp. It should be at the full line. If it is less, add distilled water for the best results, but regular water will work. If it is full or over full, after it has cooled off,, suck out what you can with a turkey baster and add the water then. That will bring the mixture closer to what you want. Having said that, if you know what the ratio of the mix is, assuming you or someone you knew added it, if it is less than 70/30, you should be fine.

Also do not mix Dexcool with other types of anti-freeze as it is very possible it will coagulate and plug the system. There are some that say they are compatible, but be wary.

Lastly, don't run pure antifreeze. As Maven said above, water is the best coolant. The antifreeze is just that, a way to keep the water from freezing with additives to help keep corrosion at bay.
It's at the full line when hot. I did the flush with Dexcool concentrate and distilled water and did a perfect 50/50 ratio. I was just not expecting it to show as good to -50 or more, I thought that was too much concentrate possibly.
 

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It's just one of those Prestone ones that look like a turkey baster. It has the plastic floating arrow. It just floats to the maximum freezing temperature. I wasn't sure where it should be if it were a perfect 50/50 mix.
It's at the full line when hot. I did the flush with Dexcool concentrate and distilled water and did a perfect 50/50 ratio. I was just not expecting it to show as good to -50 or more, I thought that was too much concentrate possibly.
You should be good to go as that would be what I would do.. You could go to Autozone and ask them to check it for you just to back you up.. They may have the Refractometer type tester, although I am not sure if it is compatible with Dexcool.
 

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Pretty easy so far. Used about a foot piece of 3/8" I.d. hose. And the prongs of an old plug in phone charger to get leverage on the pet **** head. For the radiator bleed screw I found a 25 cent quarter and vise script was the perfect fit.
 

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2012 1.8l mt.


Pretty easy so far. Used about a foot piece of 3/8" I.d. hose. And the prongs of an old plug in phone charger to get leverage on the pet **** head. For the radiator bleed screw I found a 25 cent quarter and vise script was the perfect fit.
I'll give you a dollar for a 24 cent quarter
 
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