Proper Disposal of Engine Coolant: A Guide
Coolant is a vital component for the safe operation of the internal combustion engine. Such engines produce a lot of heat due to the ignition of the air/fuel mixture.
Coolant circulates through the engine block carrying heat from the hot engine and transferring it to the radiator.
The radiator has air vents that cool the coolant, which is re-circulated to the engine. This continuous process of the coolant moving from the radiator to the engine helps keep your engine from overheating.
The reason people do not use water but prefer coolant for their engines is that the coolant will not freeze during extremely cold winters or evaporate when outside temperatures are very high.
What is Engine coolant?
Coolant is made from a mixture of ethylene glycol and distilled water. Some people simply refer to it as anti-freeze. You pour the contents of the coolant through a reservoir on the radiator. The coolant is vital for engine heat dissipation.
The challenge with internal combustion engines is that almost half of the fuel burned is mostly converted into heat. Most of this heat will find itself through the tailpipe as exhaust gases, but some of the heat remains within the engine. If the engine becomes too hot, then it hinders its smooth operation.
The coolant transfers this heat from the hot engine to the radiator where it is cooled off. This circulation helps keep your engine operating at optimal temperatures.
If your engine overheats, you may experience significant damage, resulting in an engine overhaul.
Most people call the coolant anti-freeze because it retains its properties even under extreme cold conditions. Unlike normal water that will solidify into ice, coolant will continue flowing through the engine.
You should not use normal water for such conditions as it can freeze in the engine block causing further damage to your engine. The pressure produced when water turns into ice in the engine block can destroy your cylinder heads, crack the engine block or destroy other delicate engine components. Most coolants are green, pink, or orange in color.
When to dispose of your coolant
Coolant does not have an infinite lifespan. It will lose its properties through a process known as electrolysis. When this happens, your coolant acquires acidic properties and becomes useless.
This is the right time to dispose of it. If you do not flush it out, it will corrode your engine parts. Also, note that coolant is poisonous and should not be swallowed. Do not flush the expired coolant into the environment as it will contaminate the ecosystem.
When to dispose of the anti-freeze will largely depend on the type of coolant. Most of the anti-freeze compounds in the market require flushing after every 30,000 to 60,000 miles. You need to practice safe coolant disposal to protect the environment.
How to dispose coolant appropriately
Once you have noticed that you are approaching the recommended change mileage for your anti-freeze, the next step is to check your coolant for signs of acidity or loss in anti-freeze properties. You can purchase an anti-freeze tester to test the coolant.
Operating it is simple, insert it into the coolant reservoir and get the readings. The tester records whether the coolant still operates under extremely cold weather conditions and doesn’t freeze. When testing the coolant ensure that your engine is switched off.
The coolant is normally a bright color; if you notice that it has darkened or there is a thin layer of oil on it then it is time to change your coolant. The coolant has a sweet smell if you discover that it is odorless or has a strong smell then it is time to change it.
Do not flush out coolant down the drain
It is tempting to pour out the contents of the coolant down your drain, but since the coolant has toxic compounds, this will cause further harm to the environment.
Most of the coolants have ethylene glycol or propylene glycol. These toxic compounds are known to cause birth defects and various reproductive problems to pets and humans. Due to its sweet nature, coolant can be tempting to swallow for pets.
Hazardous waste recycling
The coolant should be disposed of in the same way as gasoline. You should talk to your local authorities to identify the right disposal center. These centers have safe disposal methods for recycling of toxic waste.
You can check for their contacts online. When transferring the coolant for disposal ensure you have a pair of gloves and a mask to not inhale the toxic compounds.
If you accidentally spill the coolant on the floor, use baking soda to brush off the substance. You can then cover the area with paper towels to absorb the liquid. Wait for around an hour before washing off the area with soapy water.
Draining the coolant from radiator
When you are ready to dispose of your coolant, you will need to position your car on high ground. Wear gloves and a mask when removing coolant from the radiator. You should wait until the engine cools before removing the coolant from the radiator.
Disconnect your battery so that you do not have any circuitry problems. Place a drain valve underneath your car and position them for draining. Once the anti-freeze has filled the pan, you can reconnect the valves back to their original position.
When transporting the coolant to the disposal center, ensure the container is properly sealed. Place it in your truck with cables to prevent accidental spills.
You must label the containers to prevent accidental usage of the anti-freeze compound. You mustn't attempt to recycle your anti-freeze when it is contaminated with gas or oil.
Disposal of the coolant is a procedure you can do at home but if you find the task burdensome and laden with risks you may want to drive your car to an auto shop. Most mechanics offer safe anti-freeze flushing and disposal. You can do this for every 50,000 miles, but your car manual should be your guide.
You may find yourself replacing your anti-freeze sooner if you are experiencing leaks. One of the first symptoms of leaking coolant is that you find a colorful liquid beneath your car hood. This is later followed by a rise in engine temperature. If not replaced immediately you will have an overheating engine.
The coolant plays a vital role in keeping your engine cool. It flows through pipes connected to your engine and radiator. The combustion process produces a lot of heat. Some of this heat is passed on to the tail pipe with some remaining in the engine block.
The coolant will remove the engine block's heat and cool it in the radiator. You can identify the coolant by its bright color. Motorists use coolant instead of water because it has a low freezing point. Unlike water which solidifies when exposed to cold temperatures, the coolant will maintain its viscosity and properties no matter the temperature.
The coolant has harmful compounds hence the need to dispose of it safely. It should not be flushed out down the drain. Identify safe chemical disposal centers during flushing.