When It’s Cold, Consumers Might Add The Wrong Coolant

This article was originally published on Counterman.com.

In colder weather, it’s fairly common for a consumer to add the wrong kind of coolant to their vehicle. While experienced technicians know there are different types of coolant, the average person doesn’t.

How To Explain Coolant Issues To Customers

A customer who’s added the wrong coolant to their vehicle needs to understand why this is a problem, and why they need a coolant flush. Service advisors or technicians should explain the two major problems: overheating or staying too cold.


Tell the customer that when an engine overheats, it causes three big issues:

  • Excessive wear and tear on the components inside the engine
  • Bad internal combustion timing (meaning reduced engine performance)
  • Coolant leaks (also a sign of a bad water pump)

When the engine is too cold, the following issues can arise:

  • Difficulty heating up the engine
  • Reduced fuel economy
  • Reduced performance

Customers also need to understand that if one type of coolant is mixed with another, the mixture sludges up, making it difficult to run through the engine. This causes the engine to overheat quickly.

Additionally, problems can arise from using the right coolant, too. Even if the customer adds the right coolant to their car, they often fail to mix it properly and/or overfill the system.

What Happens To A Car Running On The Wrong Coolant?

In addition to the risk of engine issues from overheating or staying to cold, using the incorrect coolant can cause water pump damage. The wrong coolant won’t properly protect the mechanical seals in the water pump, making it easier for particles to get in and corrode the seals. This will cause the water pump to leak and need to be replaced.

Questions to Ask Customers

It’s important for customers to understand how critical it is to have the right coolant in their engine. Service advisors and techs should get in the habit of asking the following questions:

  • When’s the last time your cooling system was serviced?
  • What type of coolant is in your car right now?
  • Have you experienced any of the symptoms of water pump damage?

This is also a good opportunity for shops to educate customers about the importance of maintaining their cooling system and how using the right coolant is the first step.


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