Is Your Anti-Freeze Prepared For Frigid Weather?

With temperatures expected to dip into the mid-to-low 20's by Friday morning, now is the time for drivers in Houston to make sure their cars are prepared to handle the frigid weather. And, as David Pitman reports, just because the radiator "looks" full, that doesn't mean the anti-freeze in it is up to snuff.

Some of the additives that make anti-freeze work lose their effectiveness over time.  Mechanic Glenn Young is the owner of Young's Automotive Center near Reliant stadium.  He says regular testing is required to make sure the anti-freeze hasn't broken down.. and if it has, it needs to be emptied and replaced with a new 50-50 mix with water.  Also, Young says drivers have to make sure they are using the right 'kind' of anti-freeze.

"Almost all the manufacturers today have a very specific anti-freeze for their specific vehicle.  So it's not just run down, buy you a jug of anti-freeze and pour it in.  You have to make sure that you know which anti-freeze goes in your vehicle."

Another container under the hood Young says drivers can't ignore is the windshield washer reservoir, which requires its own special fluid.

"And you don't want to put anti-freeze in there for a cooling system.  You want to put actual windshield washer fluid in there that's good for low temperatures."

Young says even if it gets as cold as forecasters say it will, he's not expecting to see a lot of split radiators or cracked engine blocks.  He says the best protection is a garage, but drivers who have to leave their cars out in the cold can help protect them by wrapping their radiators with an old blanket.

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David Pitman

Local Host, Morning Edition

The one question David hears most often isn't "What is it like to work for an NPR member station?" or "Have you ever met Terry Gross?" (he has)...