How Long Does Coolant Last In A Car? (Explained!)

The engine of your car provides power to it, and as a result, your engine will tend to get very hot. This is why you need a coolant. So now, we will learn about how long a coolant lasts in your vehicle, so let us get started.

So how long does a coolant last in your car? Your coolant can last for about two hundred ten thousand kilometers (210,000 km) or about one hundred forty thousand miles (140,000 miles), so you have to change them when you reach these marks so that you can ensure that your vehicle’s engine is in its best and optimum performance.

When it comes to the fluids in your vehicle, there are a lot of fluids that you need to check and constantly maintain over time. All these fluids are not meant to last forever. That is why you need to change them as often as necessary. 

One of those fluids is the coolant. Your engine is capable of being very hot because of the heat. And that is why your engine needs protection against that extreme heat. 

This is where the car coolant will appear. The car coolant or also called antifreeze is the one that protects your engine so that it will not overheat. In addition, if your car is running, the coolant will provide lubrication on the moving parts of your engine. 

So with that, we will discuss the lifespan of coolants and how often you should change them. Here we go.

How Long Does Coolant Last In A Car

Do Cars Lose Coolant Over Time?

It is not likely that your car will lose coolant over time. Of course, you will lose coolant if you leak, but in terms of the life of the coolant, they will degrade over time, which is why they must be replaced. Let us further discuss the life of a coolant. 

So a coolant is made with water and antifreeze. Coolant has many properties that offer good performance as long as additives help sustain good performance. As time goes by, your coolant will degrade. 

This is because the fluid will then be more acidic over time. So you will now have a degraded fluid that is in bad condition, and you expect it to provide protection and offer your vehicle a good performance. This deteriorated liquid can now harm your engine because the coolant will no longer maintain and keep your engine from overheating. 

This is why your coolant must be changed as often as necessary. So over time, you do not necessarily lose your coolant unless you leak, but you have got to change your coolant for about two hundred ten thousand kilometers (210,000 km) or about one hundred forty thousand miles (140,000 miles). So if you want a time, you must change it for about a year or even earlier than that.

How Often Should I Put Coolant In My Car?

If you consulted some mechanics, most recommend changing your coolant for about thirty thousand miles. Some mechanics will even answer you that they do not know and are not on their level of expertise. The rule is to always look for your owner’s manual. 

Your owner’s manual will be able to give you a guide on how often you should change your coolant if you have read your owner’s manual. For example, you might be recommended to change your coolant or your antifreeze after sixty thousand miles (60,000 miles)/ some vehicles would even be required to change their coolant or antifreeze for about thirty thousand miles (30,000 miles). 

With this, it is a conclusion that every vehicle has a different time interval of changing their coolant or their antifreeze. Some vehicles can even last their coolant about one hundred twenty thousand miles (120,000 miles) and more. So if you still have not read your owner’s manual, it is best for you to do it and not follow advice from other people, especially if you have different cars because every car has its different time interval in changing their coolant.

Why Does My Car Run Out Of Coolant So Fast?

You might be experiencing a coolant leak. The coolant is a crucial fluid that your vehicle needs. If you don’t have coolant in your vehicle, the components of your vehicle will be at risk of overheating because there is nothing that is regulating their temperature.

The overheating will damage your engine, and as a result, it will cost you an expense because you will have to repair the damage. If you have parked your vehicle and you saw that there is a coolant on the ground where your vehicle has just parked, or you might be noticing that you are replacing your coolant fluid with just a short period, then you have a pretty good chance of leaking. The coolant system works by circulating your vehicle’s engine. 

This means that the leaks can be anywhere. If you know what to do, you can always consult an expert and get the leak repaired. You can also check your oil. 

If you noticed that your oil is already a bit milky, then you might have a head gasket that is blown. You have to immediately stop driving your car and then repair the issue right away. 

If you also suspect that you have some oil leaks, you can also check by yourself before consulting an expert. First, look for signs of a leak in your vehicle. One clue you should be looking at is that the leaks will leave evidence, especially on the floor.

Finding the evidence can also be relatively easy because you can spot the coolant. The color of the coolant is pretty visible. They are primarily green in color. 

You can also find them in yellow color. Look for the ground for any leaks and take a look around your radiator and your engine too. The leaks can leave a stain. 

If you have found some leaks on the ground, follow where the leak is in your vehicle and try to fix the leak. If you cannot fix the issue, then you can consult an expert for the repair. But try to notice first if white smoke is coming out of your exhaust because if you did, you do have a blown head gasket.

how fast you run out of coolant in your car

What Are The Signs Of Low Coolant?

If you suspect that you have a low coolant, you can look for signs if you have a low coolant. Your engine can overheat when it is running, and you have no coolant or antifreeze. The coolant or antifreeze works by traveling around your vehicle’s engine. 

They will regulate and maintain the temperature in your engine. As a result, you will not have to worry about your engine overheating. Now, if you want to know if you are running low in coolant, some vehicles have the feature of an automatic engine cut-off. 

But, some vehicles are not capable of this feature. So with that, you will then have to look for warning signs that your coolant is getting low. So here are some of the signs you should look for if you suspect that your vehicle is running low in the coolant.

1. Your Engine Might Cut Off On Its Own

If you are running low on coolant, some vehicles would automatically cut off the engine. This feature is beneficial. However, only a few vehicles have this feature. 

This feature works by shutting off your engine if they notice that your engine is heating up. For example, if you have a low coolant, your engine will likely overheat. Suppose your vehicle senses that your engine is overheating and your vehicle has this feature. 

In that case, your vehicle will automatically shut off the engine to prevent your car from overheating and damaging your engine. However, if the engine cools down again, it will also start to activate your vehicle again.

2. There Will Be A Warning Light On Your Dashboard

If you suspect that you have a low coolant or antifreeze, your vehicle may have the feature of warning you. The warning will be through a notification on your dashboard. 

For example, you may have a dashboard warning light telling you that your coolant is running low, and you will need to add it up. Unfortunately, not every vehicle has this feature.

3. You Can Smell Something Sweet

If you have tried smelling your coolant, you will know that it has a slightly sweet smell. So if your vehicle is running low on coolant because it is leaking, you will get that sweet smell.

4. Your Vehicle Has A Bad Fuel Economy

If your vehicle has an average temperature, your fuel economy will do good. Your fuel will be used efficiently. 

So if you will notice that your vehicle is burning fuel a lot quicker than it usually has, you might have a low coolant. Your engine might have an abnormal temperature, which makes your vehicle burn more fuel than necessary.

5. There Is A Dysfunction In Your Heating System

If you have a low coolant, there can be a dysfunction in your heating system. Observe and notice if your heater is blowing hot air or your heater is not working at all. Automatically, that means there is something wrong with your coolant.

6. Your Gauge Might Have Increasing Temperature

The objective of the coolant is to keep your engine from overheating. So if your coolant/antifreeze is running low, your engine will be at risk of overheating because your coolant is not enough to regulate the heat. 

With that, there may be a rising temperature in your gauge. If there is an increasing temperature in your gauge, then your coolant is not working.

How Long Can I Drive With A Low Coolant Level?

If your coolant is low, it will depend on how low your coolant is to determine how long you can still drive your car. If you suspect that you have a low coolant, you must check the level of your coolant. So if your coolant is still above the minimum mark, then you can still start and run your car for about a few more days. 

However, if your coolant is already below the minimum mark, you must add up some coolant. Do not drive your car if your coolant is below the minimum; it will cause damages to your vehicle.


In summary, if your car is running, there are many moving parts, and these moving parts create heat and friction in your engine. With that, the coolant or antifreeze provides help and protection for your engine and prevents it from overheating.  

So it is essential to always maintain a reasonable amount and quality of coolant. Like any other fluid, you need to change your coolant.

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Image credits – Canva

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My name is Hank, and I've been in the automotive industry for 27 years. I've been working in my own auto repair shop for the last 13 years, and now I want to help you here, on my blog. Let me know if you have any questions. Read more