How to check your car's coolant levels

Checking water in your car
  • Prevent costly damage by checking your car’s coolant levels
  • Check your coolant level every time you refue
  • Never remove the radiator cap when the engine is hot

Checking your car’s engine coolant level regularly is important. By keeping the coolant topped up, you'll avoid problems such as your engine overheating and your vehicle breaking down

It’s not actually water in your engine, but coolant, and checking the level is easy, but before you inspect your car’s cooling system you must ensure the engine is cool. Let it sit for a few hours after driving before you remove the radiator cap, otherwise hot coolant can spray out, causing burns.

Coolant, which is often green or red, contains chemicals that stop the liquid from freezing in sub-zero climates and prevents corrosion damage inside the engine.

Low and high markings on the side of the plastic overflow bottle connected to the cooling system tell you if there is enough coolant in the engine – the coolant level should be between the two marks. The overflow bottle usually has a brightly coloured cap and is connected to the radiator at the front of the car.

Need help? Book a car service

A few minutes checking under the bonnet could save you a lot of hassle and expense. Or, if you’re not confident doing it yourself, your local NRMA car servicing store or mobile mechanic can do it for you.

These checks are also part of a routine car service, so a regular trip to the mechanic will bring peace of mind that your engine is healthy and your car is safe.

If the level is low, check the owner’s manual for the correct type of coolant to use and the right way to top up the level for your car.