How to check your car's coolant levels

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

It’s not actually water in your engine, but coolant. 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. 

Checking the level is important as it can prevent problems such as your engine overheating and your vehicle breaking down. Thankfully, checking the level is an easy job to do. 

First and foremost, 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. It's also a good idea to consult your owner's manual at this point as it can guide you through the specifics of your vehicle.

Generally, 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.

To check the levels, lift your car’s bonnet, and be sure that it’s secured. Then locate your coolant reservoir, and make sure that the water level is between the minimum and maximum levels.

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. NRMA Members get discounts at Repco so make sure you check to see if you can find the best price. 

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 mobile mechanic can do it for you.

Worried about the possibility of breaking down?

NRMA Roadside Assistance gives you peace of mind while on the road.