Coolant is a vital part of what makes an engine work smoothly. It prevents your engine from freezing in winter and overheating in summer. Like most chemicals, coolant can become acidic over time and this can lead to overheating and even engine damage.
Knowing when to replace and how to get rid of used coolants is not always clear. Fortunately, this guide will give you a better understanding.
How Can I Dispose of My Coolant?
Coolant is made from ethylene glycol – a toxic chemical- that makes it inappropriate and even illegal to be poured down the sewer, drain, toilet, or in the trash can.
Getting rid of Coolant is not hard but you need to understand your engine and know the laws guiding hazardous waste and recycling in your area. Follow these steps to dispose of your coolant efficiently:
1. Check the quantity and quality of your coolant to see whether it needs to be discharged and replaced.
The radiator contains the coolant. To begin, park your car in a flat area and allow it to cool entirely. Remove the radiator cover and check inside to ensure the fluid has reached the top – or the “full” indication.
Even if the radiator has adequate coolant, you should inspect it to see if it needs to be replaced. The coolant can be colorless or colored red, blue, or orange, but it must be bright and clear regardless of color.
Check the quality using an antifreeze tester (available at Amazon) that includes instructions on how to interpret the readings. Stick the tube into the coolant, press the bulb to suck in some liquid, then check the gauge to see what the antifreeze’s lowest temperature protection is.
2. Remove the contaminated coolant from the radiator.
When emptying your radiator and replacing coolant, always use protective gear such as gloves, masks, and goggles. Park in a flat place and allow the engine to cool down sufficiently to remove the old coolant.
Before you empty your radiator, detach the battery connector to be sure that no electrical harm occurs. Place a drain pan under the drain valve and use pliers to open it. Before locking the valve again, let the liquid coolant drain entirely into the pan.
Fill a sealable plastic bottle halfway with an old coolant. To find out how much new coolant is needed, or what mix of coolant and water you need to pour into the recovery tank, see your car’s owner’s handbook or reach out to the manufacturer.
3. Quickly and thoroughly clean up.
Even an ultra-careful mechanic has a spill now and then. Because coolant is a hazardous substance, you must instantly soak up any spilled liquid. To help absorb as much of the grease as possible, baking soda, use sand or kitty litter.
After that, completely cover the place with paper towels and leave it there for a few hours. To wipe all of the spilled coolants, use extra paper towels and place them in a sealable plastic rubbish bag. This bag may be dumped in any outdoor garbage can provided that it is far from the reach of kids and animals.
Finally, scrape the stain with a scouring pad or brush after spraying liquid soap over the affected area. Wash with warm water and allow it to dry. You can use a towel to make it dry faster.
4. Locate a hazardous waste disposal or recycling center.
Coolant disposal and recycling rules may be found on your region’s Department of Waste Management website. Find a local recycling or disposal center and contact to learn how to keep used coolant contained and documented.
Coolant that has been polluted with oil or gas is deemed contaminated and cannot be recycled. In this case, visit the website and look up toxic chemical disposal.
You may also seek assistance with used coolant disposal from your local recycling center, mechanics, and automobile businesses. The Recycling Locator from Earth 911 is a useful searchable database.
To locate recycling centers in your region, simply click “antifreeze” and enter your zip code. Authorized landfills will take old, non-polluted coolant; inquire about the tank for used coolant disposal at your local dump.
It is vital to note that chemicals are not the only hazardous waste. Electronics are also items you should throw in a regular trash can or dumpsite. If you plan to get rid of an old microwave, you might want to see How to Dispose of Microwave.
5. Keep the sealed bottles secure and deliver them securely.
Use sealed plastic jugs to transport old coolant. Ensure the containers are properly placed on the trunk floor or rear seat and if required, use a bungee to hold them in place.
Label each bottle with the date you replaced your coolant, the brand, and the chemical composition (if known). Ethylene glycol and Propylene glycol are the major ingredients in antifreeze, and each has a slightly varying amount of toxicity.
If your coolant has been polluted with oil or gas, attach a note of the chemicals (if any) that contaminated it. Only pure, old coolant can be recycled; coolant with traces of oil or gas must be dumped at a hazardous waste disposal site.
How to Refill Your Radiator
Refilling Your Radiator
If the recovery tank is entirely empty, you’ll have to fill the radiator with a mixture of coolant and water.
- Allow your car to cool down for at least 30 minutes (sometimes longer) before touching the radiator pipe.
- Open the radiator cap, inspect the rubber seal to ensure it is in excellent working condition, and pour the mixture into the radiator neck.
- Reinstall the radiator cap and fill the recovery tank with coolant to the cold level.
Why is Coolant Hazardous?
Coolant is harmful because it includes glycol, a substance that is deadly to people and animals alike. Antifreeze comes in two varieties, each with its own level of toxicity:
Ethylene Glycol Coolant: Of the two forms of coolants frequently sold today, this is by far the most dangerous. It includes ethylene glycol, a substance that can harm the brain, kidneys, lungs, and liver if consumed. If left untreated, this might lead to organ failure or death.
Ethylene glycol can potentially affect the reproductive system and cause birth abnormalities as well. To make matters worse, this sort of coolant has a pleasant odor and flavor that dogs and small children may find alluring.
Propylene Glycol Coolant: This type of coolant replaces the ethylene glycol component of antifreeze with a separate component known as propylene glycol. Propylene glycol is less toxic than ethylene glycol, but it must still be handled with caution. If consumed in high numbers, it can be harmful.
How Coolant is Recycled?
Engine coolant is recycled using technology that removes fuel, metals, and oil from the fluid. Chemicals are also applied to prevent ethylene glycol from degrading.
Although there are a variety of ways to recycle motor coolant, many experts choose vacuum distillation. This includes utilizing a vacuum to suck the coolant into a drum. To remove the water, the motor coolant is boiled.
The water is then heated to a higher temperature in order for it to vaporize. After that, experts add ion exchange resins to the coolant. The coolant is separated from the pollutants by these positively charged ions.
We have also put together a few articles to help you dispose of car components properly, you might want to see How to Dispose of Motor Oil.