How to Put Coolant in a Car

by Lindsay Maddox
Girl repair car on road image by Vasyl Dudenko from

Part of owning a car is maintaining it so it continues to run. Whether you're adding coolant as a proactive measure to avoid engine troubles, or you have found your car overheating due to lack of adequate coolant, putting coolant in a car is a fairly straightforward task. Using safety precautions and the right tools, you'll be able to change the coolant in your car with little effort.

Step 1

Open your car's hood and prop it safely open. If the engine is still hot, leave the hood open for several hours to allow the engine to cool down before attempting to add coolant.

Step 2

Examine the hood's contents, paying close attention to the front of the car where you'll find the radiator. Locate the coolant, also called the antifreeze, reservoir. It is usually a white container with a metal or black screw-on lid, located near the radiator. Put on safety goggles and gloves to avoid injury.

Step 3

Use a rag to turn the lid counter clockwise slowly to unscrew it, allowing air to escape a little at a time. Though you may be tempted to unscrew the lid quickly, resist the urge as the coolant can bubble up and badly burn you.

Step 4

Locate the line near the top of the reservoir that indicates the maximum liquid level. Place a funnel inside the reservoir and slowly add coolant until the liquid reaches the "max" line.

Step 5

Place the cap back on the coolant reservoir and firmly tighten it by turning it clockwise.

Close your hood and restart your engine. You have now successfully put coolant in your car. If you still encounter issues with your car overheating, have it checked by a mechanic. It could be your temperature gauge, head gasket, radiator or another serious problem.


  • Refer to your car's owner's manual before attempting to put coolant in it. The manual may have tips for your specific car on how to add coolant.
  • Do not attempt to add coolant when the engine is still hot. Wait until it has cooled considerably to avoid injury.
  • In a pinch, water can be added to the coolant reservoir during hot months. Avoid adding water in winter months, however, as it will freeze and cause damage.


  • Never stand directly over the reservoir when adding coolant, as the liquid may be hot and could cause injury.
  • Avoid breathing in the gasses that emit from the coolant reservoir.
  • Clean any spilled coolant off of the ground. It is highly toxic and deadly to animals who are likely to consume it.
  • Store coolant up high and out of reach of children and pets.

Items you will need

  • Safety goggles
  • Safety gloves
  • Rag or towel
  • Heavy-duty funnel
  • Coolant (also known as antifreeze)

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