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Can't find my manual... what colour radiator coolant for a 98 Ford Ka?

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    Pretty much what it says on the tin. Can't find my manual or seem to find the info online, anyone know what colour radiator fluid I'm meant to use on a Ford Ka? It's a 98 reg
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    (Original post by zigzog7)
    just use water, it doesnt really matter.
    Incorrect!

    1) don't "just use water" - in the winter the water in the cooling system can freeze which will result in, at best, loss of a core plug or a hose. Or, at worse, a cracked block!
    Also, on engines where the block is made from aluminium, the antifreeze will encorporate a corrosion inhibitor which prevents the water passageways from corroding.

    2) You cannot mix antifreeze types - they have different corrosion inhibitors. If you do decide to mix you'll end up with a muddy sludge instead of coolant.

    I wish people would actually get their facts right before they offer stupid incorrect advice on this forum... :rolleyes:
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    I might not know what colour fluid I need but I do know that it does matter and that you don't just use water!

    I fully understand the importance of using coolant/anti-freeze, I just don't know what colour. Having looked at my car I seem to have nothing in there so I can't even see what colour was in there before. Though I looked at a petrol station at night, so maybe I'll see in the morning.

    So does anyone actually know what colour I'm meant to use?
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    (Original post by JC.)
    Incorrect!

    1) don't "just use water" - in the winter the water in the cooling system can freeze which will result in, at best, loss of a core plug or a hose. Or, at worse, a cracked block!
    Also, on engines where the block is made from aluminium, the antifreeze will encorporate a corrosion inhibitor which prevents the water passageways from corroding.

    2) You cannot mix antifreeze types - they have different corrosion inhibitors. If you do decide to mix you'll end up with a muddy sludge instead of coolant.

    I wish people would actually get their facts right before they offer stupid incorrect advice on this forum... :rolleyes:
    oh yeh, forgot winter was coming up.

    OP, JC has better advice than me, I know i always use blue antifreeze in winter, but dont know what you should use.
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    Give the top hose a squeeze, hopefully you'll be able to squeeze a bit back into the expansion tank so you can see.

    The more pressing issue is where the coolant has gone. It's a sealed system, so it should all be there. Might be worth taking it to a garage, having the system flushed and refilled with the long life stuff. Whilst you're at it get them to check all your hoses to make sure there isn't a slow leak, do a system pressure test to make sure the head gasket hasn't popped and have a new filler cap fitted as a matter of course. A weak cap can allow the system to vent to atmosphere. I've just changed the filler cap on my MGB for that exact same reason.

    -JC.
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    Err you don't want just water in the summer either, you don't know much about radiator fluid do you? lol

    I'm gonna add a bit of water in the morning and should lift up the fluid enough to see what colour it is. The reservoir is empty (or seemed to be) but there is definitely still fluid in the system.
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    Caroline, Ford recommends not mixing colours (i.e. when topping up).

    As zigzog said, for small top-ups it's OK to use water - but don't do it all the time, because if you dilute the antifreeze too much over time, come winter (and if we have one like last year) you could be in a bit of a mess. Also, the car is supposed to have antifreeze in it all the time, and by diluting too much you won't have.

    However, you should know what colour you need from what's in there at the moment. My guess is that it is pink/orange as it is in my Focus.

    If you have it drained, you can use any colour.

    You can buy it from any motor store (i.e. Halfords).
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    (Original post by JC.)
    Give the top hose a squeeze, hopefully you'll be able to squeeze a bit back into the expansion tank so you can see.

    The more pressing issue is where the coolant has gone. It's a sealed system, so it should all be there. Might be worth taking it to a garage, having the system flushed and refilled with the long life stuff. Whilst you're at it get them to check all your hoses to make sure there isn't a slow leak, do a system pressure test to make sure the head gasket hasn't popped and have a new filler cap fitted as a matter of course. A weak cap can allow the system to vent to atmosphere. I've just changed the filler cap on my MGB for that exact same reason.

    -JC.
    Yeah, that was my thinking. I've had radiator issues with a previous car so understand the system pretty well. The thing is though, stupidly since I bought this car a few months ago I've checked everything but the radiator fluid! It'll always need topping up a bit occasionally, so could well be that whoever had it before never did it. I don't know. My brother in law is a mechanic so I can get him to have a look when I next go there, I just can't call him at this time asking what colour fluid I need!
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    (Original post by DOAADI)
    Caroline, Ford recommends not mixing colours (i.e. when topping up).

    As zigzog said, for small top-ups it's OK to use water - but don't do it all the time, because if you dilute the antifreeze too much over time, come winter (and if we have one like last year) you could be in a bit of a mess. Also, the car is supposed to have antifreeze in it all the time, and by diluting too much you won't have.

    However, you should know what colour you need from what's in there at the moment. My guess is that it is pink/orange as it is in my Focus.

    If you have it drained, you can use any colour.

    You can buy it from any motor store (i.e. Halfords).
    Ah see, that's what I was wondering. I didn't know if it needed a specific colour or if it just needed the same colour that was already in there. I've drained my old radiator so I can probably do it alright again, though I'd probably just get my dad to do it as it'll be easier that way for me!

    I'm going to have a look in the morning, see if I can see any. If not, give the pipe a squeeze, see if I can see the colour then. If not, add a glass of water and see then. And then I'll top up with the coolant, I've only got blue from my old car so I'll probably need to buy some.

    Thanks for all the help guys.
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    (Original post by DOAADI)
    Caroline, Ford recommends not mixing colours (i.e. when topping up).

    As zigzog said, for small top-ups it's OK to use water - but don't do it all the time, because if you dilute the antifreeze too much over time, come winter (and if we have one like last year) you could be in a bit of a mess. Also, the car is supposed to have antifreeze in it all the time, and by diluting too much you won't have.

    However, you should know what colour you need from what's in there at the moment. My guess is that it is pink/orange as it is in my Focus.

    If you have it drained, you can use any colour.

    You can buy it from any motor store (i.e. Halfords).

    No it isn't "OK" to use water. You said yourself it dilutes the antifreeze.
    Far better to mix up a litre of antifreeze and keep it in the boot of the car and top up with that.
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    (Original post by JC.)
    No it isn't "OK" to use water. You said yourself it dilutes the antifreeze.
    Far better to mix up a litre of antifreeze and keep it in the boot of the car and top up with that.
    I agree about keeping a bottle of antifreeze - but it IS perfectly ok to top up with water if it is small amounts. Antifreeze is 50:50 usually, and the capacity of the coolant system is such that a few hundred mls of water isn't going to hurt anything. Definitely.

    I said quite clearly that you shouldn't go too far with it. Caroline knows what she's doing so it's up to her.
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    (Original post by DOAADI)
    I agree about keeping a bottle of antifreeze - but it IS perfectly ok to top up with water if it is small amounts. Antifreeze is 50:50 usually, and the capacity of the coolant system is such that a few hundred mls of water isn't going to hurt anything. Definitely.

    I said quite clearly that you shouldn't go too far with it. Caroline knows what she's doing so it's up to her.
    Trouble is you put in 100ml a week after a year there's no antifreeze is there? Always top up with your own bottle of premix.
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    (Original post by JC.)
    Trouble is you put in 100ml a week after a year there's no antifreeze is there? Always top up with your own bottle of premix.
    I don't think anyone was saying that, if you are putting in 100ml a week you have a bigger issue than diluting the antifreeze!

    If you top up 200ml every 6 months then topping up with water is fine.
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    Agreed. As I say - and I suppose you can add "and unless you are losing loads of coolant" - topping up once every few months with a couple of hundred mls of water is easily going to get you between services.
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    (Original post by gbduo)
    I don't think anyone was saying that, if you are putting in 100ml a week you have a bigger issue than diluting the antifreeze!

    If you top up 200ml every 6 months then topping up with water is fine.
    Well, you pair do it your way and I'll do it propperly. :rolleyes:
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    Or we could all just carry on doing it our own totally acceptable and safe ways
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    (Original post by DOAADI)
    Or we could all just carry on doing it our own totally acceptable and safe ways
    Sounds good. If anyones cooling system breaks, please tell us
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    (Original post by DOAADI)
    Agreed. As I say - and I suppose you can add "and unless you are losing loads of coolant" - topping up once every few months with a couple of hundred mls of water is easily going to get you between services.
    Do you not understand how that logic is totally flawed?
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    (Original post by FXX)
    Do you not understand how that logic is totally flawed?
    I do but a little water will be fine until you find out what antifreeze to use. But yes, if you keep topping up with just water then you will eventually dilute it so much it does not stop it from freezing.

    I also remembered why I said water in the first place, my brain wasnt working properly and I was thinking of the windscreen wash :P. Even so, I know the cooland is blue on my car, and orange on the old Isuzu trooper we have which isnt allowed anywhere near a road.
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    Only to those with a pedantic bent, FXX

    Look. It is OK to top up with water as long as the antifreeze dilution doesn't fall below a certain level. Yes, it makes sense to use a suitable mixture, but water would be fine for a simple top up.

    In my own case, my car is serviced professionally every 12,500 miles, and in my case topping up with water once, maybe twice in the 2-3 months it takes me to rack that up - using a total of maybe half a litre of water (absolute max) - doesn't cause any problems.

    To someone who does their own servicing, keeping tabs on how much they've added would be just as simple. Since they probably take 10 times longer to do the same miles I do, if they are having to top up too often then it points to a problem which takes everything down a whole different route (possible head gasket for example).

    Ford dealers and service agents usually check to make sure the antifreeze concentration is within an acceptable range. It doesn't have to be 50.0000000% - it can be anywhere inside a certain range.

    The capacity of the coolant system is around 6 litres from what I remember. That would be 3L of antifreeze if it were exactly 50%. A half litre of water would only take it down to about 40%.

    If Ford says that that will do damage, then I stand to be corrected, but it isn't likely

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Updated: August 28, 2011
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