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How to Check Your Antifreeze Strength

Wondering how to check your Antifreeze Strength?

Antifreeze (coolant) circulates through the engine to keep it at its ideal running temperature. It’s water-based. The problem is that if it’s pure water, it freezes at 0C or 32F, and it will literally crack your engine. Yes, freezing water is stronger than iron or aluminum metal.

Thus we have antifreeze. It drastically reduces the temperature at which water freezes, so that we don’t have to buy new engines every year.

But because antifreeze can lose its strength for a variety of reasons, it’s a good idea to check the temperature at which your Volvo’s antifreeze, well, freezes. This Volvo Repair Database post tells you how to do that. Hint: it costs less than $5 and takes less than 5 minutes.

1. Buy an antifreeze tester at your local auto parts store. They are $5 or less.

testing antifreeze protection temperature
2. Suck some antifreeze into it from your coolant expansion tank under the hood of your Volvo.

testing antifreeze protection temperature
3. Read the result (where the pointer points) and determine if the winter temperatures in your area dip below that number. Squirt the coolant back into the reservoir tank and remember to put the cap back on it.

If it gets colder than your coolant is good for, you need to add antifreeze without over-filling, or flush all of it and start over. Follow the owners’ manual recommendation on type and concentration. Modern engines are very sensitive to the brand of coolant you add to them, and the concentration vs. water. Never run all coolant or all water. It’s always a blend of the two.

As I mentioned, consult your owners’ manual or ask here in the Volvo Forums.

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Mike Graf says:

Does this work if you use a non standard kind of antifreeze? F22 or the all mix kind etc?

Called local NAPA store – they have another brand that’s compatible to Volvo. Can I use that antifreeze to add to what’s always in the car? Car is a 2003 V70.

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