Engine Coolant Level

Hi there,

Last week I purchased a new Suzuki Swift and I have a newbie maintenance question since this is my first car. I understand that you should check your coolant level weekly or bi-weekly. If the coolant jug is low on coolant either you can add water or coolant. Questions I have is these

  1. How often does the coolant drop down in a new vehicle and need to be top up? I know my dad had an old corolla and he used to fill up the coolant jug on a weekly basis
  2. Is it okay to add water only or should I add coolant? I know many people who just add water only


The coolant level shouldn’t drop unless the cooling system has a leak.

So on a new vehicle it shouldn’t be expected.

When adding coolant, you add a 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and distilled water.

You can purchase pre-mixed coolant just about anywhere where other automotive products are sold.


Just looking at the overflow tank once a month on a new car should be sufficient . More important is checking oil level at least every other fill up of fuel. Is this a USA purchase ? I ask because Suzuki has pulled out of the US market. Also the last few new cars we have bought the service manager gave a complete rundown of features and things to be aware of. If they didn’t you could request they show you what you should pay attention to.

Thanks! Any idea normally how often does the coolant level drop and how much in a new car?

If you live in the USA, I assume this is a used car and new to you. You should check coolant now and dad 50/50 mix if it is low. Then check weekly until you have a good idea how fast it drops level. Then you can check less frequently if the level doesn’t drop weekly. Do it first thing in the morning when the engine is cold and the coolant system has had time to equalize.

Thanks but it is my first new car purchased from Mexico so just wanted to understand the routine maintenance checkup.

There is very little evaporation loss with modem coolant, between 4 and 8 ounces per year.

Not meaning to be rude but the manual that came with the car will give you almost all you need to know and be correct. Are you saying you bought the car in Mexico and brought it back to the US ?

Are you saying you bought the car in Mexico and brought it back to the US ?
I was under the impression that wasn't legal with a car <25 years old.

Maybe he lives in Mexico.

Thanks guys and yes I live in Mexico.

Others might disagree but we always have service done at the dealer we bought the new car from so that records will be on file showing what was done and when. After the warranty expires we might just use a service elsewhere.

" I know many people who just add water only"

Since those people clearly know less about car maintenance than “a newbie”, I urge you to ignore their very bad advice.

What most people refer to as anti-freeze is actually a substance that serves two purposes–in addition to preventing freeze-up of the cooling system, it also raises the boiling point of the fluid in the cooling system so that overheating can be prevented.

So…one should only use water in place of the correct 50/50 antifreeze/coolant mix if he is eager to see what happens when the engine overheats. (Hint: It’s not good, and the extensive damage wouldn’t be covered by warranty)

Well I’ve added about 2 cups of coolant to my three year old Acura and I’ve added about the same to my 09 Pontiac in the years I’ve had it. One cup before the coolant was changed and one cup about a month after. So really, you buy a gallon of the proper coolant from the dealer and that should last quite a few years if you don’t develop a problem.

My early 90’s Corolla requires a top off of about a cup of coolant every 12 months. I presume it is lost to evaporation out the plastic tank air vent.

Always add at least a 50/50 mixture of coolant and water. For the water, most folks here seem to prefer distilled water, rather than tap water. Before purchasing an aftermarket coolant, check out the price for OEM coolant at the Suzuki dealership, often the price is as good as the aftermarket brands.

Except in an emergency, never add plain water. This applies even if you live in a warm climate where it never freezes. The coolant has several functions, freeze protection is just one of them. Lubrication and anti-corrosion protection are two important functions also. A dose of the proper coolant is a lot cheaper than replacing the head gasket.

I would not buy any coolant at this point, not sure what kind of coolant is in it but if you need some make sure it is compatible. Checking oil is important, as well as coolant but most places around me top off fluids and tell you if they were needed during routine oil changes

I’ve always gotten the routine maintenance on my new cars done by the dealer too, just in case I had a problem.

I agree with Nevada. a few ounces a year is all you should ever need.
HOWEVER; you yourself should be checking ALL your fluids routinely. As the car ages, this habit will prevent small problems from becoming huge problems.

For a few ounces a year, distilled water (available at the grocery store for about $1/gallon) is fine. You should get the cooling system drained and refilled (I recommend against chemical flushes) every five year anyway, and then only the manufacturer recommended coolant should be used and mixed only with distilled water in a ratio as recommended on the bottle. Distilled water has a shelf life of about a million years, so the bottle will probably last you until you’re old and gray… like me.

Know too that the coolant reservoir bottle will have two level lines molded into it; on “hot” and one “cold”. The reason is that the coolant expands as it gets hot, and it’ll take up more room. Use the correct line. I had to mark my lines with a Magic Marker because they were so hard to see.