Mechanic didn't replace coolant per recommended maintenance - is that okay?

I recently took my car in for its 60k mile service. Part of the service was replacing the engine coolant, which the manual says should be replaced every 30k miles. The mechanic didn’t do the coolant change because the old coolant looked so green and new he didn’t see any point. Is it legitimate to delay changing coolant based on color?

PS: I’ve never had a mechanic turn down work/payment before.

It’s particularly important with Subarus to do it every 30k, so your mechanic was wrong. By the time the coolant looks ‘bad’, it’s too late, damage has begun. Is this a Subaru-specific mechanic? He should know better.

This also makes me concerned that he would put the correct coolant in if he did change it. There are lots of choices, it needs to be as specified by Subaru.


Change the coolant, and consider changing your mechanic.
This guy may also wind up telling you that your timing belt looks okay, rather than changing it as per the mfr’s specified schedule, and that could wind up being a very costly exercise in saving money.

If you maintain a car better than the mfr specifies, you only risk spending a little more money in the long run.
On the other hand, if you skimp on maintenance, you will wind up spending a HUGE additional amount of money in the long run.

Thanks. I don’t know about different categories of coolant. Other than asking for Subaru-recommended coolant, what should I ask about coolant to make sure the right kind is used?

PS: scheduled coolant change with a different mechanic

what should I ask about coolant to make sure the right kind is used?

Open the owner's manual and it will be listed there.

Check your owners manual for the correct type. I went to the expense of buying it from Subaru, it’s that important to me.

I would also buy the Subaru coolant conditioner additive (less than $4) and add it when I do the coolant change. I have done so with my 2003 Subaru from day one, and have had no head gasket issues at 135K miles. Don’t know if it is because of the conditioner, but it is low cost protection, so far.

Is this your regular mechanic who has done all previous work? What is the history on the engines coolant.

This is my first time at this mechanic/any mechanic in my current city. The only history on the engine coolant is the 30k mile service at a dealership.

Sometimes a mechanic trying to save you a few $$$ can give bad advice. I had a timing belt change at 96K miles and I asked about putting new radiator hoses on the car at that time, it is an '03 Civic. The mechanic said he’d change them if they looked questionable. He put the old original ones back on and I just found a pinhole leak in the top hose at 103K miles 4 months later.

A few bucks saved last Sept. just cost me more to replace in January because now I had to pay labor and replace the coolant again. I would let the coolant go until your next oil change and get new coolant then. I use Honda brand coolant in my Civic just to be sure. You can buy Subaru coolant yourself and have your mechanic refill it using the coolant you provided. That way you know you have the correct coolant in the car.

Even if he had tested the coolant for its ability to protect against freezing, it would STILL not be legitimate to delay changing coolant. One of the components in coolant is a corrosion inhibitor which becomes depleated over time, and its depletion cannot be seen.

I recommend having the coolany changed. If you do it yourself, just be sure you have the correct coolant, even if you have to buy it from a Subie dealer, and be sure you purge the system of air. Post back if you decide to do it yourself and we’ll ooffer specific suggestions.

I went to the dealership to buy coolant and additive. Scheduled an appointment at a different mechanic for the coolant change next week.

You asked for his expert opinion and you got it. Then 4 months later you had a pinhole leak. Was it his fault? No. You incurred a labor cost. Still not his fault. See below.

On my planet we replace our own hoses and coolant.