Whether or not you consider Global Warming to be a hoax or the gospel, one thing is indisputable—it gets hot in the summer. While air-cooled motorcycles have it tough, engines that are liquid-cooled still need attending to in order to avoid overheating. Figuratively, coolant is the lifeblood of your cooling system.
We grilled Bryan Emrich, President of Engine Ice Hi-Performance Coolant, on what it takes to keep engine temps under control on your on- or off-road motorcycle when the sun is blazing, whether you’re racing or riding for pleasure.
Ultimate Motorcycling: How often should coolant be changed?
Bryan Emrich: The best practice is to change the coolant at least once each season or multiple times per season for even better results and more consistent performance, especially when you are using your ride on a regular basis. Fresh fluid is the best fluid in any powersports application, so proper maintenance of the coolant system is essential for maximum performance and peace of mind. This recommendation is based upon the high-performance characteristics of Engine Ice Hi-Performance Coolant and applies to all types of bikes.
In a service department scenario, the recommended action is to flush and change the coolant at the same time as an oil change. This method serves two purposes. One, since the technician is already disassembling the machine for an oil change, there is not much additional time associated with the coolant change and flush and, two, it allows the end user to use the oil change timing to remember to change their coolant.
UM: Why does coolant need to be changed?
BE: Maintenance is less expensive than repair. Coolant tends to be one of the more overlooked fluids in a motorcycle. Neglecting your coolant can make a big impact on your bike’s performance and the life of its components. It’s not just antifreeze, which is a misnomer, for coolant because it does so much more than prevent freezing. It also prevents corrosion, raises the boiling point to temperatures higher than that of distilled water, and more.
By correctly maintaining your motorcycle’s coolant system with the right product in the proper timeline, you’ll be able to have peace of mind that your machine will perform at its optimum level whenever you ride it. Engines are developed to run within a specific temperature range and the cooling system is what is responsible for maintaining that optimal temperature which will also help to extend the life of the engine components. A properly maintained cooling system lasts longer and will lead to fewer overall breakdowns.
UM: Do I need to flush the system every time I change the coolant?
BE: In short, yes. It is highly recommended that any time you change your coolant, you should also flush the system. Water corrodes your system from the inside, as harmful impurities and contaminants can cause scaling and other forms of corrosion within the walls of the hoses, radiator, and water pump.
Over time, coolant can become contaminated, and additives can wear out. Corrosion often leads to the production of sludge, which, if left in the system, builds up and can cause rusting and, ultimately, leaks in the system. Scaling is the deposit formed on the inside of surfaces when the water is heated and impurities precipitate or settle out. These deposits can build up and interfere with heat transfer or, in extreme cases, cause cooling system and engine failure. Flushing the system as directed by the manufacturer is the best way to ensure your new coolant performs at its best and provides dependable results.
UM: Can you mix coolants?
BE: Generally, it is not recommended to mix coolants. It is always best to top off with the same coolant or add a little distilled or reverse osmosis-purified water to maintain the proper level. With different types of glycols, water and additive technologies, the risk of cross-contamination or an adverse reaction in the solution is very high. When you are unsure, the best action is to drain and flush the system and replace it with fresh coolant.
UM: Are additives a good idea?
BE: Additional additives are also not recommended. Mixing products can lead to congealing, which can drastically reduce or even stop the flow of coolant.
UM: Give us your pitch for Engine Ice Hi-Performance Coolant.
BE: Propylene glycol-based coolants like Engine Ice Hi-Performance Coolant are chosen for their performance and environmental safety. That base formula helps provide boil-over protection to 254 degrees Fahrenheit and freeze protection to -7 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, the propylene glycol formula is considerably less toxic than ethylene glycol found in many other coolants used in most engines. Engine Ice Hi-Performance Coolant’s propylene glycol base, combined with its additive packages that offer superior corrosion and wear protection and reverse osmosis-purified water, produces a superior coolant that maximizes performance and is environmentally friendly.