Coolant filter packs have been around for quite some time now. Initially, they were manufactured for construction/industrial vehicles. These days, they’re also available to regular drivers that want to protect their engines from contaminants. What does a coolant filter look like, though? How does it actually work? Is it worth all the fuss, or not? And how long does it last?
These are the most popular questions for folks that are just getting into this stuff. So, if you’re thinking about buying a filter for the antifreeze, but aren’t 100% sure it will be the right purchase, my guide is for you! First, we’ll talk about this product in general and how it works. Next, we’ll check out the average prices and then figure out how often you should change the filter. Let’s roll!
The Basics: What does a Coolant Filter Do?
So, how does a coolant filter work? It works much like any other filter. If you’re familiar with the cooling system, I bet you know about cold air intake kits. They also have filters, and they’re mostly crafted from cotton-gauze media, non-woven synthetic, or other sturdy and reliable materials. The same can be said about coolant filters. When you buy a kit, you get two hoses that go into the radiator line and the heater core line.
These hoses are connected through a filter block that’s mounted on the engine bay. As for the actual filter, it sits below the block and, well, filters out the coolant. Once you secure the hoses and the coolant starts to flow through the kit, all the tiny particles inside of it are trapped by the filter. That is how filters operate. They let the liquid flow while serving as a “brick wall” against sludge, deposits, dust, debris, pollen, and whatnot.
Over time, the filter itself gets clogged, though, as the contaminants accumulate inside of it and significantly worsen the efficiency. That’s exactly why it’s important to know how often the filter needs to be changed. Otherwise, an “outdated” kit will do more harm than good, making you believe that the coolant is squeaky clean when in reality, it actually isn’t. We’ll talk more about that further down this guide.
Is It Really Worth the Price?
Ok, now we know how this product works. The next thing to figure out: are coolant filters worth it, or not? Should you spend your time, energy, and money on buying and installing pme? Or maybe you should stick with regular coolant changes? Coolant filters are, most definitely, worth your trouble. First of all, if you change the antifreeze once in 3-5K miles, that will cost you big bucks. Secondly, that might not even guarantee you a “victory” over the sludge.
Contaminants have a way of hiding inside of the pipes and mixing with the new coolant. With a filter, however, it will be much easier to deal with the deposits, sand, metal shavings, and everything else that builds up inside of the system over time. Filters have been through numerous tough tests and have proven their worth. They significantly prolong the engine’s lifespan, saving you big bucks in the long run and ensuring optimal performance.
On average, they cost +/- $100 but can help you avoid a rather costly repair. The oil cooler, radiator, tanks, and hoses get clogged with time. That leads to possible engine overheating, which is bad news. So, to answer the question, yes, coolant filters are a very wise investment. Plus, they take little time to install (30-60 minutes) and look pretty cool, with all the tubes, valves and mounting properly installed.
How Long Does it Last?
Finally, let’s find the answer to the most important question – how long do coolant filters last before a change is due? Now, this can be a bit tricky, so let me explain it in detail. According to official recommendations, the first filter should be changed before you hit the 500 miles threshold. The reason: it will trap most of the contaminants; if you keep on driving for thousands of miles on that one filter, it can actually have a negative effect.
As for the second filter, it can go on for up to 3K miles, or even a bit longer. The third unit usually lasts for +/- 5K miles. Next, the fourth and all the consecutive filters should protect the coolant for a full year. The Best Coolant Filter Kit will go on for 8-10K miles, or more. My advice to you: make a habit of constantly checking on the filters. This shouldn’t be hard: just remove it from the block, open the “lid”, and empty it into a canister that you can utilize later.
If you see brown liquid and tiny particles, that means it’s time for a replacement. And if the liquid is mostly clean, go ahead and put the filter back. This is important: sometimes, to fully assess the situation, you might have to cut the filter open. Only do this with the first filter once you reach that 500 miles limit, because it will, most likely, be clogged. If you ask me, after that, I’d say change the filter every 5-7K miles, as you would do with the oil. That works for most cars.