Saturday, May 16, 2015

What to Do if Your VW Overheats and You Don’t Have Access to G12 Antifreeze/Coolant

DISCLAIMER: I am by no means a mechanic.  This post is composed of information I have gathered by listening to people who know more about cars than I do.  If something you read here causes you to break your car, it’s not my fault (my lawyer cousin taught me that it’s better to be safe than sorry when trying to help people).

There are many “proprietary” things about VW/Audi that make them a pain in the a** (don’t get me wrong, I love my VW).  One of them is the kind of antifreeze they require.

G12 Antifreeze for Volkswagon
G12 Antifreeze is orange like this.
My 2004 Passat Wagon takes G12.  It is orange, and its chemical makeup is entirely different than the regular “green stuff” found in most cars.

When you’re on the road and your coolant leaks (most often a slow leak from a loose hose connected to your reservoir) to the point of triggering your car’s warning lights, you might feel stranded and helpless.

Sure, you could put the “regular antifreeze” they stock at gas stations in your car, but it’s a bad idea for many reasons.  A few years back this happened to us and we put regular antifreeze in the car to get us home.  However, immediately upon arriving I had the coolant system flushed and the fluid restored to pure G12 (well, G12 diluted with water).

Had I known then what I know now, I could have saved us the time and expense of having the coolant system flushed and refilled (which you should actually do every couple years anyway).

This is how low the coolant was when our Passat screamed “Danger!”
If your coolant is low, and you are on the road in the middle of nowhere, all you need to find is distilled water.  Tap water can work (better than green antifreeze), but it contains minerals and impurities that will cause scaling and other problems.

When the dealer or your mechanic puts G12 in your coolant system, they are adding a G12 concentrate.  They actually mix the G12 with water (usually 50/50).  This means adding distilled water (especially in the small quantity that you likely need to get your reservoir back up to the “max” line) is no big deal at all!

In fact, the G12 actually keeps your coolant from freezing.  Water is 4x better at cooling your engine than G12, so the water part is what’s actually doing the cooling anyway!

So… if you’re stranded somewhere with no auto parts store, just add distilled water!

This is your coolant reservoir.  Notice it states “G12” clearly on top.  This is where you pour the distilled water/G12 coolant.

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