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Old 01-26-2014, 12:18 PM   #1
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Coolant life/change question

I have wanted to do a flush and fill with new coolant since my coach is now offically 7 years old (38K miles). When I had the coach at the local Cummins Atlantic center, they checked the SCA's (test strip) and said it checked fine.

Also, there is a lime green tag attached to the expansion tank with the following written:

12/20/11
Mil 28,215
RO# 49483
AF@ -15
DCA @ ext. life

What I wonder is if this is a tag placed by a service center just to show the coolant was checked two years ago or that it was replaced (the coach would have been 5 years old). I am not able to reach the PO and have a service appointment next week for other work and wanted to have them do the coolant flush and fill.

I have the light green stuff.

Is there a better test than strips that could determine the condition of the coolant?
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Old 01-26-2014, 10:19 PM   #2
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Changing your coolant

Judging from the label information the coolant is some type of extended life coolant, perhaps Fleetguard ES Compleat (that is the correct spelling). The coolant solution is not 50/50 as the freeze point is only -15F. It is more like 40 glycol/60 water.

Otherwise, I would have recommended keeping this coolant as 38,000 miles for diesel coolant is nothing. A 50/50 solution will yield -34F.

You state that you have 'light green coolant'. What coolant? What spec does the container label state that it meets? This is very important.

As for testing, you can test your coolant with Fleetguard CC2602 test strips. They do come as a single test strip with reference card (CC2602B) or four pack with reference card (CC2602A). The SCA raange for a Cummins engine should test in the range of 2.0+ units per gallon. Ignore the reference card where the 'green' zone says that it is okay at 1.2 units per gallon.

How many gallons is your total system capacity? Bet your MH manufacturer or chassis people are not sure either.

You do not need to flush your system unless you find a coolant filter that has something trapped in the filter media. Cummins did not sell the engine to the chassis builder with a coolant filter head. The chassis people may have put one on. No filter? Is there any evidence of rusty color in the coolant? Any slight evidence of oil? Since you did not mention any coolant issues, I expect that you can just drain the system. Knowing the coolant capacity and how much you got out of it will help me determine how much your coolant may be diluted from 50/50. The best and easiest method is to take half of the system capacity from the spec and put that amount of antifreeze concentrate precharged with an SCA. As an example, your coolant capacity is 15 gallons total. Put in 8 gallons of concentrate and fill the rest with water. You will end up with a freeze point slightly lower than -34F and that is fine.

You will need to add additional SCA as a liquid additive to precharge the remaining old coolant in the system. The best starting point is to shoot for 2.5 units per gallon, Cummins recommended level.

If you can get the total system capacity and I can tell you how much to drain and add back as concentrate to get the system back to 50/50. Then you add the required amount of liquid additive. I can tell you that as well.

Let me know.
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Old 01-27-2014, 08:30 AM   #3
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Gary, thanks for the info. I will see if I can get the coolant capacity info from Country Coach.

There is a sticker in the engine bay indicating the coolant is/was Fleetguard ES Compleat. There is no coolant filter on the coach.

When I pulled a sample for the Cummins folks to test for me, it looked perfectly clean with no evidence of rust, oil or otherwise. However, in the little sight glass on the expansion tank, I can see some little black specks stuck to the glass. Not sure that is significant.

Does the test strip test for freeze point or just SCA level?

If I do drain and refill, I had planned to use the OAT long life stuff.....Final Charge or equivalent.
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Old 01-27-2014, 06:23 PM   #4
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Gary, according to the owner's manual for my coach, my total coolant capacity is 26 gallons. This is what they state in the manual:

'Mix of 50% propylene glycol antifreeze and water, must be a low silicate formula. An additional 1.5 units/gal of SCA is added.'
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Old 01-27-2014, 10:24 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by smlranger View Post
Gary, according to the owner's manual for my coach, my total coolant capacity is 26 gallons. This is what they state in the manual:

'Mix of 50% propylene glycol antifreeze and water, must be a low silicate formula. An additional 1.5 units/gal of SCA is added.'
Now that I know that it is PG coolant, it is very likely that the freeze point was incorrectly measured. If the place that filled the system last and put the sticker on, it may well be that they used a plain hydrometer which cannot function correctly with PG coolants. PG coolants require a special hydrometer. We had one in service engineering. It was iffy at best. The best method for measuring the freeze point is to use a refractometer. Your Cummins distributor (not truck dealer) should have one. They can measure your freeze point using the PG scale. A 50/50 PG coolant has a freeze point of -27F, not -34F as in EG 50/50.

That being said, at this point I do not think you need to change the coolant. With 38,000 miles your coolant has the same life as what would be found in an 18 wheel truck that has only used the that coolant for a little over a month! I seriously doubt you need to change coolant. The CC2602 test strips can measure the freeze point approximately. In my extensive experience with them, I was never impressed with that feature....and I was on the development team. Your DCA4 level should be in the range of 2.5 units per gallon new and with these low miles, not likely to be much less. Did you use liquid DCA4 as a service dose at any time since new? For 26 gallons you would be using two pints of DCA60L or equivalent from other manufacturers.

Let me know what the freeze point tests at when you go to Cummins. Other truck shops may have a refractometer. Be sure they have the kind that can be easily calibrated with an external screw adjustment. The red refractometers do not have an easy calibration.

If you still desire to change to Final Charge, use the premix product and keep some on hand to refill low levels. NEVER use Dexcool to refill low levels of Final Charge. I can assure you that you will learn how expensive it is to replace the liners. I am not at liberty to tell you what major municipal truck fleet found this out for their ISL powered garbage trucks. They used Dexcool because it was the same color.
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Old 01-28-2014, 08:27 AM   #6
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'Did you use liquid DCA4 as a service dose at any time since new? For 26 gallons you would be using two pints of DCA60L or equivalent from other manufacturers. '

Gary, I just got this coach last April so I have added nothing to the coolant. Cummins Atlantic tested the coolant with a test strip and only added a bottle of Zerex stop leak since there was some thinking (from my first oil sample that showed some elevation of K and Na) that I might have an EGR cooler leak. Subsequent oil sample was fine.

Since you recommend I not change the coolant now and just get it properly freeze tested, are you saying I should add DCA?

Thanks, again.
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Old 01-28-2014, 08:36 AM   #7
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How often should the coolant filter be changed on an RV? I have the ISC & use Alliance ALA003 coolant.
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Old 01-28-2014, 11:26 PM   #8
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'Did you use liquid DCA4 as a service dose at any time since new? For 26 gallons you would be using two pints of DCA60L or equivalent from other manufacturers. '

Gary, I just got this coach last April so I have added nothing to the coolant. Cummins Atlantic tested the coolant with a test strip and only added a bottle of Zerex stop leak since there was some thinking (from my first oil sample that showed some elevation of K and Na) that I might have an EGR cooler leak. Subsequent oil sample was fine.

Since you recommend I not change the coolant now and just get it properly freeze tested, are you saying I should add DCA?

Thanks, again.
It depends on the test strip reading for units per gallon of DCA4. If you are near 2.5 units per gallon, no. If you are less than, yes. If you are over 3.0, no.
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Old 01-28-2014, 11:38 PM   #9
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How often should the coolant filter be changed on an RV? I have the ISC & use Alliance ALA003 coolant.
If you are using the Alliance coolant, I am guessing it is hot pink in color. That would be Old World Fleet Charge. That does require changing the coolant filter. Cummins O&M guide calls for changing at each Cummins specified oil change interval, not yours. What is the system capacity of your MH? For each 12 gallons of capacity, Cummins recommends 4 units DCA4 or equivalent. My guess is that you are larger than 12 gallons. The service intervals are based on engines that see a lot of miles so typically, you will see a service at around 20,000 miles. If you use your change interval which it seems that most MH owners change oil far sooner than Cummins requires, changing the coolant filter with chemical will lead to overcharging the system. Some overcharge of up to 4 units per gallon measured with Fleetguard test strip method, is not any big issue. Use of the Fleetguard CC2602A or B test strips with reference card will show that if you test at over 3.0 units per gallon, do NOT add any more nor change the coolant filter with chemical.

I used to not make the following recommendation but times change and so did my thinking: Next time drain the coolant and use one of the new nitrite-free OAT coolants that do not need regular coolant filter maintenance, do not need testing, etc.

Your choices are Shell Ultra, Chevron Delo Nitrite-Free, Final Charge, and Fleetguard ES Compleat OAT. Of these, Final Charge is the easiest to find at truck stops and some HD parts stores. These all use some extender that you add at 300,000 miles not any sooner.

Sorry for the long answer. That is one of my weak points......giving you the history of measuring time when all you wanted to know is what time it is!
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Old 01-29-2014, 06:36 AM   #10
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Thanks Gary, your timing is perfect. It's a good time to change to OAT as I am replacing all of the coolant hoses today and haven't gotten the coolant yet.
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Old 02-03-2014, 01:47 PM   #11
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Final Charge coolant service life

Spike 45,
I have a 2007 ISM, purchased in June 2006, which now has 52,000 total miles. Recently, I found out that Final Charge Extender should have been added after 3 years and the Final charge replaced at 6 years. Now that it has been 71/2 years, should I add the extender and keep on driving or change out the Final Charge?
Thanks, Al Mers
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Old 02-03-2014, 11:03 PM   #12
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Spike 45,
I have a 2007 ISM, purchased in June 2006, which now has 52,000 total miles. Recently, I found out that Final Charge Extender should have been added after 3 years and the Final charge replaced at 6 years. Now that it has been 71/2 years, should I add the extender and keep on driving or change out the Final Charge?
Thanks, Al Mers
Al,

At 52,000 miles that coolant is still in its original condition. Final Charge extender added at 3 years means 300,000 miles. The service schedule for this coolant is based on what an 18 wheel truck will do in 3 years. Forget the additive and run it til the wheels fall off. Bet you decide to dump it in anyway! Won't hurt and won't do more than it does when new.
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Old 02-05-2014, 03:56 PM   #13
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Spike, I already have the extender, should I use it or hang on to it for later use?
Thanks for your expertise.
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Old 02-06-2014, 02:50 PM   #14
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Spike, I already have the extender, should I use it or hang on to it for later use?
Thanks for your expertise.
Al,

All chemical products have a shelf life. I would bet that the life of the extender is 3 years but could be as much as 5. It is composed of organic inhibitor acids in a water base. There is a remote chance that a precipitate will form. Just warm it up and shake well then put it in. Adding it now should not be an issue.
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