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Old 03-02-2014, 05:02 PM   #1
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Coolant test strips - results??

Yesterday I tested the coolant with Luber-finer coolant test strips. The results confuse me a bit. The test strips show three things: PPM Nitrate, freeze point and pH. The PPM Nitrate indicates 1200. Under the 1200 is a note (Ideal) but there is a star next to 1200 that refers you to: "It is recommended to add a charge at this level if the vehicle will not be serviced for an extended period" Hum? If it is "Ideal" why would it need a charge? and what is a charge?

The freeze point is -10 and the pH is at 7.5. Is 7.5 OK? I've spent quite a bit of time on the internet today trying to get information and seem to not find much. Luber-finer doesn't have much narrative I can find.

I did flush the system and refill with CAT extended life coolant just over two years ago. I'm about 70 miles from the nearest CAT dealer so driving over to ask questions will not be for several days so wanted to get any ideas or suggestions or comments from this group.
Thanks in advance.
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Old 03-02-2014, 05:15 PM   #2
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I am told the best way to test our coolant is with a refractometer. The test strips do OK at measuring SCA's but a poor job of measuring freeze point.

Most any good big truck shop, fleet shop would have a refractometer. I had mine tested recently at a similar shop while they were checking/balancing my front tires.
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Old 03-02-2014, 10:04 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by 1ciderdog View Post
Yesterday I tested the coolant with Luber-finer coolant test strips. The results confuse me a bit. The test strips show three things: PPM Nitrate, freeze point and pH. The PPM Nitrate indicates 1200. Under the 1200 is a note (Ideal) but there is a star next to 1200 that refers you to: "It is recommended to add a charge at this level if the vehicle will not be serviced for an extended period" Hum? If it is "Ideal" why would it need a charge? and what is a charge?

The freeze point is -10 and the pH is at 7.5. Is 7.5 OK? I've spent quite a bit of time on the internet today trying to get information and seem to not find much. Luber-finer doesn't have much narrative I can find.

I did flush the system and refill with CAT extended life coolant just over two years ago. I'm about 70 miles from the nearest CAT dealer so driving over to ask questions will not be for several days so wanted to get any ideas or suggestions or comments from this group.
Thanks in advance.
Unless Caterpillar has reverted to their earlier formulation, they do not have 1200 PPM nitrite (not nitrate). Did you ever add liquid SCA before this? If this is Caterpillar ELC, they NEVER recommend adding SCA or using a coolant filter. Is your coolant strawberry red or is it pink? Judging from the pH, I will say it is ELC, even though you said it is. That would be about right on the pH. The freeze point measurement by test strip is frequently suspect. You could get the coolant tested at a Cummins dealer. They can test the freeze point with a refractometer. It should be around -34F for CAT ELC 50/50. Five degrees one way or the other is okay, too. They can also test your coolant with Fleetguard CC2602 test strips. ELC has both nitrite AND molybdate, thus your present test strips are not measuring the full inhibitor content.
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Old 03-07-2014, 04:30 PM   #4
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You are correct. A refractor is the best. But test strips have there place. If you have red or pink coolant it is probaly is long life or dexcool. You cant use a test strip and make it read correctly. The coolant is synthetic and has no dca. But if you have a Glycol based antifreeze (Green) you need to be using the strips. Cummins is real bad about dca. Well good luck with your project..
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Old 03-07-2014, 09:20 PM   #5
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You are correct. A refractor is the best. But test strips have there place. If you have red or pink coolant it is probaly is long life or dexcool. You cant use a test strip and make it read correctly. The coolant is synthetic and has no dca. But if you have a Glycol based antifreeze (Green) you need to be using the strips. Cummins is real bad about dca. Well good luck with your project..
You should read my many posts on coolant. You could learn that most of what you said is incorrect. For instance 'synthetic' coolant, do you mean OAT coolants? ALL engine coolants are glycol and water with inhibitors. You cannot trust that any coolant manufacturer used a specific dye to denote the inhibitor used, I.e. your comment about long life or dexcool. I spent 21 out of 23 years at Fleetguard as a coolant specialist/field service engineer. For your own benefit, spend some time learning the truth about coolant for diesel engines. It may save you a lot of money.
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Old 03-08-2014, 05:23 AM   #6
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Hey Spike45. I've followed your thread/ comments since I joined this forum. Your advice is always spot in. Sooo I need some advice. Recently purchased a 2003 Dutchstar with the 350 ISC. 62,000 miles, but still has original green coolant. Previous (one) owner stated the radiator was replaced less than a year ago, right before he traded up. The coolant tested ok according to shop, but I'd like to switch over to a long life coolant. Recommendations??
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Old 03-08-2014, 06:56 AM   #7
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I switched our Dynasty with an ISL over to an OAT coolant. No need for test strips that have a very short shelf life. There are 2 disadvantages to OAT coolants. If you are in the boonies and lose a coolant it my be hard to find. Some low coolant sensors do not like OAT . You may have to remove your sensor and clean it every so often. On our ISL the low coolant sensor does not trigger reduced power but in many Cats it will derate. I was able to buy a new sensor that supposedly is updated and can handle the OAT.
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Old 03-08-2014, 02:36 PM   #8
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I switched our Dynasty with an ISL over to an OAT coolant. No need for test strips that have a very short shelf life. There are 2 disadvantages to OAT coolants. If you are in the boonies and lose a coolant it my be hard to find. Some low coolant sensors do not like OAT . You may have to remove your sensor and clean it every so often. On our ISL the low coolant sensor does not trigger reduced power but in many Cats it will derate. I was able to buy a new sensor that supposedly is updated and can handle the OAT.
I'm having my ES Compleat PG replaced with ES Compleat OAT at Cummins in about a week. I plan to get an extra gallon or two for emergencies. I understand Final Charge is available at Tractor Supply, WalMart and Flying J.

I will ask them about the low coolant sensor.
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Old 03-08-2014, 06:07 PM   #9
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I started this post and with a little egg on my face realized the test strips I used were over four years old. Yesterday I tested with three more OLD strips and had very different readings so I need to find new test strips. The couple of places I have found sell them in containers of 25 and I certainly don't need that number of strips. I'll check the locals and see if any have a refractor - I'm pretty remote so who knows who'll have one. Thanks for the comments.
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Old 03-08-2014, 10:26 PM   #10
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Hey Spike45. I've followed your thread/ comments since I joined this forum. Your advice is always spot in. Sooo I need some advice. Recently purchased a 2003 Dutchstar with the 350 ISC. 62,000 miles, but still has original green coolant. Previous (one) owner stated the radiator was replaced less than a year ago, right before he traded up. The coolant tested ok according to shop, but I'd like to switch over to a long life coolant. Recommendations??
Use Final Charge. Easy to find, no SCA to add. Really do not need to test......just be be really sdure to not refill low levels with Dexcool. It looks similar but has zip for pitting protection.
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Old 03-09-2014, 02:31 PM   #11
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Sorry Gary, I was so wrong.. The first ting is i did go back and read some of your post on antifreeze. That was some good reading. It will help me understand the complex use of antifreeze. It is so darn confussing. When you work on trucks and cars in the same shop. Each manufractor wants you to use there products. Knowing the the truth helps. We have used all types of test strips Fleetguard, Wix, Penray and some outhers. We have always had problems getting good readings on the dca when the coolant is red or pink and even yellow. Thats somthing i just dont understand. We have found if you don't use the correct water filter it can be over charged. Well i really appreciate all the good info..
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Old 03-10-2014, 12:16 AM   #12
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Sorry Gary, I was so wrong.. The first ting is i did go back and read some of your post on antifreeze. That was some good reading. It will help me understand the complex use of antifreeze. It is so darn confussing. When you work on trucks and cars in the same shop. Each manufractor wants you to use there products. Knowing the the truth helps. We have used all types of test strips Fleetguard, Wix, Penray and some outhers. We have always had problems getting good readings on the dca when the coolant is red or pink and even yellow. Thats somthing i just dont understand. We have found if you don't use the correct water filter it can be over charged. Well i really appreciate all the good info..
Deuce,

Does your shop work on fleet cars and trucks in the same company? If so, you could use one coolant in both and stop the confusion. Use the HD coolant for everything. LD coolant is for gas engine cars and trucks. Cars will not consume the SCA if you use a conventional HD coolant like Fleet Charge, Fleetcool, Fleetguard ES Compleat or Fleetcool EX. Midrange and HD diesel will consume the SCA additive thus you have to periodically add a fresh dose, generally at each oil change.

Water filters with SCA tablets are sized according to the system capacity with the expectation that they will be changed at each engine builder specified service interval. Use of large WFs is okay but the change interval must be pushed out to prevent or reduce overcharging. The easiest coolant now for diesel is the second generation nitrite-free OAT coolants. Your choices are Shell Ultra (yellow) Chevron Delo Nitrite-Free, Final Charge (red) and Fleetguard ES Compleat OAT (red). Drain the old systems and flush with plain tap water. Refill with the new coolant. No testing, no water filter with chemical and much less hassle. Just be sure to use the same coolant to refill low levels with. For the service shop you spoke of, it is much more difficult to do this as the cost of conversion can be prohibitive. Never even think of using Dexcool in anything other than a GM vehicle and even then, it is a poorly inhibited coolant. It can never work in a diesel unless you have a mega dose of SCA in it.
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Old 03-14-2014, 03:27 PM   #13
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Yes we do. We work on every thing. We have a light side and a heavy side. We just have to many diffrent typs of equipment. One thinfg that makes it so confussing is you have tec's go to manufature classes and when they get back you are doing it all wrong.... Let me start at the beginning. I have been a truck tec for over 20 years. More on the thero king side. But now i work for a goverment shop. Great job jut alot of diffrent equipment. I worked on fire trucks and garbage trucks. I understand them. But in the last few years i have been promoted 2 times. Needless to say alot more resposability. I work alot with the parts room now. Trying to get the correct parts for all typs of equipment. One of my proects is coolant. How we buy it and best protection on everything. I really appreciate all the info you have given me. It helps me professionally and personally. Thanks again, Eric
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Old 03-16-2014, 02:44 PM   #14
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I started this post and with a little egg on my face realized the test strips I used were over four years old. Yesterday I tested with three more OLD strips and had very different readings so I need to find new test strips. The couple of places I have found sell them in containers of 25 and I certainly don't need that number of strips. I'll check the locals and see if any have a refractor - I'm pretty remote so who knows who'll have one. Thanks for the comments.
Good luck trying to find current test strips. The closest I've ever been able to get was expired 2 months previously.

I guess there isn't a great demand for the strips and they sit on the shelf for years.

Best Regards!
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