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Two Gallons – Three Containers

May 10, 2022

Last weekend I replaced the thermostat in my lovely wife’s car. (I Wasn’t Sure That Was Going To Work.) When you replace the thermostat, (it looks like this, BTW)

You have to drain out most of the radiator coolant. The Yukon my lovely wife drives takes 18 quarts of antifreeze. That’s four and a half gallons. I didn’t have to replace all of it, but I certainly needed to replace several gallons.

Antifreeze comes in two flavors and two strengths. The two flavors are green and orange. Generally Japanese cars take green antifreeze. American cars typically take orange. Those are BROAD generalizations. Not every car follows that rule. But, if you are replacing, or even topping off the anti freeze, you should check and figure out which flavor your car needs. It’s not a good idea to mix them.

The Yukon takes orange antifreeze.

The two strengths are “diluted” and ‘full strength.’ If you buy the diluted strength you can immediately add it to your car. It costs about $14 per gallon. If you get full strength, you have to dilute it. Literally you cut it 50/50 with water. And not just ANY water. Tap water is TERRIBLE for your radiator. There’s minerals in tap water that will clog up your radiator.

So, I had a gallon of full strength orange antifreeze and a gallon of distilled water. I also had an empty antifreeze container.

Question: How to ensure they are evenly mixed?

The question would have been easy if the antifreeze containers had a spot on the side to show how full they are. Some antifreeze containers have that. And all containers of oil have it. Unfortunately mine did not.

I could guess, right? I pour “about” half the antifreeze into the empty container and then top it off with water. But, I’m not going to be exact. Chances are 50/50 that I’ll put too much antifreeze in one container and then realize it when I go to fill it up with water. I would be stuck at that point. I would have diluted antifreeze that I couldn’t correct.

I suppose I could have poured the water into the empty container, then poured half the antifreeze into the opaque water jug.

I came up with a different solution that didn’t involve quite so much pouring back and forth.

I poured slightly less than half of the antifreeze into the empty container. Then, I poured exactly half the water into that same container. I then “topped off” that container with antifreeze. Since I knew there was exactly a half gallon of water and the container was a one gallon container, I didn’t have to measure the antifreeze. I just had to make sure there was less than half a gallon when started.

It’s not quite the riddle from Die Hard. But, I felt pretty pleased. (And the car no longer was overheating, so that was a bonus.)

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

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