CAR DOCTOR Q&A: How Long Does “Long Life Coolant” Last?

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Maintenance intervals have stretched double, triple and longer in the last decade, but how long exactly does “Super Long Life” coolant last in a Toyota Highlander?

Q. My 2008 Toyota Highlander was in for some routine service and the advisor recommended that I replace the coolant. When I got home I was reading the owner’s manual and it referenced Toyota Super Long Life coolant. Does this coolant/antifreeze last the life of the car and is this the only kind I can use? I thought I remember reading about permanent antifreeze is there such a thing?

clean coolant

A. You can find the exact service intervals for the 2008 Highlander coolant here, at Toyota’s online maintenance schedule for the Highlander. Toyota recommends replacement of engine coolant at 100,000 miles, then at 50,000 mile intervals thereafter.

The coolant in your Toyota does not last forever and will deteriorate through a combination of age and contamination. Clean coolant not only protects your vehicle’s engine from freezing in the winter and overheating in the summer but also acts as a lubricant and corrosion inhibitor.

Toyota also recommends that coolant level and condition should be checked at least every year or 15,000 miles. The level should also be checked during oil changes.

Regarding “permanent” antifreeze, years’ ago to prevent the water that cools an engine from freezing, alcohol was added. That alcohol evaporated rather quickly and needed to be check regularly. Then early antifreeze was developed that had a one or two year life and compared to adding alcohol was considered permanent. Today there are many different types and formula coolants. In some cases they can be substituted for one another and sometimes not.

Toyota states that in order to avoid technical problems, only use “Toyota Super Long Life Coolant” or similar high quality ethylene glycol based non-silicate, non-amine, non-nitrite, and non-borate coolant with long-life hybrid organic acid technology.

Good luck trying to find that, in my opinion it is just easier and safer to buy the Toyota specified product and change it every five years or so.