F-350 Coolant Additive Question

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F-350 Coolant Additive Question

Postby watkinsk » Fri Aug 28, 2015 6:29 pm

About 3 weeks ago I got a warning message on my dash saying Check Coolant Additive. Per the manual, the radiator coolant additive (note this is NOT the coolant but an additive) is to be checked every 15K miles on my 2012 F350 but evidently it was not done by the dealer and I had 28K miles on the truck when the warning message first came on.

I towed over a minor pass to Westcliffe CO a couple of weeks ago (before I could get the truck into the dealership) and the truck ran slightly hot...something it hadn't done before even when driving Wolf Creek Pass. Today I took the truck to the Ford dealer, they did the test of the coolant and had to add about a quart of the additive to the coolant. I asked the tech how often I can expect the warning message and he said it really depends on how hard and how far I tow the 5th wheel as that tends to wear the additive out more quickly.

Question: What are other F350 owner's experiences with how often the coolant additive has to be added and does the coolant additive really help keep the truck running cooler or is it just an anti-corrosion additive? Do Dodge and GM trucks have the same type of additive?

BTW, total dealer cost to run the test and add a quart of this additive was $36. I asked the tech if I can add the fluid myself and he said the chemical tester tells them how much additive needs to be added BUT, if I am on the road towing with no ford dealer nearby that I can throw a pint into the coolant and that would get me to the dealer without risking the radiator.
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Re: F-350 Coolant Additive Question

Postby Olbird » Sat Aug 29, 2015 7:16 am

Diesel engines use an anti-corrosion /erosion additive, all our plant diesel engines use an additive in the cooling systems, without the additive the block gets pitting and will fail.
We do a yearly coolant test for proper amount of additives, however if you have cooling problems this product does not provide any improved heat transfer for added cooling.
A little extra additive will not harm the engine and at the same time it takes a couple years to damage the engine without the additive.
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Re: F-350 Coolant Additive Question

Postby Bgjacobsma » Sat Aug 29, 2015 7:51 am

The product they put in your engine is called Nalcool , you can buy it at any auto parts store. It stops electrois in your engine . It is great for finding a water leak because it is a purple dye and shows up very easy .
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Re: F-350 Coolant Additive Question

Postby Olbird » Sat Aug 29, 2015 8:26 am

It prevents the cavitation erosion ( not electrolysis ) from occuring. Cavitation can, over time, blow a hole in your cylinder walls and allow coolant to enter the crankcase or combustion chamber, depending where the hole is. It was somewhat normal on diesels until somebody came up with the additive.

Cavitation occurs due to cylinder wall movement/vibration cause by the diesel combustion, and aggrevated by the thrust ( cavitation damage is almost always on the thrust side of the cylinders ) of the piston as it goes down. As the cylinder wall moves out, it creates a high pressure area along the coolant side of the cylinder walls. When the wall snaps back, a low pressure area is created and bubbles form. When they collapse, they do so with such force that they blow away a little of the cylinder wall. Over time, they can blow a hole all the way through. It is usually worse on sleeved engines because the cylinder liners are more suceptible to movement during combustion.

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Re: F-350 Coolant Additive Question

Postby BMullins46 » Sat Sep 26, 2015 7:34 pm

Keith I get that message about every 12000 miles. I had the dealership check my level when I had the truck serviced last week, they said it was withing specs and did not add any, but like you found they did charge for the test strip. I had 49K on the truck at the time. Since I get the truck serviced at the dealer I expect I'll keep a watch on the additive through them.
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Re: F-350 Coolant Additive Question

Postby watkinsk » Sun Sep 27, 2015 1:09 pm

Thanks Bill, that is pretty much the position I am taking. They did rebalance my coolant a little but I think it is a computer generated message based upon miles not coolant chemistry.
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Re: F-350 Coolant Additive Question

Postby jim » Fri Oct 02, 2015 6:32 am

i did loose an engine on a 92 at 123k. a couple mos later i received a notice from ford abt premature engine failures from cavation due to poor radiator maintenance. when i bought the 2002, it had a gold antifreeze in it that i had to change out every 100k and did not need the additive. have they rethought the gold antifreeze position? (i dont want to loose another engine).

if i remember right, the test is a dca test. the strips are available form the international dealer. the additive was dca 4 from international or fw15? from ford. these were 4 or 8 oz bottles. may not be the same thing that is used today but it was for the same problem. i am and was running a 7.3 which may be a different metal than the current engines.

on my truck, the way i found the problem was that i tried to start the engine after a brief stop at a convenience store. the engine wouldn't turn over...like it hit a brick wall. was able to ultimately start it and it was a month or two when it did the same thing.
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Re: F-350 Coolant Additive Question

Postby watkinsk » Fri Oct 02, 2015 6:56 am

Jim, what I have learned is minimal but this is what I know: The Ford 6.7 Diesels use an orange coolant that is totally different than the old Gold coolant. Never the two should mix. These new orange coolant trucks are special. for the low-sulfur engines. All other diesel truck coolant additives are inappropriate for the Orange Coolant.
Ford initially used a litmus paper test on the coolant but that wasn't accurate enough so they developed a more accurate, computerized sensor test. I don't know if the tester is available for sale outside of Ford. There are actually 3 different chemical levels they test for and two different additives they can add. In my case, I was low on one or two of the chemical levels and they added one additive. The coolant level was actually fine in the truck prior to the test so they had to withdraw an equivalent amount of coolant before they could add the new additive. Strangely enough the cost for Ford to do this was only about $40..which included a disposal fee of a couple dollars for the pint of coolant withdrawn.
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