A Quick Switch to Extended Life Coolant

Many machines are leaving factories containing extended life coolants (ELCs). This is a plus for equipment owners

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Many machines are leaving factories containing extended life coolants (ELCs). This is a plus for equipment owners, who benefit from the longer service life these fluids can provide - typically up to 600,000 miles, 6 years or 12,000 hours if properly maintained.

Yet, the change in coolants has also created some challenges for equipment managers. "There are a lot of vehicles coming into customers' locations nowadays with extended life coolants. Some of the old equipment still has conventional coolant in it," notes Carmen Ulabarro, coolant marketing specialist, ChevronTexaco. "A lot of customers are struggling with the fact that they have to maintain two types of coolants in their equipment."

Fleets transitioning to ELCs may also be faced with a lengthy conversion process. Until now, the only options have been to drain, flush and refill the system, or simply drain and refill with new coolant. Both methods take time to complete, plus require disposal of waste coolant. Draining and refilling without flushing the system also carries the risk of leaving behind old coolant and deposits.

A faster, easier option

While ChevronTexaco continues to recommend drain, flush and refill as the optimum means to convert equipment to ELCs, the company now offers a "quick fix" in the form of its FleetFix Conversion Pack.

A primary component of the FleetFix pack is a concentrated version of the inhibitors found in the company's ELC products. "We brought out FleetFix to help customers do the conversion a lot quicker than you would with a drain, flush and refill, and also a bit more economically because you don't have to get rid of the coolant. It never really leaves the system. It just gets treated with a high dosage of extended life inhibitor and basically gets turned into an extended life coolant," Ulabarro explains.

Once treated, the coolant can provide a service life comparable to an ELC. The only limitation is that the coolant cannot be diluted by more than 25% with water or another non-ELC product.

According to Ulabarro, FleetFix is suitable for both on- and off-road equipment. "This program can be used for any market segment . . . anything that has a cooling system that you want to convert from a conventional to extended life coolant," she states. "There's no limit as far as equipment size."

There is a recommended size, however, for fleets considering using the conversion pack.

"You do save money using FleetFix," says Ulabarro, "but the economics of saving money on real small fleets is not viable. It's better if you just do the best thing - which is to drain, flush and refill - because you don't have very many pieces of equipment. We're really targeting fleets that are 100 or more [pieces] in size."

Monitoring coolant condition

The conversion pack also includes test strips, freeze point charts and post-conversion coolant tests to ensure the coolant meets quality standards.

"Part of the program requires that the customer check the coolant condition before adding FleetFix," says Ulabarro. "You check the coolant in service by checking the freeze point, nitrite levels and pH. If those pass, we consider that the coolant in place is in good enough condition to have the inhibitor put into it."

Once the inhibitor has been added, the coolant is circulated through the system. Then another sample is taken and mailed to a testing lab.

"They evaluate the coolant to be sure enough inhibitor has been put in, and that the coolant was in good enough shape for it to be treated," Ulabarro explains. She adds that only a very small percentage of coolants fail to pass lab testing.

Even with such safeguards, concerns may come up regarding the level of deposits remaining in the cooling system. "A lot of the inhibitors in conventional coolants have a tendency to lay down deposits," says Ulabarro. "But when you add FleetFix, you're not adding any more deposit-building materials." Rather, she says the product serves to dilute existing deposits, which eventually disappear over time.

Ulabarro adds that the FleetFix program has been field tested for the past eight years on over 150,000 vehicles and has been found both safe and effective.

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