After I drove my newly purchased 2005 Toyota Camry for about a week, one of the first things my colleagues asked me was when last I put water in my radiator. I remarked that I was not thinking of doing it. They were shocked at my response and warned of dire consequences to the shiny automobile.

I spent a few minutes trying to convince them that the car didn’t need the water. As a mater of fact, I read everything I could find on Google search before ever stepping foot on the gas. I knew all about what grade of engine oil it needed, maintenance schedules, what kind of coolant it required, principles of operation of manual and automatic gears, how clutch engagement works, etc. I even downloaded the manual and read it long before setting eyes on the car.

Few days later, one of my colleagues sought me out to inform me that indeed, there is no need to add water to the vehicles radiator. The recommended coolant did the job pretty well and doesn’t need to be topped up every morning, she said. She had read up on it, as you’d expect from a science professional.

Ignorance around car issues pervades this country. There are far too many myths flying about. You’d see the consequences in congested traffic in big cities like Lagos. Water as a coolant in closed cooling systems as you find in most cars is a no – no. Water alone boils at 100 degrees Celsius; much lower than the designed operating temperature of a combustion engine. The water will turn into steam and pressurize the cooling system beyond its designed capacity leading to boil over and overheating of the engine leading to catastrophic engine failure. That’s one of the reasons the majority of cars used in Nigeria age quite poorly.

The recommended coolant is usually a 50:50 mixture of water and coolant, a.k.a antifreeze. This mixture won’t evaporate like water, and unlike water, also has properties that prevent corrosion of the internal engine components. My Camry used Toyota super long life coolant. Your owner’s manual will likely say what coolant is best for your vehicle. Using water alone is not just ignorant; engine overheating problems and stalling in traffic is just one of many problems that plague affected automobiles. Knowledge they say, is power, so pass this around and save a car.

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