1. With winter coming, what should drivers and fleets be aware of when checking their coolant for cold weather driving?

    For Extended Life Coolants (ELC), or Organic Acid Technology (OAT) coolants like Shell Rotella ELC and Shell Rotella ELC Nitrite Free, maintenance is very easy, and fall is the perfect time to check the coolant before cold weather arrives. The first thing is to perform a visual inspection of the coolant level and appearance. The coolant should be clear with no cloudiness, floating debris or oil visible. The freeze point should be checked with a refractometer, which is more accurate than a Hydrometer, or the “floating balls”.

    The recommended freeze point is -34°F, which corresponds to approximately a 50/50 mixture of water and coolant. If the coolant is in good condition, but the level is low, you can top off with premixed 50/50 coolant of the same type/brand. For especially cold climates like the Midwest or New England area, it may be necessary to go with a 55/45, or even 60/40 mixture of ethylene glycol/water. It may be necessary to top off with concentrated coolant to get the freeze point right.

    Traditional inorganic additive technology (IAT) or fully formulated coolants require more work. The additives in these types of coolants deplete over time and need to be replenished regularly with supplemental coolant additives (SCAs). If you are using these types of coolants, we recommend that you switch to an ELC such as Shell Rotella ELC and Shell Rotella ELC Nitrite Free which are designed to go 600,000 to 1,000,000 on-highway miles and even beyond with proper monitoring.

  2. How should diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) be handled to avoid reducing its shelf life in a shop or by drivers?

    The shelf-life of DEF is largely dependent on storage temperature. When stored under optimal conditions (between 12°F and 86°F) DEF has a shelf life of one to two years. Higher temperatures will not affect the quality of the DEF but will shorten its shelf-life. However, the quality of DEF is not affected if the fluid freezes.

    DEF should not be stored in direct sunlight in a shop or in a truck. Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight and high temperatures will cause DEF to degrade, reducing the shelf life. The ideal storage is in a cool, dry ventilated place.

    DEF should be stored by batch dates and FIFO (first in first out) system should be used to maintain optimum life of DEF. Drivers purchasing DEF in containers should look for the API Certification Mark when making their choices on products. You should also look at the expiration date on the bottle if present and be sure to use it before this date as the product has a limited shelf life.

    In a shop, regular maintenance and testing of DEF should be conducted. Personnel should be familiar with the use of a refractometer which is designed to measure the concentration of water-soluble fluids for purity of DEF. A commitment to meeting the ISO 22241 standard which specifies the quality characteristics of DEF is important to follow.