Presto… without the change-o

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Now here’s a real example of better living through chemistry: According to the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC), extended-service-interval (ESI) coolants have eased cooling system maintenance requirements over the past several years by eliminating the need to check and adjust coolant chemistry at every engine-oil change. TMC’s Recommended Practice 338A defines an ESI coolant as one that can go beyond 100,000 miles between service intervals, i.e., changing coolant or replacing depleted chemicals.

One type of ESI uses time-release supplemental coolant additives (SCAs, which are mostly silicates) that prolong resistance to corrosion and liner cavitation, thereby extending service intervals.

Another, newer type uses organic additive technology (OAT) to provide the same, or better, protection. The additives in this type of coolant deplete much more slowly, and not only can extend service intervals beyond 100,000 miles, but can extend coolant life by several times those intervals.

You might be thinking that switching to OAT technology requires draining cooling systems, flushing and starting over with new product. And that’s still the recommended procedure, according to Jim Roberts, Shell technical service specialist. But if your cooling systems are in good shape – freeze point and PH within spec, no leaky hoses, etc. – your vehicles could be candidates for Shell’s Extended Life Coolant (ELC) OAT-based conversion kit.

The kit, says Shell, provides everything needed, in one box, to convert cooling systems to Rotella ELC, without draining and refilling, for protection up to 600,000 miles or 12,000 hours of service. The conversion reportedly takes less than an hour, and adding SCAs instantly becomes a thing of the past.

During a recent visit to Shell’s labs near Houston, Roberts outlined the kit’s contents, conversion procedure and benefits. The five-truck kit contains five gallons of ELC Conversion Fluid, each good for converting a 12-gallon system. The fluid contains a highly concentrated dose of ELC additives blended in a 50/50 mixture of ethylene glycol and deionized water, which has minimal impact on freeze point. The fluid, he explained, is fully compatible with all reputable ethylene glycol-based coolants.

Also included are a procedure card, 12 test strips to check existing chemistry, 10 ELC vehicle identification tags, five coolant sample bottles with mailers, and a FAQ card.

The conversion process simply involves: ensuring that the cooling system and existing coolant are in good condition; removing the additive filter (if so equipped) and replacing it with a blank filter, block-off or bypass; draining just one gallon of coolant and replacing it with the Conversion Fluid; tagging the vehicle so others who work on it will know what’s in the cooling system; then running the vehicle and submitting a coolant sample for Shell engineers to evaluate.

If all goes well, it may not be water into wine, but you’ve suddenly got 600,000-mile coolant in your system. You’ve also got a lot less coolant to dispose of.

Roberts added that some 20,000 trucks have been converted over seven years of development, and that the conversion program is recommended for use in all North American heavy-duty engines, including Caterpillar, Cummins, Detroit Diesel, International, Mack, Mercedes and Volvo.

For more information, call (800) 782-7852 or visit this site. Click on Products, then Antifreeze/Coolants.