Testing for chemical electrolysis:

The following test procedures will be looking for chemical electrolysis in a vehicle’s cooling system which is caused by poor maintenance and chemical imbalance:

  • Find out as much information as you can about prior maintenance history of the cooling system.
  • You should simply look at the antifreeze to determine if it is clear and clean or if it is cloudy, dirty or rusty. Tip: Pour a small amount into a clear container so you can see the clarity of it.
  • The best way for testing is to use coolant test strips which measures the coolant’s pH, Reserve Alkalinity and Freeze Point / Boiling Point coolant to water mixture.
  • Another way is to use a pH test strip which should test about 7.0 anything below that is considered acidic.  We would like to see it a little higher than 7.0 please note that new antifreeze, depending on the brand, is about 7.0 pH.
  • Test the coolant freeze point gravity between the water and coolant percentages by using refractometer or hydrometer. It needs to be at least 50% antifreeze

If any of the above tests prove to be positive, please do not take any chances and do a cooling system flush and replace with fresh coolant.  Please refer to “How to properly back flush a cooling system” for further explanation and videos in this website for proper flushing procedures.

Testing for stray voltage electrolysis:

The following test procedures will be looking for stray voltage in the cooling system which is caused by poorly grounded components, alternator over-charging, and static electricity looking for a ground.

Begin by using a Digital Volt-Ohm Meter (DVOM).  Hook the negative lead to the negative battery post and dangle the positive lead into the coolant.  When you put the test lead into the coolant make sure that you do not touch the sides of the radiator, transmission oil cooler or anything on the end of the probe.  It even works better when you use a copper tube on the end of an alligator clip which will give you the most accurate reading.

Copper tube vs. test lead

Tip:You should use top quality test leads to your meter and the connection site should be clean and free of debris.

Shows the differences between a copper tube and a standard test probe lead. The yellow meter has the copper tube attached to it and it shows a 1/10ths volt (0.10V) higher reading

Most manufacturers agree that a reading of 3/10ths (0.300v) of a volt is acceptable and anything over that can cause major damage.  In the following procedures we are looking to see if it ever receives more than 3/10ths voltage and if so corrective measures need to be taken.

  • Before you start the vehicle look at the voltage reading and if it is higher than 0.300v it means the antifreeze is holding a charge and needs to be thoroughly flushed.
  • Start the vehicle with all electrical accessories “off” and note the voltage.  Bring the engine RPM up to approximately 1,500 to 2,000 and note the voltage again.
  • With the engine at the high RPM turn on and off every electrical component in the entire vehicle and do not overlook anything.  Examples:  Heating and air-conditioning in all positions and all blower speeds, stereo (MP3 player, remote CD), electrical antenna, windows, door locks, seats, back-up alarm/lights, horn, headlights, taillights, turn signals, front and rear window defoggers, and any added additional electrical equipment, etc.  If you see a voltage spike it is most likely improperly grounded.  Note if any spike is higher than 0.300v then you have a severe problem.
  • You must perform the same test by putting the positive battery terminal on the positive post of the battery and dangle the negative lead in the coolant.
  • Take the DVOM and check the alternator output for over-charging. Start the vehicle and hook up the test leads to the negative and positive posts of the battery and then check the voltage.   Most manufacturers consider 14.7 volts is over-charging as anything over that the battery cannot accept and the stray voltage gets absorbed somewhere.  If it is above the 14.7 volts you must repair either the alternator or voltage regulator or maybe both.

This vehicle has a reading of 0.40v that is 0.10v over the acceptable limit

This vehicle has a reading of 0.81 when starting. It had a bad ground at the battery

Shows a normal operating charging system

To solve these problems BMR Distributing, Inc. has a full product line to eliminate electrolysis in a vehicle’s cooling system and recommends using the following:

Please see “Products” page for a more detailed explanation on Ve-Labs and Inter-Ject products.