How to Reset “Check Coolant Additive” on Ford F250?

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Key Takeaways:

  • The “Check Coolant Additive” message indicates that the coolant additive needs to be replenished.
  • The message can be reset through the dashboard settings menu on the Ford F250.
  • Steps involve navigating to “Vehicle” then “Maintenance” and selecting “Reset Check Coolant Additive”.
  • Alternatively, disconnecting the negative battery cable for a few minutes will also reset the message.
  • Resetting the message without replenishing the additive is not advised.
  • Coolant additives protect the engine from corrosion, freezing and overheating.


The “Check Coolant Additive” message popping up on your Ford F250’s dashboard can be frustrating and concerning. This light indicates that the supplementary coolant additive (SCA) concentration in your vehicle’s cooling system is low and needs to be replenished soon. Maintaining the correct SCA level is essential to protect your F250’s engine from corrosion, freezing temperatures, and overheating.

This comprehensive article will walk you through the straightforward process of resetting the “Check Coolant Additive” message on your Ford F250 using the settings menu on the dashboard. Alternative methods like disconnecting the battery will also be covered. You will learn the step-by-step instructions for resetting the message accurately. Additionally, the purpose and benefits of coolant additives will be explained, so you understand why periodic replenishment is crucial.

With the help of this guide, you will be able to clear the “Check Coolant Additive” alert on your dashboard confidently and ensure your F250’s cooling system remains well-protected. The clear instructions and practical tips will equip you to reset this message when required and maintain your heavy-duty truck optimally. So let’s get started!

What Causes the “Check Coolant Additive” Message in Ford F250?

Ford vehicles like the F250 use coolant containing a supplementary coolant additive package. The SCA contains inhibitors that prevent corrosion and breakdown of the coolant and engine components. However, the concentration of SCA depletes over time and needs to be periodically replenished.

The “Check Coolant Additive” message lights up on the dashboard when the vehicle computer detects low SCA levels through coolant chemical sensors. This indicates it’s time to add more coolant additive. The message is first displayed at about 5,000 miles after a coolant change service. Subsequently, it appears at 15,000 mile intervals if the additive is not replenished.

Ignoring this warning and continuing to drive with low SCA can lead to corrosion damage, cylinder liner pitting, erosion of engine parts, and even engine failure. That’s why it’s essential to promptly reset the message and refill the coolant additive.

How Does Resetting the Message Work?

When you refill the coolant additive as required, the SCA concentration will be restored to the correct level. However, the “Check Coolant Additive” message may still stay on unnecessarily unless it is manually reset.

Resetting clears the warning light from the dashboard and resets the mileage counter for the next additive replenishment. This allows the dashboard message to accurately reflect when the Ford F250’s coolant additive level is low again.

Think of it like resetting the oil change reminder on your dashboard after getting an oil change service. It ensures you get a fresh alert for your next oil change as per the recommended mileage interval.

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Reset Check Coolant Additive Message on Ford F250

Here is a step-by-step walkthrough of the process to reset the “Check Coolant Additive” message on your Ford F250 through the dashboard settings menu:

Step 1: Access the Settings Menu

  • Turn on the ignition to get the dashboard powered on.
  • Locate the settings button on the dashboard. It has a picture of a wrench or tool.
  • Press the settings button to enter the vehicles settings menu.

Step 2: Enter Vehicle Settings

  • In the settings menu, use the arrow or toggle buttons to highlight “Vehicle”
  • Press the OK button to enter the vehicle settings submenu.

Step 3: Enter Maintenance Mode

  • In the Vehicle settings, use the buttons to select “Maintenance”
  • Press OK to bring up the maintenance options.

Step 4: Select Engine Oil Life

  • Use the up/down arrows to scroll and highlight “Engine Oil Life”
  • Press OK to enter the engine oil life screen.

Step 5: Choose Reset

  • On the oil life screen, use the toggle to select “Reset”
  • Press OK to proceed.

Step 6: Pick Additive Reset

  • A list of resettable maintenance items will be displayed.
  • Use the toggle to scroll down and select “Reset Check Coolant Additive”
  • Press OK to confirm reset of the check coolant additive message.

The “Check Coolant Additive” message should now be cleared from the dashboard. Make sure to replenish the coolant additive within a few driving cycles for optimal protection.

Helpful Tips for the Reset Process

  • Reset steps may vary slightly between Ford F250 model years. Refer to owner’s manual if needed.
  • The engine must be off to access some settings menus.
  • You may have to provide access or security PINs to enter certain menus.
  • Reset process is similar for other maintenance reminders like oil change, brake pads, filters etc.
  • If message reappears soon, a sensor fault may exist instead of low additive levels.

Alternative Method: Disconnecting the Battery

The “Check Coolant Additive” message can also be reset by disconnecting and reconnecting the F250’s battery. Here are the steps:

  • Open the hood and locate the battery terminals.
  • Use a wrench to loosen the bolt and disconnect the negative (black) battery cable.
  • Wait at least 10-15 minutes before reconnecting the cable. This allows the vehicle computer and sensors to reset.
  • Reconnect the battery cable and tighten the bolt securely.
  • The “Check Coolant Additive” light should be cleared after this battery reset.

However, keep in mind that disconnecting the battery also resets other dashboard settings like clock, radio, power windows etc. It also deletes any trouble codes that mechanics use for diagnostics.

Therefore, this method should only be used as a last resort when the normal reset procedure does not work. The dashboard settings reset is safer and does not affect other systems.

Why is Periodic Coolant Additive Replenishment Important?

You may be wondering if you can simply keep resetting the message indefinitely instead of actually refilling the coolant additive. While that may be possible, it is strongly advised against for several crucial reasons:

Prevents Cooling System Corrosion

The coolant additive contains corrosion inhibitors that create a protective coating on cooling system components. This prevents rust, scale buildup, pitting and deterioration from corrosion. Without sufficient additives, even aluminum engine parts can corrode leading to leaks and damage.

Protects Against Freezing and Boil-Over

The SCA solution enhances the antifreeze properties of the coolant. This lowers its freezing point to avoid icing and blockages during cold weather. It also raises the boiling point to prevent coolant boil-over and overheating issues.

Extends Coolant and Engine Life

The additives containing scale inhibitors help prevent mineral deposits that can clog coolant passages. This enables optimal coolant flow and cooling performance, extending the fluid change intervals. Well-protected engines also have longer service lives.

Ensures Optimal Performance

Proper SCA concentration is required to maintain the ideal coolant pH balance. The right pH protects against scale and corrosion while optimizing heat transfer. This enables peak engine temperature control and performance.

Avoiding Expensive Repairs

Continued driving without sufficient coolant additives can lead to quite costly repairs like replacing corroded radiators, cylinder heads, water pumps etc. Periodic replenishment is much cheaper than these major repairs.

So resetting the message without the accompanying additive refill defeats its purpose and should be avoided, even if no immediate issues are noticeable. Staying on top of coolant maintenance translates into long-term benefits and savings.

How Often Should You Check and Add Coolant Additive?

Ford recommends using Motorcraft Premium Gold Coolant and replenishing the coolant additive at 15,000 mile intervals. The “Check Coolant Additive” message is timed to appear around this mileage based on driving conditions and coolant sensor readings.

However, you should also periodically check SCA levels manually every 6-12 months and add additive if needed earlier. The rate of SCA depletion can vary depending on factors like:

  • Vehicle age and accumulated mileage
  • Driving habits and operating conditions
  • Extreme hot or cold weather exposure
  • Leaks allowing coolant loss/dilution
  • Quality of water used in the cooling system

Using Ford’s coolant testing strips or having a mechanic check the coolant additive concentration directly can give you a more accurate status. This allows you to top up the SCA proactively when required, for complete protection between the scheduled dashboard messages.

What Kind of Coolant Additive Should You Use?

Ford specifically recommends using Motorcraft Premium Gold prediluted engine coolant or VC-3DIL-B concentrate along with the Motorcraft Premium Gold coolant additive. The VC-3DIL-B additive is phosphated organic acid technology (POAT) based and offers long-lasting corrosion protection tailored for Ford engines and components.

Aftermarket coolant additives or fully formulated coolants containing equivalent POAT additive chemistry can also be used. Many leading coolant brands offer suitable options. Just ensure it says compatible with Ford vehicles and check the label for correct POAT content.

Never mix incompatible coolant types or brands. Always dilute concentrated coolant properly and fill your F250’s cooling system following the recommended 50/50 dilution ratio for optimum performance and freeze protection.

Can You Reset the Message Without Adding Coolant Additive?

While it is technically possible to keep resetting the “Check Coolant Additive” message repeatedly without refilling, this is strongly inadvisable. As explained earlier, maintaining the proper supplemental coolant additive concentration is vital for engine protection and longevity.

Resetting the message simply turns off the light and resets the countdown timer. It does not actually replenish the depleted additives or turn off the underlying warning sensors which detect low SCA concentration. Driving without adequate additives will lead to corrosion, pitting and efficiency losses.

Eventually this can result in coolant leaks, overheating issues, radiator damage and costly engine repairs. To avoid all these problems and enjoy your Ford F250’s optimal performance, make sure to refill the coolant additive whenever the message appears.

Common Questions About Resetting Check Coolant Additive Message

How do I get rid of the check coolant additive light permanently?

There is no way to permanently disable the check coolant additive light. It is designed to periodically alert you when it is time to replenish the additive based on usage. The proper way to get rid of the light is to refill the coolant additive as needed whenever the message appears.

Can I just keep adding coolant instead of additive?

No, only adding plain coolant when the message appears is not sufficient. It does not replenish the depleted SCA additives which protect the engine. You need to add the specified amount of coolant additive like Motorcraft VC-3DIL-B as directed.

Does disconnecting battery reset the coolant additive message?

Yes, disconnecting the battery for 10-15 minutes will clear the check coolant additive message by resetting the vehicle computer. But it also resets your other dashboard settings. Only use this method if the normal reset procedure is not working.

How do I know if the coolant additive is low without dashboard message?

Use Ford’s coolant test strips to check the SCA concentration directly. Or have a mechanic drain out a small coolant sample and test it chemically. This allows you to proactively top up the additive before the light appears.

Can I just keep adding water instead of coolant?

No, you should never top up the cooling system with plain water. It dilutes the coolant and additives, reducing protection. Always maintain the 50/50 coolant/water dilution ratio when topping up.

Is it safe to drive with the check coolant additive warning light on?

It’s not recommended to ignore the message and continue driving long-term without replenishing the additive. This risks serious engine damage from corrosion, freezing or overheating. But driving short distances to the repair shop is fine.

Does the coolant additive need to be replaced as often as engine coolant?

The long-life coolant can last 5-10 years. But the SCA additives get used up faster, requiring replacement every 15,000 miles. So you need to keep replenishing the additive before changing out all the coolant.

Can I use any type of coolant additive in my Ford F250?

No, Ford specifically recommends Motorcraft VC-3DIL-B additive or equivalent additives containing POAT inhibitors. Using incompatible types of additive can damage your engine and cooling system.


Having to deal with a “Check Coolant Additive” warning light popping up on your Ford F250’s dashboard can certainly be annoying. But understanding what causes this message, how to properly reset it, and the importance of periodic coolant additive replenishment gives you the knowledge to address this alert promptly.

Following the clearly explained step-by-step process to reset the message through the settings menu ensures the light goes away, while refreshing the additive keeps your engine thoroughly protected. Even if disconnecting the battery provides a quick reset workaround, diligently maintaining your F250’s cooling system remains vital.

Equipped with these insights, you can confidently handle that pesky “Check Coolant Additive” message the right way. Your loyal Ford truck provides invaluable performance and capability, so taking good care of its engine and cooling system is the least we can do in return. Consistent maintenance translates into a long productive service life for your hardworking vehicle.

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