Bottom Line
Maintenance Q&A
Do's and don'ts of additives and aftermarket parts

By Paul Abelson, senior technical editor

Q. I have owned several trucks throughout the last 35 years, and am a big believer in using Pencool in the coolant. However, now the trucks all come with extended-life coolant (ELC), mostly orange colored, and there seems to be some confusion about mixing the two. Give me the straight scoop. Do I need the Pencool with the orange? Will it hurt the coolant to add the Pencool?

A. You do not need Pencool, supplements or other coolant additive (SCA) when using ELC – provided you have not diluted the orange coolant with traditional green coolant. If there is more than 10 to 15 percent green coolant, you have two choices:

  • Flush the cooling system and refill with ELC, or
  • Treat all the coolant as conventional and test for SCAs at every oil drain interval.

If indicated, add SCAs or use a Penray (maker of Pencool) Need Release filter or other filter containing a SCA recharge. The Need Release filter has membranes that dissolve when necessary by the chemical balance in the coolant. Although the process is automatic and each filter lasts about a year, you should still use test strips to check SCA balance at every oil change.

Many SCA-containing filters release their entire charge when put in service. The Penray filter releases SCAs in batches, so the coolant is not over- or under-charged, Baldwin makes a Controlled Release Coolant Filter with SCAs that dissolve into the coolant at a steady rate when exposed to heat and coolant flow. This, too, prevents improper dosing.

Insufficient SCAs will result in poorly lubricated water pumps, cylinder liner pitting and more. An SCA overcharge can result in abrasive deposits in the coolant and premature water pump failure.

I would not add the Pencool, Need Release or Baldwin filter to ELC coolant. They are not needed with the organic acid technology used with ELC and will only contaminate that coolant. There are extenders for ELCs that add 200,000 miles or more to coolant life. Use the extenders only once – after one addition of extender, drain and flush coolant.


Q. I just had a Horton fan clutch fail, and it cost $4,300. I’ve been reading online that Horton has a high failure rate with their fan clutches. Has there ever been a recall bulletin put out for those Horton fan clutches? Are there any instances where they would pick up the tab for the repair? Have you heard about Kit Masters fan clutches? I read online that they are a good quality replacement for the Horton units. What do you think?

A. I checked with a friend from the Technology & Maintenance Council who used to work for Horton. He stated that the fan clutch maker did have a period when quality was not up to par. Horton issued two Technical Service Bulletins about 10 years ago.

An authorized dealer should have found these in the course of his diagnosis. However, your truck may have been beyond the warranty period when your failure occurred.

I do not know if you had your $4,300 repair job done by a truck dealer or other authorized Horton repair facility or by an independent mechanic.

As for Kit Masters parts, my friend recommended staying with original Horton parts. I usually find too much uncertainty with will-fit parts. Most manufacturers recommend against them and will not honor warranty work if genuine factory parts are not used. They have no control over those parts, which often have tolerances, metallurgy and other specifications that do not meet original equipment standards. Horton does make factory remanufactured fan clutches.

Also, Horton and Kit Masters have settled one patent infringement case and have a second case pending.

If you feel your service provider’s warranty gives you the coverage you need, by all means try the kit or another brand. LL


Send your question to Paul Abelson, senior technical editor, in care of Land Line Magazine,
PO Box 1000, Grain Valley, MO 64029; e-mail them to or fax questions to 630-983-7678. Please mark your message Attention: Maintenance Q&A. Although we won’t be able to publish an answer to all questions in Land Line, we will answer as many as possible.