So, you are tired of relying on the mechanic just to get your coolant changed or checked? Well, you just have made the right choice in taking things into your hands. Understanding the antifreeze and coolant for your car is not a tough thing at all.
And when you have a proper understanding of coolant and antifreeze, you can do all those checkups and changes on your own. That would allow you to save loads of cash. Well, it did for us.
We dug deeper regarding the coolant and antifreeze and the right amount of knowledge regarding them. And after that, we never felt the need to rush to the mechanic when a problem occurred. Through this article, we will ensure that you have the same capability too.
What Is Coolant for a Car?
Let us start from the very basics. So, what exactly is a coolant for a car? Well, it is a liquid that protects the engines from heating up too much. It basically keeps the temperature in the optimal range, which ensures a stable overall performance and lowers the chances of throttling.
Furthermore, the coolant lubricates the moving parts that come in contact with each other. So, the friction between them remains exceptionally low, which eventually enhances the lifespan of those parts. We are referring to the water pump, cylinder, piston, and head gasket here.
Is Coolant and Antifreeze the Same Thing?
You might have noticed that some mechanics or driver refers this liquid as coolant, while some prefers calling this antifreeze. Well, when you hear the word “antifreeze,” what comes to your mind? Something that stops freezing, right? On the other hand, “coolant” would make you think of a liquid that cools stuff.
In those senses, both of them are different, right? As one is hindering things from getting frozen while the other is cooling things down. Well, it is not actually like that. Both the antifreeze and coolant are the same thing. That means both of them are capable of hindering the parts from getting frozen and keeping things cool.
In fact, you can call antifreeze coolant and coolant antifreeze if you want to. Yes, depending on the type, both will have the same formula with the same elements. So, to conclude, coolant and antifreeze are the same thing and do the same thing in the engine.
What Is Coolant Made of?
Regardless of the type of coolant, all of the automotive antifreeze will be glycol-based. The most common coolants will have ethylene glycol that will be mixed with other additive packages and distilled water. Also, some coolants will utilize propylene glycol and water.
Now, you might be wondering what the difference is between ethylene glycol and propylene glycol. Well, the thing that makes these two glycols stand out is that propylene glycol is considerably less toxic than ethylene glycol.
Furthermore, you might wonder why water is present on both the glycol-based coolants. Well, water has more heat-carrying capacity than both ethylene glycol and propylene glycol. In that sense, one can use only water as a coolant. But the first problem is the freezing point and the boiling point.
Alongside that, pure water can cause rust and make the core components of the cooling system corrode. And when glycols are mixed with water, both the freezing and boiling points get a respectable limit, and the chances of corrosion and rusts occurring remain low too.
What Coolant to Use in My Car?
There are three types of coolants available in the market if we consider the overall chemistry of the formula. And if you have a proper idea regarding the types, you will be able to tell which one you should use for your car.
Inorganic Acid Technology Antifreeze
IAT, otherwise known as Inorganic Acid Technology, is conventional technology coolant manufacturers have used for a long amount of time. These usually come in yellow or green color. However, there is a downside. These have a comparatively less lifespan. That means you would need to change it frequently.
Organic Acid Technology Antifreeze
Plenty of coolant suppliers are using Organic Acid Technology to manufacture the coolants. These have a substantially higher lifespan compared to the IAT, and these come in pink, blue, orange, or dark green colors.
Hybrid Organic Acid Technology Coolant
As the name suggests, this one is a mix of IAT and OAT. And HOAT is pretty popular among plenty of major car manufacturers. Also, most of the new cars will utilize these coolants as they integrate all the good stuff of both IAT and OAT coolants.
Which One Should You Choose?
Well, you do not have that much choice in terms of choosing these coolants. You can only choose the brand, not the type of coolant. Wondering why? Well, the manufacturer will specify the type of antifreeze your vehicle operates on.
And if you choose anything that the manufacturer does not recommend, the coolant performance might not be up to the mark. For that reason, one of the first factors that one needs to consider when purchasing a coolant is the OEM specification. That is a must!
How to Choose the Right Coolant for Your Car?
There are two forms of coolant available in the market. The first one is the concentrated form, where the coolant will come in its purest form. That means there will be nothing mixed with it.
On the other hand, there are pre-mixed or pre-diluted ones. Those will usually have a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and distilled water. And there are other mix options available as well, such as the 40/60 mix, where 40 percent of the total coolant will be water, while the rest is concentrated antifreeze.
Now, when it comes to which one is better, it will depend on your preference. If you like to have more control over the mix, then the concentrated forms should be your go-to option. Those also offer a good value for the money as well. But you would need to be extra careful when you are mixing the coolant with water.
However, if you do not want to go through the hassle of mixing the coolant with distilled water, opt for the pre-mixed or pre-diluted ones. All you need to do is flush the previous coolant from the reservoir, open the cap of the antifreeze container, and pour the coolant inside.
What Is the Difference Between Engine Coolant and Radiator Coolant?
Again, when you hear engine coolant, you might think that it is a liquid for the engine. And the same thing goes for the radiator coolant. However, both are the same thing.
The coolant you will store in the reservoir will make its way to the tubings, hoses, and other cooling system components. Then it will circle right back at the radiator. In other words, when the same coolant will make its way to the engine and the radiator.
Now, you might be wondering what the role of the radiator in this case is. Well, it cools off the hot coolant. The fins and fans on the radiator will cool down the antifreeze as it passes through the radiator tubings.
Driving Without Coolant: OK Or Not?
You should not drive a car without coolant! It will make the engine overheat, and that overheating will not only make the engine offer considerably less performance but also can damage the ore components of the engine. In fact, you might even have to look for a complete replacement of the parts!
Furthermore, the gaskets and the rubber parts of the cooling system will melt from the heat. And there might be some parts that can get permanently damaged. Replacing those will have a huge blow on your wallet.
So, in a nutshell, you should not drive without coolant, nor should you start the engine when the coolant level is low. However, what if your radiator reservoir gets punctured all of a sudden. And you lose all of the coolants inside. At that point, you might wonder how long can you drive without coolant.
Well, if that actually happens, you might have about a minute. You might be able to get away driving five minutes without coolant if it is winter and the temperature is extremely low.
Even in that scenario, you should not drive with an empty reservoir. In dire situations, consider filling up the reservoir with water. That will let you drive for at least a few days. But still, there will be some damages to the engine and the other parts. Some parts might even catch rust or corrode.
As you can see, understanding the antifreeze and coolant for your car is not as hard as some think it is. And now that you know all about the type and formula of the coolant, you can choose and pour the coolants on your own pretty easily. There will be no need to rely on a mechanic for that task.