What is a Car Coolant? How to choose the correct one for your Car.
Most people know that coolant is one of the most critical fluids in your car. It’s what keeps it from overheating like an overheating kettle. The coolant absorbs heat from the engine and maintains its temperature. The water pump rotates the coolant around the engine. But what most people don’t know is how to choose the correct coolant for their car.
Without proper coolant level (and quality) in your car, there’s no way for your car to achieve the proper operating temperature. When the engine doesn’t reach optimum heat levels, the car could overheat, cause trans damage, and even lead to major engine failure.
But what does all this have to do with your cooling system?
To answer that question, you’ll need some basic knowledge of how an automobile cooling system works and what leftover fluids are in there.
You’ve probably seen the green antifreeze that your father used to pour into your radiator each year after you had your yearly checkup. That’s coolant, and it’s essential to keeping your engine from overheating. You’re actually supposed to drain some of the coolants from your vehicle for the winter, as engine block heaters are intended to keep the coolant from freezing.
Over time, the coolant breaks down and needs to be replaced. Depending on your car’s manufacturer, you’ll need to use a specific kind of coolant. Some manufacturers recommend using an “extended life” coolant that tends to last longer than standard coolants and is made with more additives.
The coolant is usually made up of water, which then absorbs the heat from inside the engine before being circulated out for cooling through a radiator or other method (like air flowing across the radiator). Coolant also has chemical additives that help prevent corrosion or rusting of metal parts, like old radiators or steel parts on your engine.
But coolant isn’t the only fluid inside your cooling system. Some engines even use a mixture of 50% antifreeze and water, which is called engine coolant or just “coolant”. That means that you can think of the coolant as something that combines water and anti-freezing additives to help keep your car from freezing in cold weather.
Choosing the Right Coolant for Your Car
When it comes time to top off or do a complete system flush you’re going to have to find the right coolant for the job. It can be difficult to tell which type of coolant a car needs. Types of Engine Coolant
The most common coolants on the market are:
- Organic Acid Technology (OAT)
- Ethylene Glycol (EG)
- Polypropylene Glycol (PG)
The most common coolant used in cars today is OAT. OAT coolants are long-life and can be used for up to 10 years or 150,000 miles before being replaced. OAT coolants are also compatible with all types of metals found in a cooling system, including aluminum.
EG coolants are the traditional green antifreeze most people are familiar with. EG coolants are compatible with all types of metals found in a cooling system, including aluminum.
PG coolants are a newer type of coolant that is compatible with all types of metals found in a cooling system, including aluminum.
Silicate-free coolants are a new type of coolant that is compatible with all types of metals found in a cooling system, including aluminum.
How to Tell the Difference Between Coolant Types
Good quality coolant is typically easy to identify as it will have a particular color or smell. However, different types of coolants can come in various colors and smells. It’s important that you know what coolant type you’re buying so you don’t end up with something that won’t meet your needs.
One of the best ways to tell the difference between different coolants is by looking at their packaging. Coolant manufacturers will typically clearly mark which type of coolant you’re buying on the packaging, and may also provide other helpful information about the coolant’s recommended use or compatibility with your engine.
Another way to tell if a coolant is compatible with your car is to consult your owner’s manual. Your owner’s manual will list the recommended coolant type for your car, as well as any other specific instructions for adding coolant to your system.
Additional Read: What Causes Engine Knocking Sound?
What Separates Good and Bad Coolants?
Coolant comes in a variety of colors, but typically they are either green or red. But the color doesn’t really matter. What matters is the concentration of the coolant.
As stated earlier, coolants are concentrated mixtures of ethylene glycol and propylene glycol. The better coolants will have a higher amount of these chemicals to ensure that they keep you safe in extreme weather conditions.
What Is The Difference Between Green & Orange Coolant?
Green coolants are typically a 60/40 mixture of ethylene glycol and propylene glycol, mostly for cars that are manufactured outside the US. The coolant will typically have a -40 hour freeze point, which is low for most people.
Orange coolants are typically 70/30 or 50/50 mixtures of ethylene glycol and propylene glycol. The coolant will typically have a -34 hour freeze point, making them the best in terms of winter performance. They are also the most expensive coolants available to the general public.
Red coolants are typically used for your brake system and are usually a 50/50 mixture of ethylene glycol and propylene glycol. They have a -55 hour freeze point, which is a bit lower than most non-US cars, but it will work in any car.
Switching coolants can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing, so let’s go over the process really quickly as the wrong coolant can damage your car’s engine.
The first step is to check the coolant type in your owner’s manual and ensure that the new coolant you’re adding is compatible with your car.
Once you’ve confirmed that the new coolant is compatible, you’ll need to flush the old coolant from your system. This involves removing the old coolant and flushing out your engine’s cooling system with water or another type of liquid.
Next, you’ll need to add the new coolant to your system, allowing it to circulate around your engine and providing protection against extreme weather conditions.
Finally, you should run a few test drives to ensure that there are no leaks or other issues with your car’s cooling system. If everything checks out, then you’re done! But be sure to monitor your coolant levels regularly in the future.
In summary, there are a few key things that separate good and bad coolants: concentration of chemicals, freeze point, and compatibility with your car’s engine. When switching or adding new coolants, be sure to consult your owner’s manual and take all necessary precautions to avoid damaging your car’s engine.
Additional Read: What is the Purpose of a Fan Belt in a Car?
Coolants are great products to keep in mind when you next need to top off your fluid levels. Have fun switching around coolants, but remember that it’s something you want to get right the first time so make sure you always use distilled water for topping off and rinsing.
Contact us if you are looking for a car coolant change in Burnaby.