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How to Pick the Suitable Car Coolant

Car coolant ensures that your engine doesn’t overheat and saves you from an expensive repair bill. The coolant keeps your engine protected from both extremely cold and hot temperatures. 

How Does Coolant Work?

The engine of your car runs hot when being used and it can get hot enough to cause damages to the different essential auto parts. Coolant is responsible for the absorption of heat from the engine of your car to circulate it back to the radiator.

Engine coolant
Coolant or antifreeze

Extreme cold during winter can freeze up or even crack your engine block. Coolant can prevent freezing and overheating alike. True to its name, the engine coolant or also known as antifreeze doesn’t freeze when temperatures reach sub-zero.

Engine coolant also contains ingredients that can help prevent the corrosion of the engine parts of your car. There are different varieties of engine coolant although the basic ingredients still include water and propylene or ethylene glycol. 

The radiator of your car features a reservoir responsible for engine coolant storage. It is from this reservoir that the coolant flows into then circulates through the engine block to protect your vehicle from extreme cold and heat.

The coolant system basically works as simple loop. The pump sends engine coolant to the engine block when your car is running. Starting from there, the coolant runs to the car radiator or also known as the heat exchanger then back again to the pump. During the initial start of your vehicle where you let the engine warm up, the radiator will be bypassed by the coolant. Once your vehicle heats up, the coolant flows through the radiator with the help of the coolant system valve. 

What Makes Up a Good Quality Engine Coolant?

The most effective coolant can prevent the engine of your car from overheating and freezing. This can also keep your engine protected from corrosive elements and boost its performance. The following are the ingredients that make up a high-performing car coolant. 

Engine coolant
The engine coolant is a fluid that picks up the excess heat from the engine

Water  

Around 50% water makes up most engine coolants. There is no water content in straight antifreeze.  Adding some water to the antifreeze according to the instructions of the manufacturer can create a coolant. There are car owners who choose this DIY technique but there are others who opt to buy (Silux) premixed coolants instead. 

Propylene Glycol 

There are also engine coolants that don’t use ethylene glycol but go for propylene glycol instead. Propylene glycol is found to be more viscose and this means that ethylene glycol has the tendency to have a more efficient or effective heat transfer. The fact that propylene glycol is less toxic when ingested is the reason why it is a more popular choice among vehicle owners with kids and pets. 

Ethylene Glycol 

Ethylene glycol is the primary active ingredient in most car coolants. It was after World War I when it was used as an ingredient for car coolant for the very first time. This chemical helps ensure that the liquid that circulates through the engine of your car doesn’t evaporate during extreme heat and doesn’t freeze during extreme cold. 

Corrosion Inhibitors 

Ethylene or propylene glycol and water form the base of majority of engine coolants. However, there are different additives used to avoid corrosion that create various kinds of coolant. The different ingredients may also vary based on the specific country of origin. 

Vehicles made in Asia, for instance, use phosphates and carboxylates as agents for anti-corrosion in the engine coolant. The engine coolants for Asian-manufactured vehicles cannot use silicates as anti-corrosive agent. On the other hand, the coolant for the European vehicles uses a combination of carboxylates and silicates in the engine coolant to help prevent corrosion.  

One specific anti-corrosive isn’t necessarily superior over the other. Various ingredients are being used to address different problems. Asian-made cars, for example, have had problems with poor transfer of heat. The result is that the engine coolant for vehicles made in Asia doesn’t use coolants that contain silicates. Carboxylates and phosphates are used instead for filling the role as an anti-corrosive. 

Engine coolant in Europe had to address a different issue. Hard water that contains the minerals magnesium and calcium reacts with the engine coolant’s phosphate inhibitors that lead to the formation of scale on the vehicle engines. This means that the engine coolant for European cars doesn’t contain phosphates. Coolant made for European vehicles uses carboxylates and silicates instead. 

Although antifreeze is one common engine coolant ingredient, this is not present all the time. Coolant additives can be used without antifreeze to boost the efficiency of heat transfer in the engine. There are also additives that can be an efficient choice in applications of straight water. 

What is the Right Coolant for Your Car?

The best and most suitable engine coolant for your vehicle will depend on your vehicle itself, its age, and where it is manufactured. You have to know the model, year, and make of your car to help you choose the correct coolant. Using the wrong product may lead to poor performance and even instant failure of your car’s engine. Here are some tips you can follow to help you make the right decision.

YouTube video
Understanding coolant. Car engine coolant isn’t complicated. Rust inhibitor anti freeze.

1. Inspect the color. 

Different coolant colors are connected with different vehicle compatibility. However, color is not always an accurate indicator of the correct coolant for your vehicle. Some brands are meant for specific country of origin and car types and the color variety can be quite confusing. While color can be used as a guideline, be sure to refer to the bottle to check if the coolant is compatible with your vehicle. 

2. Check the source.  

The owner’s manual of your vehicle can offer you a plethora of information. This will tell you the specific type of car coolant you can best use for your vehicle. In case you don’t really have a copy of the owner’s manual, just check online to find the details you need.  

3. Remember the water. 

When changing your car coolant, refer to the bottle to check if you need to mix the formula with water. There are coolants that you can pour directly into the system of your car without any additives. On the other hand, there are also some meant to be mixed with water at 50/50.

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