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Key Takeaways:

- Antifreeze and engine coolant serve different purposes. Engine coolant is used to control the engine's temperature, whereas antifreeze is used to reduce the freezing point of water.

- Antifreeze is made up of ethylene glycol or propylene glycol. At the same time, engine coolant can be a mixture of water and antifreeze.

- You should never attempt to dilute antifreeze on your own and never skip coolant maintenance or flushing.

- Never try to run your car on pure antifreeze as it is a poor conductor of heat on its own. The engine can suffer severe damage.
 

You've often heard the words "antifreeze" and "coolant" used interchangeably in relation to automotive fluids. That is not always the case because these fluids are different from each other and are still related.

Maybe you've started to think of them as the pop and soda of the automobile world—two different words for the same thing. Or perhaps you already believe they are distinct substances, and you're just seeking proof?

This blog by Jackie Cooper Imports will address your questions regarding antifreeze vs. coolant concerns.

Define Antifreeze:

Antifreeze is a major part of your car's cooling system. The internal combustion engine generates a lot of heat when it is in use. That heat can go out of control and damage the surrounding components in the engine bay. For that reason, radiator fluids are needed to circulate through the engine block and remove the heat from it. Antifreeze is an additive to radiator fluid to alter its freezing & boiling points so it can contain heat better. The additive is composed of either ethylene or propylene glycol. All this comprises a coolant.

Although coolant is never made solely of water, most coolants, if not all, will additionally contain additives, and some are pre-mixed with distilled water.

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What Exactly Are Ethylene and Propylene Glycol?

Ethylene Glycol:

This kind of alcohol is inert and colorless by nature. Both its freezing, and boiling points are 8.6 degrees Fahrenheit. When combined with water, it can raise the liquid's boiling and freezing points. It doesn't decay rapidly and doesn't hurt metal components.

It is practical for cooling systems because of all these attributes. Ethylene glycol is, regrettably, quite poisonous. To the ordinary adult, two ounces may be lethal. Additionally, it has a pleasant flavor that could tempt kids, animals, and even nature to drink.

Propylene Glycol:

Propylene glycol has no flavor, odor, or color. It is a synthetic liquid with several industrial uses. For instance, it's employed in the production of certain polyester compounds. It's not as dangerous to use this syrupy liquid as ethylene glycol. Typically, it is marketed as a safe substitute for ethylene glycol.

Additionally, it has more significant freezing and boiling point. These have corresponding temperatures of 370- and - 74-degrees Fahrenheit. That said, it should not be abused or eaten. Children and pets must not have access to it.

Helpful Additives:

Compounds added to a product serve to enhance its functionality. They can be found in gasoline stabilizers, paints, motor lubricants, and other products.

The roles of additives in antifreeze are varied. For instance, they can prevent corrosion by safeguarding your car's internal components or postponing the fluid's eventual breakdown, prolonging the duration between top-ups or replacements. Additives with antioxidant properties aid in the removal of material that accumulates in the coolant system.

These are but a few illustrations. In essence, additives improve the functionality of antifreeze.

Define Coolant:

Typically, distilled water and antifreeze are combined to make coolant. The optimal mixture is equal parts; however, this might vary according to your car's requirements.

If your winters are particularly bitter, you could require a greater antifreeze-to-water ratio. As a result, the water won't freeze during the really cold weather.

The usage of just water-based coolant is not advised. This is because water is less effective at controlling temperature than ethylene and propylene glycol. Water also doesn't include any additives. The interior parts of your car cannot be protected or otherwise benefited by this fluid alone.

Is Antifreeze the Same as Coolant?

Most of the time, the answer is in the affirmative. It's not the same as saying diesel and gasoline are interchangeable.

When antifreeze is combined with water, whether distilled or tap water, you may say that the mixture is a coolant. This is only possible if you want to be exact.

The two are essentially the same. To use will differ from automobile to car, as will the brands, kinds, and combinations from one brand to the next.

How Does Antifreeze Look Like?

The top antifreeze producers all employ dye. Keep in mind that ethylene and propylene glycol are both colorless by nature. Vibrant colors make it easier to detect leaks, making it simpler to ensure that accidental spills are completely cleaned up and that any antifreeze is properly disposed of.

Inorganic acid technology (IAT), organic acid technology (OAT), and hybrid organic acid technology (HOAT) are the three alternatives.

Green (IAT)

Most green products use inorganic acid technology (IAT). They are silicate-rich to keep weak metals from rusting.

For automobiles made no later than 1990, the green varieties work well. Brass, copper, and aluminum radiators benefit from silicates.

Orange, Dark Green, and Pink (OAT)

Brands associated with organic acid technology frequently use these colors. Other than neon or light green, they may be found in the whole color spectrum.

This is done to avoid initial confusion with more conventional IAT products. Silicates are not present in OAT antifreeze.

As a substitute, it is jam-packed with additives to boost performance. Corrosion inhibitors and other chemicals that increase longevity are common kinds.

Yellow and Orange (HOAT)

OAT and IAT antifreeze are combined to create a hybrid organic acid technology (HOAT). These brands include additives but are also created using silicates.

Major vehicle companies frequently include HOAT brands. For example, Manufacturers like Mercedes Benz or Chrysler.

How to Check Your Car's Antifreeze/Coolant Levels?

The coolant reservoir is generally located under the hood of the car. It is a translucent plastic container with markings that show minimum and maximum levels.

If it's time to add more, use the right type for your engine. Antifreeze has a long shelf life but eventually needs to be replaced.

Ending Note:

Now that you know the distinctions between coolant and antifreeze, you should be ready to address any misunderstandings your friends or family may have when the topic comes up again.

Want help in preventing engine overheating?

Jackie Cooper Imports serving Tulsa, OK, can help! You can relax knowing that our dealership also has an INFINITI® service center that is fully functional and able to handle anything from regular tasks like oil changes and battery replacements to more involved repairs.

Schedule your service today!

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