If you like to do your own car maintenance, or if you just like to know what’s what when it comes to car maintenance, then you probably know what antifreeze is, and no doubt you’ve heard of coolant. But when you hear them used seemingly interchangeably, you might wonder if they do the same job. And if so, why do they have two different names?
Coolant is watered down antifreeze. You can buy coolant in either a 50/50 mixture (50% antifreeze, 50% water) or 70/30 (70% antifreeze, 30% water).
Antifreeze keeps the water in your radiator and engine from freezing when weather is cold and from boiling over when weather is hot. Most radiators are filled with a 50/50 coolant mixture, but a 70/30 will give your car added protection. Antifreeze also acts as a lubricant—it keeps the moving parts from seizing up as a result of friction.
The magic of antifreeze is in the chemical ethylene glycol. Mixed accurately, this chemical can prevent water from freezing even when temperatures dip to 30° F below zero! When there’s at least 50% coolant in the fluid in your radiator, the freezing temperature is lowered by 60 genres or more. On the flip side, the same fluid will be kept from boiling even at temperatures as high as 275° F.
Modern cooling systems have lots of small or narrow passages that the coolant needs to be able to pass through freely. These small passageways are built to keep the heat in the engine balanced and ensure that when you start your car in the morning, heat will distribute evenly and quickly. When an engine is operating at its optimal temperature, emissions control systems, which reduce air pollution, work properly. Over time, coolant will become polluted with tiny bits of debris that has settled in your cooling system. All the places that coolant needs to go, from large hoses to small passages, are equally important, so it’s essential to flush the system in order to prevent build up.
If you have a question about keeping the cooling system in your car running smoothly, give us a call. We’re always happy to answer your questions and offer advice on the best products for your purposes.