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Are Coolant and Anti-Freeze the Same Thing?

November 17, 2021
Are Coolant And Anti Freeze The Same Thing

Are Coolant and Anti-Freeze the Same Thing?


Many times, on a website or even in a store aisle, you will find the words coolant and anti-freeze being used interchangeably. Although it is not entirely inaccurate, the two do have a big difference that sets them apart and therefore should not be used in place of each other.

In short, it can be said that no, coolant and anti-freeze are not the same things. The explanation for this is the fact that coolant solution is a combination of anti-freeze and water, in a 50/50 ratio. The reason why it is mixed with antifreeze is that in colder temperatures, and especially in countries that have a cool climate all year long, the coolant tends to freeze over as temperatures drop lower than the freezing point of water.

As can be expected, the cooling system of a car or vehicle is no longer functional and that causes loads of problems for the driver as well as for the machine itself. The biggest one being a non-functional or dysfunctional temperature regulation system, which makes the parts of the car, especially the engine and radiator, heat up excessively. The overall performance of the car drops down and it becomes an awful experience for the driver, made worse by the temperature inside the car being affected as well.

Now that we know why the work of a coolant is so important, let us dive into some basic facts about it.

Types of Coolants:

There are three main types of coolant solutions. You choose which one is right for your car according to its specifications and the manufacturers.

  1. Inorganic acid coolant:

Commonly used up to the 1990s, this is the type of coolant that has inorganic acid salt as its main component. Even though some light vehicles still use this type of coolant, researchers have established that this type creates a lot of deposits which can clog the system and cause trouble and damage to the car. The average life span of this type is 2 years or 30,000 miles.

  1. Organic acid coolant:

This second type is the one containing organic acid salts instead of inorganic ones. Some examples of these may include sebacic and benzoic acids. This helps in preventing carbon corrosion and increases the life of a coolant up to 150,000 miles or 5 years.

  1. Hybrid organic acid coolant:

This is the type mainly considered to be standard in the world today. It is formed by a perfect mixture of organic and inorganic acid salts and is known to improve efficiency. Like the organic type, it also has a lifespan of up to 5 years or 150,000 miles.

Some Common Coolant Problems:

  1. Topping up or replacement needed:

Every coolant has a particular duration of effective performance after which it can functionally decline and start raising problems. In that case, you may need to top it up or replace it completely. However, if you are having to top-up your coolant more often than normal, it might be because of a leakage from the tubes it is carried in. It must be examined and dealt with, to make sure your car maintenance cost does not skyrocket.

  1. Flushing the coolant:

Even if you have no leaks and your coolant is topped up, your car engine might still be heating up, indicating that the coolant is not doing its job properly. This is because the more you use it, the more it breaks down and after a while, it needs to be completely flushed out and replaced because the top-up quantity is not enough to keep it going.

Can you DIY a coolant flush?

The short answer is no. It is best not to go down that road with delicate and expensive parts of your car, in this case, the engine, which is directly affected by the coolant system. Even if you were to try, you might miss some important details about the make of your car and end up adding the wrong type or amount of coolant. Moreover, you may miss the warranted refill policy that many showrooms have in place, offering top-ups and flushes for free under a certain mileage.

These are some of the general facts and figures about coolant and anti-freeze, which are not the same, to help you understand your car and its functions better.

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