Coolant is an essential part of an engine cooling system. It is typically a fifty-fifty mixture of clean water and antifreeze. You may have heard antifreeze referred to as coolant, and this is somewhat true. Antifreeze not only helps keep the car engine from freezing up in the winter, it also helps keep the car cool in the summer. This product is mixed with water and is placed in the coolant reservoir and the radiator of the car when first adding coolant to a vehicle. Later on, vehicle owners can add more coolant between visits to the mechanic by pouring extra antifreeze into the coolant reservoir. Every two to five years, depending on the type of coolant used, the car owner will need to take the vehicle to the mechanic to have it flushed and filled with fresh coolant. Antifreeze is composed of acids that wear down the metal parts inside an engine over time. Antifreeze manufacturers add extra ingredients to help protect these metal parts from corrosion and rust. Over time, these ingredients break down, and the coolant becomes harmful to a car engine. At the end of the service life of a particular type of antifreeze, it is best to flush the entire system.
Choosing Coolant for Your Car
There are three different types of car antifreeze on the market; each one is formulated in a different manner and provides slightly different benefits. A car can essentially run on any type of antifreeze. However, there are a few things you should consider before purchasing any one type. When choosing a coolant for your car, you should consider how often you feel comfortable flushing out your coolant system and what kind of additives you want in the formula to help preserve the metal and prevent corrosion. Inorganic Acid Technology (IAT) IAT coolant is commonly used in United States-manufactured cars from the 1920s to the late 1990s. This coolant is naturally clear, but is dyed a bright green to help people identify it. IAT coolant contains silicates and phosphate corrosion inhibitors to help protect the metal parts of the car that the coolant runs through, such as the engine and the radiator. It is recommended that IAT coolants are flushed out of the car's system once every two years, or 30,000 miles. Organic Acid Technology (OAT) OAT coolants are available in several different dyed colors, from orange to dark green. This coolant is different from IAT coolant in that it does not contain silicates or phosphates to protect the car. This helps the coolant last much longer, but it can wear down the metal parts over time. Different manufacturers add special additives to this coolant to help prevent rust and corrosion. OAT coolant should be flushed from a car system once every five years, or every 150,000 miles. Hybrid Organic Acid Technology (HOAT) HOAT coolants are also available in a few different colors, such as yellow and orange. HOAT coolant contains some silicates to inhibit corrosion, and also has some additives to help prevent rusting and corrosion. HOAT coolant should also be flushed from the car system once every five years, or every 150,000 miles.
Knowing Which Coolant to UseCar manufacturers often choose one particular type of coolant to use for all of their lines. This makes choosing the correct coolant to add to your vehicle much easier. You can look up coolant types according to vehicle manufacturer, and also by the color of the coolant. Coolant Type Colors Vehicles IAT Bright Green Most domestic vehicles from ‘20s to '90s; GM, Ford, Chrysler OAT In order; Orange, Pink, Green, Red In order; GM, VW, Honda, Toyota HOAT Yellow, Orange Major Asian, German, European car makers; Chrysler Another way to determine which type of coolant to add to your vehicle is to refer to the owner's manual. If the owner's manual is not available, you may look it up on the manufacturer's website.
Besides the three different chemical types, there are different addictive packages designed to control corrosion and enhance the life of cooling system components. The additive packages are tailored to the design of the engine parts that come in contract with the antifreeze. Different metals like aluminum. Cast iron and brass require different anti corrosion chemicals, as do different head and intake gaskets water pump seals ect.
If you want to get the most trouble free life out of your cooling system, use the factory recommended coolant and distilled water when the system is serviced.