Engine coolant, (also known as antifreeze coolant), is a crucial part of every vehicle’s cooling system. Its primary function is to regulate and maintain the temperature of the engine by absorbing excess heat and dissipating it through the radiator. Without sufficient coolant, the engine can overheat, leading to a variety of issues ranging from minor leaks to catastrophic engine failure.
While coolant levels do not decrease on their own, coolant leaks are a common car issue. Because of this, it is essential to check your coolant fluid levels every couple of weeks to make sure you do not have a coolant leak, thus preventing your engine from overheating.
What does coolant do?
Your vehicle’s radiator and coolant have the critical function of preventing the engine from overheating. Engine coolant is circulated throughout the engine, which absorbs heat from the most essential components and carries it back to the radiator, dissipating the heat into the air.
The radiator is an efficient system that relies heavily on the presence of the right type of liquid coolant to function properly. To prevent the coolant from boiling over, it is crucial to maintain the correct coolant levels in your vehicle. If the coolant were to boil, the engine’s most critical parts would not be able to transfer heat effectively, putting them at risk of serious damage. The antifreeze in coolant is also vital as it prevents the coolant from evaporating or freezing in cold climates.
Can water be used instead of coolant?
While water is a component of liquid coolant, using water alone as a substitute for coolant is not recommended. Water does not have the required properties to function as an effective coolant, particularly since it lacks the antifreeze component.
Although water can be used in emergency situations, it is not a suitable long-term solution. Water can be used to temporarily top up coolant levels for a short distance, but it is important to replace it with proper coolant as soon as possible.
Types of coolant
Vehicle manufacturers have different preferences when it comes to the type of coolant to use, but there are generally three main options available. These are Organic Acid Technology (OAT), Inorganic Additive Technology (IAT), and Hybrid Organic Acid Technology (HOAT).
IAT is the most commonly used liquid coolant for older cars, with decades of use as the go-to choice. This type of coolant is known for its excellent corrosion protection.
Organic Acid Technology (OAT) is the coolant of choice for most modern cars. Unlike Inorganic Additive Technology (IAT) coolants, OAT coolants only contain organic corrosion inhibitors such as carboxylates and triazole. The carboxylate acid inhibitors in OAT coolants are non-depleting corrosion inhibitors that can extend the coolant’s life.
A combination of IAT and OAT, HOAT coolant contains added silicates to protect against corrosion and rusting of aluminium components. It is commonly used in newer vehicles.
Can you mix coolants?
Mixing coolants, especially those with different types and chemical solutions, is not recommended. To avoid costly repairs, it is important to always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the correct coolant type for your car.
Trust the Great Lakes Auto Centre team to help
If you need assistance working out how to put coolant in your car or require a coolant flush, the team of professionals at Great Lakes Auto Centre is available to assist you. Get started by contacting us on (02) 6590 1375, or fill out our online form to hear back from us soon.