The Antifreeze and Coolant Guide

Are antifreeze and coolant different things? This question confuses many people. And mostly those who are new to the car’s maintenance. However, the quickest answer is that both fluids are different and each one has its usage.

But many drivers think that both of these elements are similar to one another. On the other hand, the important thing is these fluids are necessary for your car.

The simple answer is to save your engine from freezing or getting overheated due to the change in the weather.

So, here in this article, you will know all the vital information about coolant and antifreeze to make sure you keep driving without worrying about the fluctuating seasons.

Antifreeze and Coolant – What are They?

what is antifreeze for

Alright! Let’s start with the antifreeze.

You must be wondering what is antifreeze and what is antifreeze made of? It’s a glycol-based highly concentrated liquid that improves your car’s cooling mechanism.

Now, if you’re more concerned about what is antifreeze used for? Then as the name defines, this liquid prevents your car’s engine cooling system from getting frozen in the coldest temperatures.

Antifreeze also protects your engine from corrosion and allows smooth heat transfer from the engine to the coolant. Moreover, the antifreeze smell is sweet like maple syrup.

On the other hand, coolant for a car is a powerful liquid that runs all over the engine to make sure the environment is suitable. In other words, a coolant controls your engine’s temperature and assure it stays within the temperature range.

car cooling system

So, the next time you are shopping for these items, keep in mind that both of these liquids are different from one another. A coolant is more like a ready-to-use liquid of antifreeze that is a pre-mixed solution. You just need to pour it into the system. Whereas, an antifreeze needs preparation. It has to be mixed with water to work perfectly in your car’s cooling system.

Coolants and Its Types – Is Mixing a Good Idea?

To know the answer, you should know the coolant types. Usually, coolants are classified by different colors, and the mixing depends on the color.

Different Coolant Colors and Types.

coolant chemistry
  1.     Inorganic Additive Technology (IAT)
    • This a ‘green’ color coolant and it is made with silicates. This type is best for older vehicles.
  2.     Organic Acid Technology (OAT)
    • All the acids used in the manufacturing of OAT are organic. This type is best for safeguarding your car from corrosion. This coolant has an ‘orange’ color.
  3.     Hybrid + Organic Acid Technology (Hybrid OAT)
    • Hybrid OAT has a ‘yellow’ color. It includes organic acids along with silicates.
  4.     Hybrid + Organic Acid Technology + Phosphate free (HOAT)
    • This is another form of the previous coolant. It has a ‘turquoise’ color and has a “Nap-free” nature.
  5.    Phosphate + HOAT (P-HOAT)
    • You can find this coolant in ‘blue’ or ‘pink’ color. Its main ingredients include organic acids mixed with phosphates.
  6.     Silicated HOAT (Si-OAT)
    • the Si-OAT coolant has a ‘purple’ color and it is produced using organic acids and silicates.

All these coolants have their composition and that’s why it is recommended to use them as the manufacturers have suggested.

Remember, mixing the wrong coolant types could damage the radiator, as well as, the entire cooling system.

For example, if you mix the orange coolant with green, the liquid converts into a gel-like matter that ceases the coolant flow. And as a consequence, the engine begins to overheat.

Antifreeze and Its Kinds

The main ingredient in most antifreeze is the glycol. However, it is further divided into two antifreeze ingredients or categories.

So, what kind of antifreeze is the best?

antifreeze types

The ethylene glycol antifreeze is more toxic and could damage the cooling system. Contrarily, the propylene glycol antifreeze is less toxic and mostly labeled as the ‘non-toxic antifreeze’. It is advisable to go for propylene glycol because it doesn’t ruin the water pipes due to the harmless disposition.

Here is the antifreeze color chart:

  1.       Red Antifreeze
    • It offers great protection against pitting, rust, and corrosion.
  2.       Blue Antifreeze
    • Blue antifreeze protects the metals of your cooling system against corrosion and safeguards the aluminum materials used in the mechanism in elevated temperatures.
  3.       Orange Antifreeze
    • Orange antifreeze protects the nylon and aluminum components present in the cooling system. Moreover, it prevents corrosions and maintains the engine’s temperature.
  4.       Green Antifreeze
    • Green antifreeze is manufactured using older formulas and it offers high protection of metal components from corrosion.

How Does Antifreeze Work?

You should be asking yourself this question every time you see the different colors. Antifreeze is made to ensure that it has the lowest freezing point as compared to water, and it is directly added to the cooling system.

Using a water pump, the liquid is pressured around the engine area. Soon as it crosses the hotter parts, it absorbs the engine’s heat, and then it is moved to the radiator.

how the car cooling system works

At this point, antifreeze’s temperature (that becomes hot) becomes cool due to the cold air that comes into its contact as the vehicle drives along. Once the antifreeze passes the radiator, it gets back to the engine, and the entire cycle repeats itself.

It is important to know that if there’s anything that breaks this cycle for longer durations, your car temperature is raising and the engine is supplied with hot antifreeze (There could be an unusual change in antifreeze’s temperature).
antifreeze temperature alarm

That’s why there should be a pre-diluted 50/50 antifreeze (50% water and 50% antifreeze) to easily tackle such circumstances.

In the same way, you should also know that at what temperature does antifreeze freeze?

Usually, the antifreeze freezing point is -36 degrees Fahrenheit.

So, if the outside environment is extremely cold or lower than the freezing point, the antifreeze would freeze, stopping it from completing the cycle and blocking the cooling system.

And that’s one of the main reasons why coolant is mixed with it. The higher your coolant’s concentration is, the better it will protect your engine from rough weather conditions.

How Often to Change Antifreeze?

With time, the antifreeze begins to lose its corrosive-fighting properties and lubricating capabilities. Many carmakers suggest changing antifreeze after driving at least once per 30,000 miles.

How to Change Antifreeze?

how to change antifreeze

You can change this liquid yourself, it might hardly take an hour. All you need is to buy air-powered refilling equipment to help remove the air bubbles from your car’s cooling system as you start filling the new antifreeze.

Nevertheless, it is recommended to properly flush the previous antifreeze out of the system under expert supervision to make sure that things don’t get messier. After doing all the needful, you can fill the radiator again.

You can find cheap antifreeze in any nearby store or online, and the good news is that if you know about the colors, you will know how to mix antifreeze.

What Happens When You Mix Antifreeze?

If mixed with proper consultation from the experts, you can enjoy the high performance of your car. And no matter how harsh the weather is, your vehicle can sustain it without losing its power.

But What Happens if You Use The Wrong Color Antifreeze?

Oh! That could be scary.

Mixing the wrong color antifreeze can disturb the entire system. Your engine might face several complications, as it would get extremely overheated as the mixture would thicken the cooling substance.

For instance, the orange and green antifreeze are designed in different ways. And if mixed, their chemical composition won’t support each other and you will need to flush it out immediately before the cooling system is ruined completely.

How to Check the Antifreeze Level?

You can do it in two easy steps:

Step 1 – Open your car’s bonnet and remove the radiator cap (Don’t open it immediately and ensure the engine is turned off)

Step 2 – Let the engine cool down and then test the antifreeze. If you’re not sure how to test antifreeze, you can use an antifreeze tester to check the quality.

You need to remove the pressure cap, draw a small amount of liquid, and put it into the tester. If there’s any float or ball, then you will have to change the antifreeze, otherwise, there’s no need.

You recently pour the liquid but not sure where does antifreeze go? Relax! It’s a common issue.

Your car leaks the antifreeze, and if you want to know how to find the antifreeze leak spot, then you have to check the radiator. Mostly, the radiator is filled with corrosion which damages all the tubes, resulting in big and small holes.

antifreeze leaks

So, if there are any similar symptoms, then that’s the reason why the liquid is leaking. The next thing is :

How to Fix Antifreeze Leak?

Once the leak is located, you are required to replace the affected areas by installing new parts in the same place. But the most crucial part is to identify the air bubbles and get them out of your car’s cooling system.

You can do this by riding your wheels for a few miles. And if the bubbles are still there, then immediately consult a professional.

Here are a few essential facts regarding the antifreeze that you should be aware of.

Does antifreeze expire? No! Concentrated antifreeze which isn’t mixed with water has an undefined service life.

How many gallons of antifreeze to fill the radiator? Approximately, the radiator can hold up to 2.85 gallons to work with 100% efficiency.

Taking Care of the Used Antifreeze. As the new bottle is now empty because you have poured all the liquid. So, you must be thinking about what to do with used antifreeze container?

Here’s the tip. After refilling the engine, don’t recycle the empty gallon, as the antifreeze traces may lead to cross-contamination. Also, planning to rinse the bottle may contaminate the water too. Therefore, the safest way is to carefully dispose of the used antifreeze bottle in the special recycle bin.

Antifreeze or Coolant – What’s Better?

Antifreeze vs coolant has been a never-ending debate. But in reality, both of them are necessary to experience optimal car performance as they can regulate your engine’s temperature and provides durability.


A car antifreeze and coolant are necessary liquids to calm your engine and make it suitable to sustain in hot and cold seasons.

You can find some best antifreeze or coolants for your vehicle, but it is mandatory to pick the right color if you desire to mix it without creating problems for the radiator and the cooling system. More to this, these liquids are easy to change, have a long-lasting shelf life. Lastly, it protects the engine up to several thousand miles.

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